Weekly Wrap Up
- The Queensland State Election is this Saturday, with recent polls indicating Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk holds a narrow lead over Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. See GRACosway’s election insights here.
- The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements presented its final report to the Governor-General on 28 October. The report was tabled in Parliament today.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne described an incident in which 13 Australian women were invasively searched without their consent at Doha Airport as “grossly disturbing” and requested a report of the incident from Qatari authorities. The matter has been reported to the Australian Federal Police.
- Attorney-General Christian Porter announced the Honourable Justice Simon Steward and the Honourable Justice Jacqueline Gleeson have been appointed as Justices of the High Court of Australia.
- The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank Guy Debelle this week declared Australia is technically out of recession, revealing the bank expects the economy to grow in the September quarter.
- The 2020 ACT election result was finalised this week. Labor’s representation in the Legislative Assembly dropped to 10 seats, whilst the Liberals fell to 9 seats. The Greens picked up the positions lost by the major parties to claim 6 seats.
End of the sitting fortnight
This week saw Senate Estimates and the House sitting once again. On the agenda for the Government this week was introducing significant reforms to Australia’s foreign investment framework to Parliament, and securing passage of the Waste and Recycling Bill through the lower house. Elsewhere, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security tabled their review of the mandatory data retention regime, which argued the regime should be more transparent and have greater safeguards on accessing of information. Meanwhile, Senate Estimates continued following last week’s revelations that prompted the resignation of ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan and forced Chairman James Shipton to step aside pending an investigation into the improper use of government funds for personal expenses. Evidence given during last week’s Estimates also saw Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate step aside pending a government investigation into her decision to reward employees with designer watches worth $20,000.
Climate wars reignite
PM Scott Morrison held a call with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson this week, where Mr Johnson urged the PM to take “bold action” on climate change and encouraged Australia to set ambitious targets to cut emissions and reach net zero emissions. In response to the UK Government’s recap of the call, the PM emphasised that Australia will continue to make “sovereign decisions” on the emissions targets set. The phone call comes as major trading partners including South Korea, Japan and China committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, raising questions about the viability of Australian coal and gas exports in the future. Elsewhere, leaders of the CFMEU and the Australian Workers Union have this week warned Labor MPs their rhetoric on coal and gas might cost the party votes.
Victoria moves out of lockdown
As Victoria recorded zero cases on Monday and Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced Victoria would move from “stay home” to “stay safe”, with no more restrictions on the reasons to leave home. From 11.59pm on Tuesday, retail, hospitality, beauty and personal care services reopened across Melbourne, while two adults plus dependents can now visit other households once per day. Despite the significant easing of restrictions, the Premier said the current 25-kilometre limit and “ring of steel” border between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria would remain until at least 8 November. While PM Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Health Greg Hunt welcomed the easing of restrictions, Mr Frydenberg in Parliament on Tuesday said the Victorian people should not have had to go through the tough lockdown. Elsewhere in Victoria, the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry will extend the final reporting date to 21 December 2020 due to additional materials being provided to the Inquiry after the deadline for submissions on 28 September. An interim report will now be delivered to the Governor prior to 6 November.
Understanding COVID-19: AustraliaNOW Research
The latest Clemenger Group research into Australians’ attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that there is sustained confidence in leadership across most states. Confidence in the Queensland Government remains strong in the lead-up to the election. Elsewhere, despite Victoria achieving zero new coronavirus cases earlier in the week, and the associated re-opening announcement, there has been no sudden ‘bounce back’ in confidence.
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Federal Parliament will return on 9 November. Elsewhere, Parliament will return in WA and the ACT.