Weekly Wrap Up
6 April 2023
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- For the first time since May 2022, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 3.6 per cent.
- Meanwhile, RBA Governor Phillip Lowe addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday, where he detailed the reasons for the Board’s monetary policy decision, the factors contributing to the RBA’s outlook and the importance of returning inflation to target levels.
- The Federal Government confirmed that a mandatory direction under the Protective Security Policy Framework will be issued to prohibit the Tik Tok app on devices issued by Commonwealth departments and agencies. The NSW and Victorian governments have also signaled that they will ban the app on government issued devices.
- Federal Health Minister Mark Butler released the findings of the Independent Review of Medicare Integrity and Compliance. The report made 23 recommendations.
- The Federal Government released the findings of the Independent Review of Inland Rail and agreed to the 19 recommendations either in full or in principle.
- The Federal Government has announced that it will invest $535.3 million in the Federal Budget towards the nine National Collecting Institutions over four years.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that the Honourable Justice Debra Mortimer has been appointed as Australia’s new Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.
- The Prime Minister also paid tribute to Aboriginal land rights leader Yunupingu, recognising him as a “a great Yolngu man” and “a great Australian”.
Liberal Party to oppose Voice to Parliament
Following a party room meeting on Wednesday, the Liberal Party announced its formal opposition to the Federal Government’s model for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Party will instead propose symbolic recognition in the Constitution and a legislated voice that would focus on local and regional voices. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton suggested that one of the main reasons behind the decision not to back the Government’s model was that the Party did not believe it would lead to meaningful change for Indigenous Australians. Liberal MP Bridget Archer has already confirmed she does not agree with the party’s position and will cross the floor to support the Voice. Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg also said he would maintain “an open mind on the Voice as a long-term supporter”. The Shadow frontbench will be obligated to oppose the referendum, however, under party rules, backbenchers will be allowed to vote according to their conscience.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that he was disappointed by the Liberal Party’s decision and noted that he remains optimistic about the referendum’s success. Indigenous Minister Linda Burney also stressed that the Voice has been developed with input from thousands of First Nations people across the country and said that Mr Dutton’s response was “predictable”, noting that he hadn’t suggested any alternations during numerous meetings with the Prime Minister about the Voice.
Labor candidate Mary Doyle has emerged victorious after winning the Federal seat of Aston at last weekend’s by-election. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Cabinet Minister Alan Tudge in February this year. Ms Doyle defeated Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell 53.7 per cent to 46.3 on a two-party preferred basis, with a swing of 6.49 per cent at the time of writing. The result has been hailed as a historic victory for Labor as it marks the first time the Government has won a seat off the Opposition at a by-election since 1920. Subsequently, the result leaves the Coalition holding onto just two seats in metropolitan Melbourne, with Labor holding 18. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has since stated he takes responsibility for the Liberal Party’s loss, conceding that the Party has work to do to rebuild its base in Victoria.
NSW Ministry sworn in
After unveiling his new Ministry earlier this week, NSW Premier Chris Minns’ 22-member Cabinet was sworn[PDF] in on Wednesday. Premier Minns highlighted that the Ministry comprises 50 per cent women, pointing to a number of portfolios that will be held by women for the first time, including Energy, Police and Finance. The seat of Ryde remains the last in doubt, and with just over 88 per cent of the vote counted, Liberal candidate Jordan Lane leads by 68 votes. On current numbers, Labor will be a minority Government with 45 seats – two shy of a majority, and the Coalition will hold 35 seats.
Meanwhile, the Government has offered to support Independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. A formal vote for the position will occur when Parliament returns. After Dominic Perrottet’s resignation as Leader of the Liberal Party, Anthony Roberts, Alister Henskens and Mark Speakman have all signalled their interest in the position, however, formal nominations have not yet opened. In addition, Nationals Leader Paul Toole was re-elected to the position after a party room vote earlier this week, winning the vote eight to seven, with one informal vote.
For further information on the Ministry, please see our detailed coverage: NSW Election 2023: Ministry Update.
No Parliaments are sitting next week.
The Federal Government released the outcomes of Treasury’s review of the Your Future, Your Super (YFYS) laws and announced that the Government will update the annual superannuation performance test to address issues raised in the YSYF review. Consultation on the draft regulations is open until 2 May.
Treasury opened consultation on an anti-avoidance measure relating to multinational deductions for payments relating to intangible assets in low-tax jurisdictions. Consultation is open until 28 April.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers published an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review where he discussed the recent international banking crises. Mr Chalmers detailed the Government’s response and the sound nature of the Australian banking system.
The Federal Government released the consultation paper for its proposed changes to superannuation concessions for balances exceeding $3 million. Consultation is open until 17 April.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles will visit Wellington, New Zealand this week, where he will meet with his ministerial counterparts to discuss the Australia-New Zealand Defence partnership.
The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade handed down its final report as part of its Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making. It made seven recommendations relating to decisions to deploy Australian Defence Force members in war or warlike operations.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced that he will visit Beijing as part of a five-day trade mission. This visit is the first by Premier McGowan in four years, and will focus on a range of matters including international education, resources, energy and aviation.
The QLD Government appointed Leata Alaimoana as Trade Commissioner for the Pacific region, who will be tasked with implementing the QLD Government’s Pacific Trade Strategy and growing trade and investment across the region.
ENVIRONMENT, RESOURCES AND ENERGY
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King signed a statement of intent with the UK’s Minister for the Indo Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan. This statement outlines how Australia and the UK will co-operate in the critical minerals space, including fostering investment and the exchange of skills and expertise between Australian and UK firms.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced $120 million will be made available under Round 1 of the Community Batteries Funding Program. Successful applicants will be awarded up to $20 million to create a minimum of five batteries.
WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnson has announced $40 million to support the discovery of critical minerals. This will be funded in the 2023-24 State Budget under the Sustainable Geoscience Investments package to address the increasing demand for critical minerals used in technologies such as electric vehicles, energy storage and solar panels.
The NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved the Bowdens Silver project, a mining project which will take place in the Mudgee region. The approval follows a two-and-a-half-year assessment of the project by the Department of Planning.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) released its third State of the Nation’s Housing 2022-23 research report. The report estimated that Australia will face a shortage of 106,000 dwellings by 2027 due to falling supply, high-interest rates, increasing migration levels and ongoing community opposition to new developments.
The QLD Government will receive $21.7 million under the Federal Government’s annual $110 million Black Spot program in 2023-24. Funding will go towards upgrading 38 dangerous crash sites across the state.
The South Australian Government has signed a deal to transfer the functions for Adelaide’s trains to state ownership over the next two years. The negotiated deal will see Keolis Downer Adelaide and Torrens Connect (AMO) pass back functions by January 2025 and July 2025 respectively.
The NSW Government will commission Professor Allan Fels to undertake a review into Sydney’s toll network. The review will investigate competitive toll contracts, toll services in other jurisdictions, long-term concessions, and compliance with toll contacts.
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten announced the appointment of Ms Joan McKenna Kerr and Dr Richard Fejo to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board. Dr Fejo’s appointment takes the number of people with a disability on the board to six out of 12.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus released a statement on the release of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS). The Government has noted that under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030, $22.4 million has been allocated to further work by the ACMS.
Minister for Health Mark Butler announced that from 1 May, children aged six to 11 with cystic fibrosis will have access to the medicine Trikafta through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Meanwhile, Labor MP Dr Mike Freelander, with co-chairs Independent MP Dr Monique Ryan and Liberal MP Mrs Bridget Archer, launched[PDF] the Parliamentary Friends of Cystic Fibrosis Group.
Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Health Jeremy Rockliff confirmed paramedics will receive a 3.5 per cent wage increase in the first year, three per cent in the second and third years, and a Cost of Living/Retention Payment of $1000 on top of their base salary as part of an updated Award.