Weekly Wrap Up
16 July 2021
- Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith announced his plans to retire from politics at the next election. Mr Smith has served as the Member for Casey since 2001 and as Speaker over three Parliaments.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics data has this week revealed the unemployment rate has dropped to below 5 per cent for June, hitting its lowest level in ten years.
- The Cyber Security Industry Advisory Committee released its first annual report since being established in October 2020. The report outlines six areas of key focus including raising awareness, workplace readiness and improving evaluation metrics.
- Former MP Ross Hart has been endorsed as the Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Bass in Tasmania at the next election.
National Cabinet update
National Cabinet met this afternoon. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said National Cabinet remains focused on the four-step plan out of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite ongoing challenges in NSW and Victoria. The PM also confirmed it was a record vaccination day across the country with over 175,000 doses administered in the past 24 hours. The vaccination rollout strategy continues to be an area of focus, with National Cabinet discussing on what is currently working, including the strategy of setting up vaccination booking kiosks in shopping centres across Tasmania. The PM confirmed that pharmacists will play an increasingly vital role in the months ahead in administering vaccinations as the supply of vaccines increases. National Cabinet is also considering how to increase vaccination rates over weekends when medical centres are typically closed.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier this week confirmed the lockdown would be extended to 30 July. COVID-19 numbers across the state continue to climb, with another 97 locally acquired cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night and 29 of those cases infectious while in the community. NSW has now reached more than 1,000 cases since the latest outbreak occurred on 16 June. Meanwhile, President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Dr Omar Khorshid has called on the NSW Government to tighten restrictions to better control the outbreak by closing all non-essential retail outlets and non-essential services.
Victoria has entered a five-day snap lockdown effective from 11.59pm last night – the state’s fifth lockdown. Tighter restrictions have returned with residents only allowed to leave their homes for the five essential reasons: shopping for food and supplies, exercise for up to two hours, compassionate care and medical reasons, authorised work, and to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, masks are once again mandatory at all times when indoors (except at home) and outdoors where physical distancing isn’t possible. Since announcing the snap lockdown, Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar confirmed there are 24 active cases across the state, an increase of 10 from yesterday, spanning over 126 exposure sites with more than 3,000 primary contacts. Premier Daniel Andrews has declined to comment on whether the increase in cases is likely to extend the lockdown, saying he won’t know until Tuesday next week.
Commonwealth assistance provided
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced a wide ranging support package, including an increase to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, for both NSW and Victoria following the latest lockdowns. From week four of a Commonwealth declared hotspot, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment has been increased from $500 to $600 each week where a person has lost 20 hours or more of work a week, and an increase of $325 to $375 each week where a person has lost between 8 and 20 hours of work. The Prime Minister confirmed that Commonwealth related payments are triggered by medical advice from the Chief Medical Officer in declaring a hotspot. Premier Andrews confirmed that the state will pick up the tab for eligible workers who live outside of the Commonwealth declared hotspots, while businesses that received assistance in the previous May and June lockdowns will receive a top-up payment.
In NSW, small and medium businesses will also receive extended support from week four of a lockdown as long as they retain current staffing levels as of 13 July. Eligible businesses with a turnover that is 30 per cent lower than an equivalent of two weeks from 2019 will receive between $1,500 and $10,000 per week. Meanwhile, sole traders will be eligible to receive a set payment of $1,000 a week. The support package is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments on a 50/50 split and will be implemented by Service NSW.
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