Weekly Wrap Up 7 June 2024

7 June 2024

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  • Australia’s gross domestic product rose by 0.1 per cent, a lower figure than expected, in the March quarter 2024, according to National Accounts data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the data  is “another reminder of the pressures that people are under.”
  • The Fair Work Commission announced that the minimum wages and minimum awards will increase by 3.75 per cent from 1 July 2024. The Federal Government welcomed the decision.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles delivered an address to the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue where he outlined Australia’s position in “a new era of strategic competition.”
  • Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles signed Ministerial Direction 110 which requires officials to give “greater weight” to the protection of the Australian community in visa decisions. The new Direction replaces Ministerial Direction 99 and comes into effect from 21 June.
  • SA Treasurer Stephen Mullighan handed down[PDF] the 2024-25 State Budget, revealing a $306 million surplus and $31.7 billion in net debt. GRACosway’s detailed overview can be found here.

Federal Parliament

Senate estimates resumed for its second week, meaning only the House of Representatives sat this week. Of note, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Responsible Buy Now Pay Later and Other Measures) Bill 2024 into the House. The Bill contains a raft of measures including (but not limited to) reforms to buy now, pay later service providers; establishing tax concessions for institutional investments in build-to-rent projects; changes to instant asset write-off for small businesses; and establishing a country-by-country tax reporting system for multinational corporations that meet certain thresholds.

The Net Zero Economy Authority Bill 2024, which seeks to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority to advise Government on the net-zero transition, passed the House with amendments. The House also passed the Payment Times Reporting Amendment Bill 2024 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Financial Market Infrastructure and Other Measures) Bill 2024. The former mandates a 30-day payment timeframe for small businesses, while the latter establishes climate-related financial disclosure obligations for eligible entities. Both Bills will now head to the Senate.

VIC and WA Redistributions

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) released draft redistributions for federal electorates in Victoria and WA. As required by law, redistributions are triggered to reflect changes in a state’s respective population and aim to ensure that electorates approximately capture an equal proportion of voters.

In Victoria, the AEC proposed that the Division of Higgins in Melbourne’s inner-east be abolished. The seat is currently held by first-term Labor MP Dr Michelle Anada-Rajah, who stated that she was “obviously disappointed” by the AEC’s proposal. Bordering electorates, including Menzies, Kooyong, Melbourne, and Chisholm, will also have revised boundaries under the proposal. Despite speculation that former Coalition Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would run as the Liberal candidate in Kooyong, Mr Frydenberg ruled out “rushing back to politics” and said he would support the already preselected Liberal candidate Amelia Hamer.

In WA, the AEC proposed a new Division named ‘Bullwinkel’ be created in the Perth Hills area, absorbing territory from the neighbouring seats of Hasluck, Swan, and Durack. It is unclear at the stage whether the new seat will favour the Labor or Liberal parties at the upcoming federal election.

The AEC also confirmed that the redistribution proposal for New South Wales will be announced on 14 June.

Looking Ahead

The QLD, WA, and TAS (House of Assembly only) Parliaments will sit next week. QLD Treasurer Cameron Dick will also hand down the 2024-25 QLD Budget on Tuesday 11 June.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government announced the issuance of $7 billion worth of green bonds, as part of Australia’s sustainable finance strategy. The green bonds aim to provide global investors the opportunity to support government projects in Australia while also offering private capital to assist Australia’s transition to net zero by 2050. Projects include green hydrogen hubs, community batteries, as well as programs to conserve biodiversity.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones announced the establishment of an Insurance and Affordability and Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Taskforce, which will advise government on improving insurance affordability in relation to risks posed by natural hazards. The cross-agency Taskforce will consider the economic impacts of underinsurance and standardising natural hazard definitions.

The Federal Court found a trustee of Active Super engaged in “greenwashing” by misleading consumers in relation to its environmental, social, and governance credentials. Active Super are found to have engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct” by investing in securities linked to the coal and gambling sectors despite claiming to be environmentally friendly.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Australia’s current account balance fell to a deficit of $4.9 billion, a decrease of $7.6 billion. The size of the current account deficit is due to a smaller trade surplus resulting from a rise in the import of goods. Australian exports of goods also fell by 1.5 per cent, reflecting reduced domestic production of coal and iron ore.


Federal Developments

The Government announced that the HMAS Farncomb will be the first of six Collins class submarines to receive a life-of-type extension, as part of the Government’s $4 to 5 billion investment in improving the capabilities of existing submarines. The upgrades aim to help fill the Navy’s capability gap until it receives Virginia class submarines from the US in the early 2030s, and the SSN AUKUS vessels in the early 2040s.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong travelled to Honiara to meet with Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele and ministers of the newly elected Solomon Islands Government. Ministers discussed the bilateral relationship between Australia and the Solomon Islands, and committed to continued cooperation on infrastructure, jobs and economic growth.

Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell joined ministers from the Indo-Pacific in signing three Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) agreements in Singapore. The agreements aim to strengthen economic ties and support the net-zero transition across the region. Whilst there, Minister Farrell led the first delegation of Australian investors at the IPEF Clean Economy Investor Forum, as part of the Government’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040.

The House Standing Committee on Agriculture commenced an inquiry into the Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea Bill 2024The inquiry aims to assess the provisions made for sheep farmers, businesses and communities in the Bill, particularly in WA. Submissions close on 11 June.


Federal Developments

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen released the December 2023 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, with Australia’s emissions now 29.0 per cent below the June 2005 levels (recognised as the baseline under the Paris Agreement). Emissions were 0.5 per cent lower than those of 2022.

State Developments

The WA Government released a refreshed Battery and Critical Mineral Strategy. The strategy will guide the state’s investments over the next six years to 2030 and is backed by a $500 Strategic Industries Fund investment. Since the launch of the Future Battery Industry Strategy, sales from copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium have increased from $6.1 billion to $22 billion.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) released two discussion papers for consultation. The NSW waste levy review and the review into Food Organics and Garden Organics Mandate seek to understand the sentiments on the frequency of food waste collections and possible exemptions. Feedback is open until 15 July.

In a pre-budget announcement, the Queensland Government stated it will allocate $26 billion in the 2024-25 State Budget to fund the transition to net zero. Funding includes $16.5 billion for renewable energy and storage projects, and $8.5 billion to build the SuperGrid. The Queensland SuperGrid is expected to deliver 50 per cent renewables by 2030. The funding will be delivered through Queensland’s progressive coal royalties scheme.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government released amendments to the Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) Determination, following consultation in late 2023. The revised Determination requires platforms to consider the best interests of the child; consider user-safety on artificial intelligence (AI) services; and companies may also be required to provide a report on the number of active end-users within Australia to the e-Safety Commissioner, if requested.

State Developments

The NSW Government announced a $2 billion investment for the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will be delivered in the 2024-25 State Budget. Under the second stage of the project, 12 km of light rail will connect the Parramatta CBD with Sydney Olympic Park with 14 new stops.

The WA Government declared a commercial agreement has been signed between Qantas and Perth Airport to develop a new airport terminal. As part of the new agreement, $5 billion will be invested in the terminal to develop a parallel runway, two multi-storey carparks and an airport hotel.  An additional runway is also expected to open in 2028.

The QLD Government revealed that the price of Airtrain tickets will be halved as part of a cost-of-living measure included in the upcoming 2024-25 QLD Budget. The announcement comes after the State Government reached an agreement with Airtrain this week, with the discounted tickets to be offered for a six-month period starting in August. More details will be released in the upcoming Budget.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government signed the 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to continue cost-effective services and medicines to patients. Effective from 1 July, the $26.5 billion agreement will cover the cost of dispensing prescriptions and pharmacy services, fund a one-year freeze on the maximum Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payment, increase access to the PBS in rural areas, and establish a new ‘Additional Community Supply Support Payment.’

State Developments

The NSW Government committed $111.8 million for a four-year package to support community mental health and wellbeing initiatives as part of the upcoming State Budget. The funds will be allocated to Community Mental Health Teams, the Pathways to Community Living Initiative, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, and a new Mental Health Single Front Door to increase the availability of mental health services.

The SA Government allocated $2.5 billion for health initiatives in the 2024-25 State Budget, including $1.6 billion to respond to higher costs of service delivery and $742.3 million to meet demand in the public health system. The budget also committed $30.2 million for new hospital beds at Queen Elizabeth and Lyell McEwin hospitals, $24 million for new ambulance stations, and $23.5 million for an electronic patient care record system for SA Ambulance Service, amongst other measures.

The ACT Parliament passed legislation to enable access to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) from November 2025, following the release of an inquiry report[PDF] into the bill. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2023 will allow adults suffering from an advanced and progressive condition to be eligible for VAD options, subject to an assessment process by independent health professionals.


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