Weekly Wrap Up
8 July 2022
To receive regular policy and political updates, subscribe to our Weekly Wrap Up here.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia increased the cash rate by 50 basis points, bringing it to 1.35 per cent.
- The Federal Government proposed an extension of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism from 2023 until 2030 to help ensure ongoing domestic gas supplies.
- Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus discontinued the Australian Government’s prosecution of Bernard Collaery.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese released the Code of Conduct for Ministers, outlining that he expects his Ministers to act “with due regard for integrity, fairness, accountability, responsibility and the public interest”.
- Victorian Deputy Leader of the Nationals Steph Ryan announced she will not contest the November 2022 State Election.
- Meanwhile, in NSW, State Liberal MP Gabrielle Upton indicated she will not contest the March 2023 NSW Election.
- In SA, the State Liberal Party retained former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman’s seat of Bragg in Saturday’s by-election.
Spotlight on international relations
The Federal Government’s focus on international cooperation has continued this week, with a series of visits and meetings taking place. Prime Minister Albanese visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv and pledged an additional $100 million in military assistance in response to Russia’s invasion.
The Prime Minister also met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Australia New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting in Sydney. The two leaders discussed cooperation on matters including climate change and economic recovery and agreed to establish annual bilateral engagement between ministers for foreign affairs, defence, finance, and climate change. They also agreed to develop “viable pathways” to citizenship for New Zealanders and Australians who move between the two countries and noted pathways would be identified by ANZAC Day 2023. Significantly, in a press conference following the meeting, Mr Albanese indicated that he will ask a parliamentary committee to review whether New Zealanders living and working in Australia should be able to vote.
Meanwhile, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King met with her Indian counterpart Shri Pralhad Joshi and committed $5.8 million to the India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership over three years.
Before travelling to Indonesia to participate in the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong met with the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, Rafael Grossi, to discuss Australia’s commitment to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime in light of the AUKUS partnership. Mr Grossi warned that the Australian Government has “a lot of work to do” to ensure approval of the AUKUS nuclear submarine plans.
Today, Minister Wong will meet with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali. It will be the first meeting between Australian and Chinese foreign ministers since 2019.
Flooding crisis resumes in NSW
The NSW Government has declared recent flooding across the state a natural disaster, while the Insurance Council deemed the emergency a “significant event”. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Albanese visited the State Emergency Operations Centre to announce Federal Government assistance, including disaster payments of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child. The Federal Government has also made the Disaster Recovery Allowance available to assist employees and sole traders who have lost income as a result of the flooding events.
The NSW Government announced that funding has been made available to affected communities under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. The State Government has also deployed an emergency personnel taskforce to assist in flood response and recovery efforts.
This week, as the number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded in Australia across the course of the pandemic surpassed 10,000, authorities warned of a new wave of infections. In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews extended the State’s pandemic declaration from 11.59pm Tuesday 12 July for an additional three months, enabling the Minister for Health to make pandemic orders deemed necessary to protect public health. Meanwhile, NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant encouraged individuals to get their booster vaccine and consider wearing masks indoors, but refrained from imposing any new restrictions. In SA, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton called for the Federal Government to provide greater access to COVID-19 antivirals.
On the topic of vaccines, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s recommendation that a fourth COVID-19 vaccine be made available to those above the age of 30. The news came after Minister Butler announced earlier in the week that travellers would be able visit Australia without being required to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status.
No Parliaments are sitting next week.
Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones announced a review of the Your Future, Your Super (YSFS) laws. The review will examine the consequences of the performance test and any other unintended consequences of the YSFS reforms.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority opened industry consultation on proposals to improve market discipline as well as transparency within Australia’s financial system.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics published new dwelling approval statistics, showing that approvals rose by 9.9 per cent in May, following a 3.9 per cent decline in April.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released its latest scam statistics, revealing that Australians have lost over $2 billion to scams over the last year. The three largest categories of scams were investment, payment redirection and romance scams.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced 12 projects, with a combined value of $3.7 billion, as shortlist candidates for funding under its Large Scale Battery Storage Round. The 12 projects, which have not yet been detailed, have been invited to submit full applications to the funding program.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released its Compliance Bulletin and Checklist for Semi-Scheduled Generators (SSG) that operate within the National Energy Market. The Compliance Bulletin and Checklist outlines the AER’s compliance expectations and details critical aspects of SSG operations.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action, and Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio released the state’s Gas Substitution Roadmap as part of the State Government’s plan to bring down emissions alongside the cost of living.
The Queensland Government began implementing its new progressive coal royalty arrangements, aimed at ensuring local coal producers provide funding to critical public projects while continuing to generate high profits.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The Victorian Government announced a joint venture with a consortium of Aware Super, Australian Retirement Trust and Macquarie Asset Management for the Modernisation of VicRoads. The State Government will retain ownership of VicRoads under the 40-year partnership.
Also in Victoria, the State Government finalised $2.3 billion worth of new 10-year contracts for the state’s regional bus network. From 1 July, 177 bus contracts with 58 operators came into effect.
As part of its reform of the compulsory home building compensation insurance scheme for homeowners and builders, the NSW Government is seeking public submissions on the State Insurance Regulatory Authority discussion paper. Consultation will close on 16 August 2022.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released Australia’s 2022 health report card, identifying the prologued impact of COVID, the health of First Nations peoples, and mental and chronic health conditions as key health challenges facing Australia.
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells announced an investment of $106 million over the next four years for face-to-face support for older First Nations individuals and $115 million to build culturally safe aged care facilities.
Changes to the National Cervical Screening Program came into effect, with women aged 25-74 now able to choose to swab their own cervix to screen for cervical cancer.
The Queensland Government permanently extended the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Pharmacy Pilot, with women aged between 18 and 65 able to continue to receive advice and treatment for UTIs through their local participating pharmacy.