Weekly Wrap Up
31 March 2023
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- Inflation increased 6.8 per cent in the year to February 2023, according to latest CPI data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
- Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus unveiled the proposed appointees to the new National Anti-Corruption Commission, including Justice Paul Brereton as Commissioner.
- The Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia is due to deliver its final report to the Federal Government today.
- The Federal Government has lodged its preliminary submission to the Fair Work Commission’s 2023 Annual Wage Review.
- Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil confirmed the Government is working with Latitude Financial and affected customers in relation to the company’s recent cyber attack.
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission granted extended authorisation to major supermarkets ALDI, Coles and Woolworths for continued collaboration on a short-term solution to manage soft plastics recycling.
- SA Premier Peter Malinauskas delivered his Government’s first South Australian Economic Statement[PDF], outlining the Government’s plan to capitalise on the AUKUS announcement and hydrogen as an emerging energy source.
- In Victoria, Liberal MP Moira Deeming was suspended from the Parliamentary Liberal Party for nine months, following her involvement at a recent event that found her to have connections to Nazism.
In the final sitting week before Federal Parliament breaks for the month of April, the Government saw the passage of legislation that will deliver two of its key pre-election commitments including establishing a National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) and reforming the Safeguard Mechanism.
After negotiating with the crossbench to secure the support needed for the NRF bill, the Government agreed to bring forward the date of the first review of the NRF from five years to before 31 December 2026, as well as shorten the terms of board appointments from five years to four years, with the option for an additional term of reappointment. The final amended bill passed with the support of the Greens, as well as Independent Senators David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe and the two Jacqui Lambie Network senators.
The Government’s legislation to reform the Safeguard Mechanism also passed with the support of the Greens and several Independent Senators. Significantly, in exchange for this support, the Government amended the bill to introduce a hard cap on absolute safeguard mechanism emissions, which will not be able to exceed current pollution levels. This cap will also decrease over time. Significantly, the amendments will also require all new gas entrants to have net zero scope 1 emissions from entry. Debate on this legislation and its amendments was significant, with the Senate sitting past 4am on Wednesday before holding the final vote on Thursday afternoon.
Also in Parliament, the Attorney-General introduced legislation relating to the upcoming referendum on establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. Debate on this legislation will resume when Parliament returns[PDF] in May.
NSW Minns Labor Government
After leading the NSW Labor Party to victory at last weekend’s State Election following three terms in opposition, Chris Minns was sworn in as NSW’s 47th Premier on Tuesday alongside six senior Ministers. Prue Car has been appointed Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, while Daniel Mookhey is NSW’s new Treasurer and Michael Daley will serve as Attorney General. Additionally, Penny Sharpe, John Graham, Ryan Park and Jo Haylen have maintained their shadow portfolio responsibilities in the transition to government. The remainder of the ministry is expected to be confirmed in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the vote count is ongoing, with three seats in doubt at the time of writing. Based on current numbers, Labor is ahead in Ryde and the Liberal Party is ahead in the seats of Holsworthy and Terrigal. If these trends translate through the rest of the count, the Coalition will finish with 35 seats while Labor looks set to hold 46 – one short of the 47 needed to form a majority Government. However, Independent MPs Alex Greenwich, Greg Piper and Joe McGirr have confirmed they will provide confidence and supply to the new Minns Government.
Also in Parliament, the Government’s Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving Our Tax System) Bill 2023 passed the House of Representatives and was introduced to the Senate. The bill proposes to transfer administration of four unique Deductible Gift Recipient categories to the Australian Taxation Office, as well as transferring provisions relating to maintenance of departmental registers.
The ABS released latest retail trade data, indicating that retail sales rose 0.2 per cent in February and 6.4 per cent compared to February 2022.
Assistant Minister for Trade Tim Ayres visited China for the Bo’ao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023 to discuss economic and trade issues as well as the future of renewable energy. At the conference, Mr Ayres met with Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen as part of the continued efforts to improve the economic relationship between the two nations.
The Federal Government opened a voluntary tender process for water buybacks in order to achieve the Sustainable Diversion Limits to Bridge the Gap under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Permanent water licence holders across NSW and Southern Queensland have been invited to contribute towards the project.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler joined Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly for an update on Australia’s COVID-19 response and the Government’s new ‘Top Up’ vaccination booster campaign. Minister Butler announced that care workers who contract COVID but do not have leave entitlements will be able to access a government-funded support payment.
The 2021 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey was released, showing that 91 per cent of respondents felt that violence against women was a problem, while only 47 per cent believed that it was a problem in their suburb or town. Elsewhere, the Government tabled its official response to the parliamentary Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence, supporting 72 of the inquiry’s 88 recommendations
Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride unveiled the National Rural and Remote Nursing Generalist Framework 2023-2027, which provides a guide for Registered Nurses working outside urban areas. The Framework covers clinical decision-making, culturally safe practices, and how to foster partnerships with clients, families and communities.
Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John launched a parliamentary inquiry into attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessment and support services in Australia, with the Committee due to report by 27 September this year.