Volume 73 – number 12 – political news

Published 8 May 2020.

Below is a summary of edition no. 12 for 2020. To access the full version you need to subscribe. Click the link to the left to view your subscription options.

 The Week in Politics

Canberra, Australia – 5 May 2020: Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlines the COVIDSafe plan. Photo by Rob Keating – http://photos.keatingmedia.com.au

This afternoon the Prime Minister announced a COVIDSafe 3-step framework that was approved by the National Cabinet.

It now falls with states and territories as to how quickly the plan is enacted. The aim is to have Australia back to a more normal society in July.

“Step one will enable greater connection with friends and family, allowing gatherings up to 10 people, and five guests in your own home.

Australia Needs a Plan for Economic Recovery

Canberra, Australia – 5 May 2020: The view across the front row of media during the Treasurer’s address. Michael Keating from Keating Media is in the foreground. Photo by Rob Keating – http://photos.keatingmedia.com.au

The key take-out from Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg’s, National Press Club address on Tuesday was that while Australia had a strong balance sheet in February when it went into the Covid 19 crisis, it was much weaker now. He reaffirmed this in an interview on Wednesday when the ATO revealed there was a less than anticipated demand for the Jobkeeper allowance.

Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, had called for an extension of the scheme to all casual and foreign workers and the Treasurer responded that Australia “did not have a money tree that it could go to for additional finance”. There is a view held by some economists that the Government can outlay much greater stimulus across the economy without adverse consequences. This can be done by employing the Reserve Bank’s balance sheet. But there are limits on the Bank’s capacity to print money.

New Zealand Prime Minister participates in National Cabinet

On Tuesday this week National Cabinet welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for a part of the meeting to discuss Australia’s and New Zealand’s approaches to combating the virus. The two countries agreed to start work on a trans-Tasman COVID-19 safe travel zone, easing travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand. 

Indonesian Free Trade Agreement good news for farmers

Canberra, Australia – 4 February 2020: David Littleproud adresses the media after being elected as the deputy leader. Photo by Rob Keating – http://keatingmedia.com.au)

The Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud has welcomed the news that Indonesia have completed the domestic ratification process for the free trade deal with Australia.

Minister Littleproud said this bilateral agreement has been an objective of the Australian Government for a long time and the benefits will begin to flow from the 5th July.

“This is great news for Australian farmers and Australia’s agricultural sector,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Indonesia is already our 6th largest agricultural export market. This agreement will help us see the $2.5 billion export market grow even further.

It’s Easier to Switch and Save

It’s now easier than ever to make the switch and save on your energy bills, with the launch of a new and improved version of the Morrison Government’s free energy price comparison website Energy Made Easy. 

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has today released new features to Energy Made Easy to help more Australians find a better energy deal. 

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction said now more than ever Australian families and small businesses are conscious of their energy bills with COVID19 forcing more Australians to be home. 

Gold Coast’s largest road project begins

Works have started on the $1 billion Pacific Motorway upgrade from Varsity Lakes to Tugun, the Gold Coast’s largest road project.

Concrete safety barriers have been put up, VMS boards installed and speeds reduced to make way for the mammoth jointly-funded project, which will see the M1 transformed into at least six lanes from Brisbane to Tugun. 

It comes as another milestone is reached on the $218.5 million M1 upgrade between Mudgeeraba and Varsity Lakes with the new Stapley Drive bridge expected to open to traffic next week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government had fast-tracked the project to help bust congestion and create a jobs pipeline to help in the recovery from COVID-19.

Universities to take baby steps towards resuming face-to-face teaching

Universities Australia have said that they welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today of a three-step plan to re-open the Australian economy.

All universities are currently only providing online learning to comply with COVID-19 guidelines around physical distancing.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said universities were considering carefully on how best to resume face-to-face teaching when appropriate to do so and welcomed the inclusion of face-to-face teaching in all three stages of the plan.

Photos from around the house and the NPC

5 April – The Prime Minister addresses the media in the Main Committee room at Parliament House
Canberra, Australia – 8 May 2020: Professor Brenden Murphy and Prime Minister Scott Morrison update the media and announce the 3-step plan. Photo by Rob Keating – https://photos.keatingmedia.com.au
Canberra, Australia – 5 May 2020: An ABC journalist files a report after Prime Minister Scott Morrison media conference. Photo by Rob Keating – https://photos.keatingmedia.com.au

From the Vault

Below are some articles from the 6 May 2005 edition of Inside Canberra

Howard ducks and weaves on Athens interview

Whatever tortured logic John Howard applies to re-write the meaning of his now famous (or infamous) interview with News Ltd journalists, he has failed. The interview made it crystal clear the PM was signaling to Peter Costello, the nearly ten Budgets Treasurer would not be leading the Liberals to the next election. Howard abandoned his normal ‘fig leaf’ position that he will stay on as Leader “while ever my party wants me.” Now he was saying he could beat Beazley a third time. The two experienced political journalists who interviewed Howard in Athens – Steve Lewis of The Australian and Malcolm Farr of the Sydney Daily Telegraph – were both astonished at the tone of the interview, Howard’s super confident demeanor, as well as his utterances.

Howard won’t stand down – ever

Dennis Shanahan, who is regarded as the journalist in the press gallery closest to Howard meant – “It’s on, the Liberal leadership challenge has begun. But it’s not Peter Costello challenging John Howard, rather it’s John Howard fronting up to Peter Costello,” Shanahan wrote in The Australian. Inside Canberra has long believed that Howard has no intention of standing down for Peter Costello, and from Howard’s self-interested perspective, why should he? Howard will go to the next election and if he wins, in all probability he will settle down for another full term. He won’t go unless his party kicks him out, or he leaves in a box. This means that, by the middle of next year at the latest, Costello will have to either cave in or fight. He doesn’t have the numbers now to win in the party room, nor is he likely to have them should he challenge anytime next year.

Costello hasn’t got what it takes

If Costello challenges and loses, then he will either go to the backbench, or leave politics. Having made ten Budget speeches is not sufficient to earn Costello the right to ask Howard to stand down so he can become the unelected PM. There are questions about the Treasurer’s suitability. He lacks the energy and total commitment needed at the top end of politics. Hence, he has only a small minority of supporters in the Government ranks (unlike the assiduous Brendan Nelson). More importantly, Costello has made little impression on voters. He twice before had the chance to seize the Liberal Leadership – the first being when John Hewson departed, and the second when Alexander Downer stood down after achieving the unenviable record of being the worst Opposition Leader since Federation. This negative view of Costello is not confined to minority left-wing thought in Australia.

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