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What is National Cabinet?
National Cabinet is a new construct, established to provide a coordinated, national approach to addressing the challenges of COVID-19. Sitting around this table is the Prime Minister and the Premiers and Chief Ministers of all States and Territories. It is not Federal Cabinet and does not have Federal Government authority. This is an important distinction when it comes to decisions of National Cabinet. These are not law and in most cases require State and Territories to determine the details and pass legislation.
ECONOMY: Last week, the Treasurer updated Australia on the challenges the economy faces. Our government sees business at the centre of the economy, not the government. On the other side of the virus, we will need economic policy measures that are pro growth, encourage business to employ people, enable business to invest. Treasury data shows every extra week the current restrictions remain in place, is a $4billion hit to the economy. The full transcript of the Treasurerer’s speech of Tuesday 12 May can be found HERE and his press conference of Thursday 14 May regarding job figures HERE.
ROAD OUT: National Cabinet has established a three step framework to gradually remove baseline restrictions to enable Australians to live in a COVID-19 safe economy. Individual states and territories will determine the timeframe for graduating between steps and individual restrictions to remove.
COVIDSafe APP: A voluntary opt-in contact app, COVIDSafe, has been launched to help health authorities know who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The App is voluntary to download and no Commonwealth department or agency will have access to the data. Legislation regarding privacy of the data passed Parliemtn this week. See HERE for full details of the legislation.
JOBKEEPER: Parliament has passed the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment legislation. A flat payment of $1,500/fortnight for 6 million Australians. Payments will be facilitated through the ATO for businesses that register. So far there have been more than 800,000 ABN registrations. The ATO have released details of the alternative turnover test, which is detailed HERE.
JOBSEEKER: The Government has temporarily expanded eligibility to income support payments and established a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight on top of fortnightly payments. A new partner income threshold of $3,068.80/fortnight came into effect from 27 April, further expanding eligibility for those who have lost their job.
SCHOOLS: National Cabinet agreed with the medical expert advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), that schools can be open and they agreed schools would progressively re-open to face-to-face learning, at the choosing of each state and territory, relevant to their health advice and particular local situation. A message to teachers from the Prime Minister can be viewed HERE.
SPORT: National Cabinet endorsed new Sport and Recreational Activities Principles to help provide a pathway for a staged return of community and professional sport, as well as recreational activities, without compromising the health of individuals or the community.
AVIATION: Qantas and Virgin Australia Groups will operate a minimum domestic network servicing metropolitan and regional routes after a $165 million investment from the Federal Government. Our objective is to ensure there are two commercially viable airlines and we will be engaging with Virgin’s administrator.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Treasury expects the unemployment rate to rise to 10 per cent in the June quarter from 5.1 per cent. In the absence of the $130 billion JobKeeper payment, Treasury estimates the unemployment rate would be 5 percentage points higher and would peak at around 15 per cent.
YEAR 12 STUDENTS: There will be no Year 13 or a mass repeating of Year 12.
COMMERCIAL RENT RELIEF: States and territories will implement a mandatory Code of Conduct to impose a set of good faith leasing principles that will apply to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants. Queensland’s commercial rental Regulation came into effect on 28 May and can be accessed HERE.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES: National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus. Residential tenancies will be dealt with by each state and territory.
CHILD CARE: We’re backing free early childhood education and care for around one million families, no matter what type of service they use.
FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Temporary changes to the foreign investment review framework will now require approval for all foreign investments, regardless of value.
TEMPORARY VISA HOLDERS: Those who are unable to support themselves over the next six months, either through work, savings or access to superannuation are strongly encouraged to return home.
STIMULUS PAYMENT: The $750 stimulus payment will be paid to social security and veteran income support recipients, eligible concession and health card holders, as well as recipients of family assistance and social security income support payments. If you think you are eligible and you have not received your first stumulus payment, please call my office on 5479 2800.
SUPERANNUATION: The Government will allow individuals in financial stress, as a result of the coronavirus, to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
BUSINESS: Full details for the Government’s support package for business can be found HERE including changes to the instant asset write-off, cash flow assistance, JobsHub etc. I do a regular business update summarising decisions made each week which can be found HERE.
DEFENCE: There are around 2,100 ADF members providing support including contact tracing, planning assistance, and assisting police with mandatory quarantine arrangements for international air arrivals.
HIGHER EDUCATION: The cost to study online course for six months across universities and private providers will be slashed, opening up training for new jobs in nurses, teaching, health and IT. More information HERE.