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Category Archives: Covid-19 News

Media around COVID-19

How did the COVID-19 crisis affect your organisation in July?

CHIA’s second survey to understand the trends and emerging issues for the community housing industry as it responds to the COVID-19 crisis is now open.

The survey focuses on your organisation’s experience of the COVID-19 crisis during July 2020. It is open to any community housing organisation, regardless of whether your organisation participated in the first survey held in June 2020.

The survey takes about twenty minutes to complete and your responses will inform the national industry picture and CHIA’s advocacy priorities. We are already using the results from the first survey and there is keen interest in how the sector and its tenants are faring as well as what learnings can contribute to future policy and practice design.

The survey is designed to be completed once for your whole organisation/ group of companies by a Senior Executive. The questions cover a range of topics including financial effects of COVID-19, your organisation’s asset, housing, customer service and human resources management responses, and effects on tenant incomes and housing demand.

CHIA has engaged an independent contractor to conduct the surveys. Your answers are completely confidential.

Take the survey now!

Or cut and paste this link into your browser: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/66ZGQS9

CHIA: Covid-19 surveys

CHIA has launched monthly surveys to understand the trends and emerging issues for the community housing industry as it responds to the COVID-19 crisis.

The first of the monthly surveys is now open until midnight on Friday, 12 June. The survey was piloted with several organisations both large and small before release. Responses will inform the national industry picture and CHIA’s advocacy priorities.

The survey is designed to be completed once for the whole organisation/ group of companies by a senior executive. CHIA has emailed details to CEOs.

Update: 27/05/2020

 

  • PM Morrison speech seeks Accord-style outcomes from unions, business.
    • five key areas – award simplification, enterprise agreements, casuals and fixed term employees, compliance and enforcement, and greenfields agreements
    • five ‘working groups’ of unions, employers and select others (rural, multicultural, women, families) will have until September to come with ideas
  • The ACTU said they will approach process in good faith with two conditions:
    • ‘will any proposal make jobs more secure for working people’, and ‘making sure that working people get their fair share of the nation’s wealth.’
  • The PM this morning says that the focus of possible IR reforms will be job creation rather than conditions at work. (ABC)
    • also said that he is considering introducing legislation to overrule a federal court decision making casual workers entitled to paid leave
  • The PM yesterday flagged delays in several areas:
    • said the timetable for a referendum on indigenous recognition would depend on whether ‘consensus is able to be achieved for it to be successful’
    • religious freedom changes and an anti-corruption body ‘not something Cabinet has considered for some time’
  • The federal government is working on a multi-billion scheme to construct residential housing (AFR):
    • being worked on by Treasurer Frydenberg and Minister for Housing Sukkar
    • expected to focus on large cash grants to buyers of new homes (SMH)
  • Former Premiers Mike Baird and Jay Weatherill have jointly called for National Cabinet to be retained for at least another twelve months to build a federal (as opposed to national) economic plan. (Guardian)

Update: 21/05/202

 

  • President Trump says ‘the incompetence of China’ has caused ‘mass worldwide killing.’
  • US Secretary of State Pompeo has defended Australia. “The Chinese Communist Party chose to threaten Australia with economic retribution for the simple act of asking for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus. It’s not right. We stand with Australia and the more than 120 nations now who have taken up the American call for an inquiry…’
  • Energy Minister Taylor will today release the Technology Investment Road Map, pointing to a larger role for gas, hydrogen and pumped hydro rather than coal. (AFR)
    • The Australian says that investment and tax incentives to drive cheaper energy costs are likely to be included in the October Budget.
  • A leaked draft report by the manufacturing taskforce advising the NCCC recommends a range of measures to support manufacturing (Guardian):
    • create a new Manufacturing Board reporting to the Minister; the creation of Industry Hubs; a national campaign to change the image of manufacturing;
    • focus on particular areas: food and agritech; mintech and rare earths; energy and renewables, advanced building materials; healthcare and biotech; space; defence
    • a big focus developing gas through the use of subsidies, underwriting, and co-investment.
  • Safe Work Australia yesterday eased its guidelines on lifts.
    • Changed from a requirement for four square metres per person to a rule which says physically distance ‘as far as you reasonably can.’ (AFR)
  • Federal Court case yesterday has found that casual workers are entitled to full time worker entitlements such as annual leave, paid carers leave and paid compassionate leave. (AFR)
  • The JobKeeper scheme is being oversubscribed (6.4m people subscribed vs 6m forecast), and may need fine-tuning. (AFR)
    • says that one option flagged by experts might be to extend the 30 per cent revenue fall test from one month to three months from July
  • Grattan Institute warns of October ‘cliff’ due to the ending of several programmes: JobKeeper ends, double-JobSeeker ends, welfare stimulus payments end, cash flow support for SMEs end, and six month loan deferrals from banks end. (AFR)  – good reference for the homelessness inquiry submission http://www.afr.com/news/economy/rework-jobkeeper-or-risk-falling-off-a-cliff-20200520-p54upk?btis
  • Many people withdrawing super early have been spending it on online wagering, according to ‘sources familiar with bank transaction data.’ (AFR)
  • Andrew Hastie MP (Lib) has called for ’time-limited tax incentives’ to build self-reliance in key medical supplies and other critical goods in order to reduce dependence on China. (Australian)
  • The Senate Select Committee into Covid-19 meets today from 10am. Witnesses include Attorney General Department (IR specialists), Fair Work Commission, Fair Work Ombudsman, and Treasury (including the Secretary).

Update: 21/05/2020

 

  • PM Morrison will use a June 4 summit with Indian President Narendra Modi to cement new agreements developing reliable supply chains in key strategic sectors including medical goods, technology, and critical minerals. (Australian)
    • They will also sign a new defence agreement allowing reciprocal access to bases and co-operation on military projects, and a new education partnership regarding universities.
  • Chinese officials have drawn up a list of more Australian exports – including seafood, oats, fruit, dairy, and wine – that might be targeted for trade restrictions, according to Bloomberg.
    • suggests that they could be subject to stricter quality checks, anti-dumping probes, tariffs, customs delays, or state media encouraged consumer boycotts.
  • The World Health Assembly has formally voted for independent inquiry into Covid-19.
  • NCCC Chair Nev Power has flagged a gas pipeline from WA, boosted gas production in eastern states, and shifting energy intensive manufacturing west as options under consideration by the NCCC. (AFR)
  • Industry Minister Andrews speaks at the National Press Club today (AFR):
    • will say that while government might support domestic manufacturing of particular items like PPE, consumers will drive any return to domestic manufacturing.
    • will also rule out increasing tax incentives for R&D, and press for better alignment of researchers and industry.
  • The Fair Work Commission has advised the government that it has no jurisdiction to adjudicate a wave of JobKeeper disputes. (AFR)
    • Most of the complaints centre on businesses denying staff the wage subsidy.
  • The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is reviewing employment assistance programmes to ensure that they return employees to work as soon as possible (AFR).
  • The UK government has suggested that some countries with good Covid records might skip the two-week incoming quarantine period (meaning, in practice, Australia and NZ and others). (AFR)

Update: 19/05/2020

 

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has reversed course and backed an inquiry into Covid-19. (ABC)
  • The Chinese government yesterday confirmed that they will impose tariffs of 80.5 per cent on Australian barley.
  • Prime Minister Morrison will make a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday next week.
  • Industrial Relations Minister Porter says reforming enterprise agreement bargaining to make it simpler and quicker will be a priority. (AFR)
  • ACCI is pushing for ‘immediate repairs’ to the IR system, including staggered start and finish times without overtime, and more flexible stand-down provisions. (Australian)
  • Jane Halton (NCCC board, Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation) has warned of ‘vaccine nationalism’ with countries refusing to share any new medicines. (AFR)
  • Energy Minister Taylor will today announce alterations to $2b Climate Solutions Fund to target co-investment from state governments and the private sector, and support co-investment in technological change in heavy industries and transport (Australian).
  • Minister for Northern Australia Pitt says he wants the $3b Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund eligibility criteria to be relaxed to boost the economy. (AFR)
  • New Zealand Opposition leader Simon Bridges’ support as preferred PM has dropped to 4.5 percent (vs Jacinda Ardern 59.5 per cent). (Newshub)
  • The Senate Select Committee into Covid-19 meets today (1pm). Witnesses: Department of Education

Update 15/05/2020

  • National Cabinet meets today (10am). They will be briefed by Treasury Secretary Kennedy, RBA chief Lowe, and APRA chief Byres.
  • Prime Minister Morrison has flagged changes to JobKeeper will be forthcoming after the review in June, saying that some ‘anomalies and issues’ need to be addressed.
    • The SMH reports that the review will consider extending the September 27 cut-off with tightened eligibility.
  • Labor have internal differences over JobKeeper, according to David Crowe in SMH:
    • shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers’ proposal for extending to universities and foreign state-owned enterprises was not properly costed and didn’t go through normal shadow cabinet processes, prompting friction within Labor.
  • Fair Work Commission chief Iain Ross has canvassed the deferral of minimum wage increases for some businesses based on Covid-19 impacts. (Australian)
    • ACCI has urged a deferral until mid-2021; Labor and the ACTU have stated firm opposition to any deferral.
  • Transport Minister McCormack has said that Virgin Australia should be sold to a private company rather than Qld Govt; colleagues Dutton and Littleproud have been very critical of Qld govt proposal; and the Qld LNP has declared opposition to govt bid. (Australian)
  • New Zealand govt has announced in their Budget a NZ$50b fund to combat Covid-19.
    • NZ economy will contract by 4.6% this year, unemployment peak at 9.8% this year, and govt debt (currently 30% GDP) peak at 54% in 2023.
  • Polling by Australia Institute in Eden Monaro (without using candidate names) finds ALP ahead of Coalition 51.1/48.8. (AFR)
  • Julia Gillard has been appointed chair of UK-based research investment giant Wellcome Trust, and will use the role to call for an investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak. (ABC)

Update:14/05/2020

 

  • Federal government is reluctant to overhaul JobKeeper, according to AFR.
    • Minister Cormann has rejected truncating the time frame: ‘It is a six-month programme, it will remain in place for six months.’
    • Government source says ALP plan to reduce ‘overpay’ would be complicated, take six weeks to implement and not be worth it.
  • AIG has suggested changes to JobKeeper: (Australian)
    • allow businesses which are part of larger groups to meet a 30% reduction threshold, rather than 50%
    • allow ATO Commissioner discretion to extend payments to businesses with lower margins.
  • HECS creator Bruce Chapman and other economists suggest HECs-style business loans to deal with ongoing crisis. (SMH)
  • NSW Tourism Minister Ayres is demanding all state borders be re-opened from July 1 to boost domestic tourism. (Australian)
  • House prices could drop 32% in the event of persistent economic slump, according to Commbank. (SMH)
  • Survey estimates 70 per cent of non-frontline public servants are working from home. Victorian public service chief Chris Eccles has asked public servants whether ‘we need to make it more conventional, rather than an exception.’ (AFR)
  • House of Reps Economics Committee meets today (9.30am). Witnesses: Industry Super Australia, ME Bank
  • WHO warns Covid-19 may never be eradicated. (Washington Post)

Update 13/05/2020

 

  • Treasurer Frydenberg has tested negative for Covid-19. (He was tested after coughing fit in Parliament yesterday)
  • Fears of trade war with China, after they banned meat imports from four Australian abattoirs. (SMH)
    • Trade Minister Birmingham seeking urgent talks with Chinese counterpart.
    • Dairy and wine industries worried that they might be next in line.
  • Senate Select Committee on Covid-19 sits today (9am). Witnesses: Dept of Health, PM&C, NCCC, NIAA.
  • Attorney General Porter has signalled Govt may limit enterprise agreement variations to twelve months. (AFR)
    • follows One Nation suggestion (and Porter needs their vote in Senate on potential disallowance motion).
  • Fair Work Commission chief Iain Rodd says that minimum wage panel is obliged to go ahead with decision by June 30. (AFR)
    • ACCI has called for the govt to give the FWC discretion to delay in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Increased pressure for JobKeeper scheme changes:
    • Coalition MPs Warren Entsch and Craig Kelly have called for JobKeeper to be extended in some circumstances. (Australian)
    • Jason Falinski MP pressing to phase it out when schools return. (Australian)
    • Labor will seek to extend JobKeeper to university workers and entities owned by foreign governments through a disallowance motion. (Guardian)
  • Health Minister Hunt will elevate importance of mental health issues with creation of new position of Deputy CMO for Mental Health. (Australian)

Update: 12/05/2020

 

  • Parliament resumes today.
    • Treasurer Frydenberg will deliver an economic update at noon, warning ‘there is no money tree. What we borrow today, we must pay back in the future.’
    • the Treasurer will say that fulfilling the three stage restrictions will generate $9.4b activity per month, but that if states retreat the costs will be significant.
  • Prime Minister Morrison suggests that JobKeeper might be extended for some industries, saying he’s ‘fully aware’ that it might need to be adjusted to support ‘sectors that come under strain over a greater period of time.’ (Australian)
    • Anthony Albanese says JobKeeper could be extended for some, but trimmed for others to avoid people being paid more than they would in normal times. (ABC)
    • COSBOA chief Peter Strong says JobKeeper should not be touched because certainty is important to small business. (AFR)
  • ALP calling for a National Housing Stimulus Plan to deal with slowdown. (SMH)
    • urges government to utilise super funds and private sector
    • focus on social housing and affordable properties
  • Labor’s attempt to disallow industrial relations regulation allowing short notice on pay deals is set to fail, with One Nation expressing opposition to its plan. (Guardian)
  • Chinese barley tariff threat is a retaliation for Australia imposing duties on Chinese steel under anti-dumping laws. (AFR)
  • New Zealand will overtake on Australia in easing restrictions by the end of next week under a plan to ‘go hard, go early’. (Australian)
    • On Thursday retail, cafes, cinemas, restaurants, gyms open; Monday schools open; and next Thursday pubs open.
  • Essential poll shows people are comfortable with easing restrictions, only a quarter opposing. (Guardian)
    • 67% support ALP shadow minister Kristina Keneally’s position on restricting labour imports.

Update: 06/05/2020

 

  • National Cabinet agrees to aim for returning to work in July:
    • When they meet on Friday they will lift restrictions in three stages with aim of establishing ‘a Covid-safe economy in July 2020.’
    • Each state will move at its own pace.
  • National Cabinet agreed that SafeWorkAustralia would be single source of information on workplace Covid-19 safety protocols:
  • Australia’s Covid-19 infection ‘growth factor’ has risen to be above one for the first time in more than a month (ABC)
    • key measure, means more new cases this week than last week.
    • reflects new cluster at Victorian meatworks
  • Australia is in a position to start exporting ventilators. (AFR)
    • follows the Industry Minister Andrews assembling a ‘Tiger Team’ (Dulux chief Patrick Houlihan, infrastructure specialist Darren Norman, former health chief Glenys Beauchamp, Defence Scientist Tanya Munro among others) to break down blockages
  • Assistant Minister for Finance and Charities Senator Seselja is to amend Ministerial guidelines to provide extra credit to charities. (Australian)
  • Qantas chief Joyce has flagged post-recovery Syd-Melb flights costing as low as $19 to stimulate travel. (Australian)
  • JobKeeper payments start flowing today.
  • Treasurer Frydenberg has been given 24/7 security detail due to threats over economic impact of Covid-19. (West Australian)
  • Senate Select Committee into Covid-19 sits today (1pm). Witnesses – Attorney General’s Dept, Digital Transformation Agency, Dept of Health
  • The UK has overtaken Italy as the country with second highest death toll.

Update: 07/05/2020

  • The suicide rate in Australia could increase by 50 per cent over the next five years due to economic social impacts of Covid-19, University of Sydney research finds. (Australian)
  • PM in Facebook interview last night says of Covid-19: ’It won’t be eradicated. There will still be outbreaks.’
    • This is a shift from April, when the PM had said that elimination ‘could happen.’
  • Treasurer Frydenberg says JobKeeper will be reviewed after three months as ‘some industries will recover quicker than others (Sky)
  • Chairman of National Covid-19 Commission says that universities and government could consider charter flights for international student and use two week quarantine periods. (AFR)
  • The Australian Industry Group has called on govt to use emergency powers to prevent new class actions being filed during the Covid-19 crisis. (Australian)
    • The Parliamentary Joint Committee on corporations and financial services will investigate global litigation funding firms activities in Australia.
  • Dave Sharma MP says that any ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ should be extended to Pacific Islands to form a ‘Trans Pacific Bubble’. (Australian)
  • NSW Business chief Stephen Cartwright is urging the federal govt to give employers the right to require employees to download COVIDSafe app. (Australian)
  • Leaked memo from ALP leader Albanese to caucus suggests wariness of big-spending platform going into next election. (SMH)
    • Says ALP ‘must acknowledge constrained fiscal situation that will likely confront an incoming Labor government.’ 
    • Says ALP is setting up four working groups, each led by two shadow cabinet ministers to analyse post-Covid responses
  • ALP shadow industry Minister O’Connor urges govt to consider equity injections into crucial manufacturing businesses to get through crisis. (Australian)
  • NSW government to amend legislation next week to give local councils more power to increase rates. (SMH)
  • There are ‘widespread suspicions in the intelligence community’ that a staff member of the US Embassy in Canberra has been leaking material to Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson to push a narrative hyping up the Wuhan lab story. (SMH)

Senate Select Committee on Covid-19 meets today (10am). Witnesses will be Treasury and ATO.

Update: 03/05/2020

Key economic related points from the PM’s conference yesterday 03/05/2020:

  • Just over 1.5 million Australians have applied for JobSeeker – 900,000 claims have been processed in the past six weeks
  • Unemployment is expected to rise to 10 per cent
  • 650,000 businesses have applied for JobKeeper
  • 950,000 Australians have requested early super access
  • 340,000 businesses have received a cash flow boost ($6 billion)
  • 6.8 million Australians have received the one-off payment
  • Net overseas migration to fall by a third on the 18/19 levels in 19/20 – and much more the following year

This morning 04/05/2020:

  • US Secretary of State Pompeo claims ‘enormous evidence’ that virus originated in Wuhan lab, and that it was ‘man-made’.
    • Contradicts official US intelligence community assessment that Covid-19 ‘was not man-made or genetically modified.’
    • Pompeo has also claimed that ‘China has a history of infecting the world’
  • Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson says all virus research with foreign nationals should be halted until a safety and national security review is done. (Australian).
  • South Australia set to remove intrastate travel ban within days, and encourage citizens to stay in beach towns, wine regions and holiday homes. (Australian)
  • Spending per person has declined 20 per cent since pre-pandemic levels, and spending has reduced as the crisis has progressed, according to AlphaBeta. (SMH)
  • ALP Home Affairs shadow Keneally’s call for reduced migration has received cautious support from unions but some internal criticism for moving beyond party position (SMH):
    • the issue had been discussed within shadow Cabinet but no policy decision had been made, according to multiple senior sources.
    • Michelle Grattan says that the speech was cleared with Labor leader Albanese’s office.
  • Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick has written to Minister Cormann urging that government procurement rules be changed to favour Australian suppliers. (SMH)
  • A group of countries including Australia have been discussing building business and tourism ties post-crisis, including opening up their borders to each other to each other over time. (WSJ)
    • They are deemed to be countries that have made progress in combating the virus – Australia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece and New Zealand.
    • Austria’s Chancellor Kurz initiated the discussions; their first virtual meeting was last week, and they will meet every two weeks by teleconference.
  • British Cabinet Minister Gove says the government is looking at staggered work shifts to reduce load on public transport at any one time.

Update 30/04/2020

  • PM says National Cabinet will discuss the baseline restrictions in week beginning May 11.
    wants domestic travel opened soon, but international travel will remain restricted: ‘I can’t see international travel occurring anytime soon.’ (except for NZ)
  • ‘government sources’ say May 11 week meeting may see restrictions limiting gatherings to two or three people lifted to larger groups such as ten. (Australian)
  • China developments:
  • Coalition backbenchers (Hastie, Wilson, Canavan) express anger that Twiggy Forrest invited Chinese Consul-General to speak at a Ministerial press conference. (Australian)
  • Health Minister Hunt has stated that it is not the government’s position that the virus began in a Wuhan wet market, that the original source ‘has not been determined,’ but that it was early spread within a wet market. (Australian)
  • PM Morrison has told Cabinet that there is no evidence to support the ‘Wuhan laboratory’ theory of Covid-19 origins, according to SMH.
  • Sarah Henderson MP (Lib, Corangamite) has called for Victoria to end its Belt and Road agreement with China. (Australian)
  • Tasmanian Premier Gutwein will today announce plans for relaxations, including National Parks and green spaces. (Mercury)
  • NT Chief Minister Gunner will release a road map for lifting restrictions, with the goal of normality by early June. (Australian)
  • A NSW Cabinet-in-confidence document says outdoor gathering will be the next freedom, along with outdoor gym equipment and playgrounds. (Daily Telegraph)
  • Allowing larger outdoor gatherings slated for next month. The document presents a matrix of economic benefit, well-being benefit, and Covid-19 risk.

EY webinar: Practical steps for the Community Housing Sector

The community housing sector is facing new and unprecedented challenges as it navigates the complexities of operating during COVID19. Providers are under pressure to maintain their viability, protect and maintain workforce and manage risks to ensure essential services continue to those most in need.

EY recently organised a webinar with a specialist panel to discuss the practical steps community housing providers can take to navigate challenges around business viability, workforce and government stimulus. If you are interested in participating in a re-run of the webinar please let CHIA know.

To access the recording please click here

For the accompanying slides please click here.

Update: 29/04/2020

COVID-19: Update 29/04/2020

  • Health minister Greg Hunt says US authorities would not be able to access data collected by COVIDSafe app, based on advice from Attorney General.
    • Hunt: ‘there is no application to the US law in relation to this app… In any event, the Biosecurity Act determination trumps it.’ (SMH)
  • China reverberations:
    • Chinese Embassy leaks conversation with DFAT Secretary Frances Adamson; DFAT objects to breach of protocol and questions account.
    • Chairman of National Foundation for Australia-China Relations, Warwick Smith, stepped down weeks ago, understood to have ‘held concerns’ about the new body. (Australian)
    • Andrew Hastie MP suggests that Australia should take back the Port of Darwin to reassert our sovereignty. (DT)
  • Former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry says government response has been ‘very good’. (ABC RN)
    • Expects that government will be looking at adjusting JobKeeper to wind back early if unused.
    • Doubts that JobSeeker will go back to original level, and says it shouldn’t.
  • And the FT has Bondi Beach on the front page.