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UN call for global ceasefires amidst COVID-19

On 23 March 2020 UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for ‘an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’ to focus on diplomatic solutions that would allow life-saving aid to reach the most vulnerable people in conflict zones and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Read more...

COVID-19 and private health insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic presents both opportunities and challenges to private health insurers, with short-term and long-term impacts and questions being raised about its role and relevance during this time. A recent report from the Australia Institute argues that restrictions on non-urgent elective surgery, applying from early April 2020, will likely result in ‘windfall’ profits for health insurers over the next six months. Read more...

Seeking asylum in the time of coronavirus: COVID-19 pandemic effects on refugees and people seeking asylum

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every country across the globe, and creating a multitude of challenges for the entire world community. Refugees and people seeking asylum face particular vulnerabilities. Specific concerns include: maintaining safety measures in overcrowded camps and detention centres; lack of access to countries of asylum or resettlement due to border closures; and lack of income support for those who have lost their jobs. Read more...

The Eden-Monaro by-election and COVID-19

The resignation of the Labor member for the southern NSW seat of Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly MP, raises the question of how a by-election might be conducted for the seat under conditions of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more...

COVID-19: Major partnership with private hospitals

On 31 March 2020, a major partnership with the private hospital sector was announced as part of national efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In a joint statement the Minister for Health and representatives of the private health sector and medical and nursing associations, stated that the aim is ‘to ensure the full resources of our world class health system, are ready and focussed on treating patients as required, through the coronavirus pandemic’. The new arrangements were described as ‘unprecedented’ by the Health Minister. The Australian Government will guarantee the viability of the private hospital sector in return for the sector making private hospital beds... Read more...

COVID-19 Economic response—delegation by the Director of Human Biosecurity

On 23 March 2020 the Parliament enacted the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Omnibus Act). Amongst other things, the Omnibus Act amends the Biosecurity Act 2015 to allow the Director of Human Biosecurity—being the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer—to delegate some of his, or her, functions and powers about human biosecurity control orders. The relevant amendments commenced on 25 March 2020. The Omnibus Act represents part of the Government’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19, which is a listed human disease under the Biosecurity Act. Human biosecurity control orders Under section 60 of the Biosecurity Act, a chief human biosecurity officer, a hum... Read more...

COVID-19 Economic response—temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

On 18 December 2019 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published its annual overview of corporate insolvencies for the 2018–2019 financial year and made the following observations: small to medium size corporate insolvencies continue to dominate external administrators’ reports. 85 per cent had assets of $100,000 or less, 76 per cent had fewer than 20 employees and 38 per cent had liabilities of $250,000 or less and 96 per cent of creditors in this group received between 0–11 cents in the dollar, reflecting the asset/liability profile of small to medium size corporate insolvencies. On 23 March 2020 the Parliament enacted the Coronavirus Ec... Read more...

COVID-19 Economic response—temporary relief for financially distressed individuals

The Australian Financial Security Authority statistics show that bankruptcies fell by 10.6% in the period from October to December 2019; and that there were 3,385 new bankruptcies in Australia in that time. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic can be expected to create significant financial pressure on many companies. As Dr Scott Kiel-Chisholm of the Queensland University of Technology writes: … the impact of bankruptcy on the debtor can be personally devastating on the bankrupt’s self-esteem, ability to obtain bank loans and secure specific employment and business positions. Indeed, impact of the bankruptcy may extend to the debtor’s family members and friends ... Read more...

COVID-19 Legislative response—Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration—Remote Communities

This FlagPost was first published on 7 April 2020 and has been updated on 9 April 2020 to reflect an amendment to the original determination. As set out in an earlier FlagPost (COVID-19 Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration Explainer) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, on 18 March 2020 the Governor-General declared that a human biosecurity emergency exists. This declaration gives the Minister for Health expansive powers to issue directions and set requirements in order to combat the outbreak. That FlagPost provides information on the mechanics of the declaration and the Minister’s powers. The FlagPost also provides an explanation of the first two determinations that w... Read more...

COVID-19 and parliamentary sittings (current as at 2 April 2020)

A number of Parliaments, both in Australia and overseas, have made schedule and practice changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Parliament last sat on 23 March 2020 and is scheduled to return on 11 August 2020, although it has been reported that the Parliament will sit on 8 April to consider further COVID-19-related legislation. Prior to 23 March the Parliament had been scheduled to sit from 23–26 March and then 12–14 May. Read more...

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