Filter by COVID-19

COVID-19 Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration—Omicron Response Measures

On 26 November 2021 the World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) advised the WHO that a SARS-Cov-2 variant, first detected on 9 November 2021 in South Africa, should be designated as a ‘Variant of Concern’ (VOC) named Omicron. Read more...

Intellectual property agreements and COVID-19– proposals to ensure access to treatments

As developing countries struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines and contend with catastrophic second and third waves of infection, the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains at an impasse in approving a waiver over intellectual property rights for COVID‑19 vaccines. While countries such as South Africa and India argue the waiver would have a profound impact on their ability to produce vaccines domestically, other countries such as Australia have questioned whether such a waiver would be effective in delivering greater numbers of vaccines. With substantial differences in the positions of the parties, it seems that despite discussions on the waiver continuing in Geneva, agreement may prove elusiv... Read more...

Paid Parental Leave Amendment (COVID-19 Work Test) Bill 2021

The Paid Parental Leave Amendment (COVID-19 Work Test) Bill 2021 (the Bill) proposes amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (the PPL Act) toallow time in receipt of the COVID-19 Disaster Payment to count as work for the purpose of the Paid Parental Leave scheme. The Paid Parental Leave scheme includes both Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.   Read more...

In 1913 the Commonwealth quarantined Sydney for 145 days

Commonwealth quarantine legislation, from the original form of the Quarantine Act 1908 through to the current Biosecurity Act 2015, has always included provisions for the Commonwealth to declare movement restrictions, quarantines and other emergency measures.  Read more...

Higher Education Support Amendment (Extending the Student Loan Fee Exemption) Bill 2021

On 13 May 2021, the Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, introduced the Higher Education Support Amendment (Extending the Student Loan Fee Exemption) Bill 2021 (the Bill) to the House of Representatives.  The purpose of the Bill is to extend the FEE-HELP loan fee exemption, which is currently in place until 30 June 2021, to 31 December 2021. The loan fee exemption was initially introduced as part of the Higher Education Relief Package in response to COVID-19.   Read more...

COVID-19 Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration—India Travel Pause

On 30 April 2021, India had reported more than 300,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day for a week. After a risk assessment, the Government decided to implement a temporary pause on travellers from India entering Australian territory by air if the passenger had been in India within 14 days of the person’s intended arrival date in Australia.  Read more...

Mapping Social Cohesion 2020: are we 'all in this together'?

The 2020 edition of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion report was released on 4 February 2021. In a year when so much seemed to change, the report found that Australia’s stability and resilience largely held firm. However, there are some surprises in what is different and what has stayed the same. Read more...

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...

Will Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt be reduced because CPI has fallen?

On 29 July, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 1.9 per cent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest fall in its 72-year history.  For people with an outstanding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or similar student loan debt, indexed using CPI, this raises questions about whether the debt will be reduced in line with the CPI reduction. While there is no immediate effect from the June 2020 quarter fall, the indexation arrangements for outstanding HELP debts, which are intended to maintain the real value of the debt, could result in reduced loan balances in June 2021, depending on CPI movements over the next three quarters. I... Read more...

Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020

On 11 June 2020 the Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, introduced the Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020 (the Bill) to the House of Representatives.  The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to a six‑month exemption from FEE‑HELP loan fees announced on 12 April 2020 as part of the Higher Education Relief Package (the relief package) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other elements of the relief package do not require legislation. A loan fee exemption for VET Student Loans (VSL) was also included, but has already been given effect by the VET Student Loans Amendment Rules (No. 1) 2020, made under the VET Student Loans Act 2016 (VSL Act)... Read more...

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