NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. (Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

While most Australians have been watching a movie called Contagion 2, our leaders have been pushing through changes to federal and state laws and regulations which in normal times might have caused them some political trouble.

So, just in case you missed it, here is our second short summary of what’s been going on while you’ve been in glorious isolation.

Pub demerits in NSW

Pubs and clubs in New South Wales may be forced to shut down for up to two week if they repeatedly breach new liquor laws, while “well-managed venues” will be given discounted licensing fees under a new demerit points system for the industry.

The Berejiklian government has introduced the changes following the repeal of Sydney’s lockout laws in January of this year. Given the unpopularity of the lockout laws, we imagine the reinstatement of harsh punishments wouldn’t sneak through in normal circumstances.

Legislation is to be put to parliament later this year.

Clean Energy Finance

The Morrison government yesterday “committed” $300 million to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) — instructing the CEFC to invest in new hydrogen energy projects, including those powered by fossil fuels.

Beyond the continued use of public money to support fossil fuels, the whole thing is a bit of shell game: the $300 million isn’t new money, it is using the CEFC’s existing fund, confirming a strategy that was announced in November last year.

Meanwhile Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has released a fairly scathing report on the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), arguing that while “ARENA’s grant program management is largely effective, its evaluation and performance reporting frameworks do not clearly demonstrate that its grant funding is increasing the supply and competitiveness of renewable energy in Australia beyond what would have otherwise have occurred”.

Penalty rates

It’s not just governments who will be hoping people’s shifted priorities will let some unpalatable but on-brand decisions pass without too much fuss.

The shoppies’ union and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have agreed with the Australian Industry Group to cut penalty rates for part-time workers in the famously well-remunerated food industry. Further, employees will not be permitted to “unreasonably” refuse to take annual leave to save jobs.

The primary beneficiaries are going to be McDonald’s and Domino’s. Poor old Macca’s employees, who only had a few months of full penalty rates after the enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) was torn up … due in part to inadequate penalty rates.


We can’t imagine the opaque tale of TerraCom — a mining company whose lobbying firm is linked to Labor figures, which bought a mine for just a dollar, and received tens of millions of dollars in refunds from its environmental bond after “an extraordinary set of concessions” from the Palaszczuk government — would pass with so little comment in less stressful times.

Conjola National Park

The Conjola National Park and surrounding areas was devastated by bushfires earlier this year, but miraculously, around 20 hectares near the small coastal village of Manyana remained unscathed. Unfortunately, this is owned by developer Ozy Homes, and was approved for development in 2008 by the NSW Government.

Again, proceeding with a housing development on the only surviving area of bushland around the Conjola National Park, would probably have been accepted with a lot less acquiesce under normal circumstances.