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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
6 February 2015
 
With speculation building all week that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership was on the line, WA MP Luke Simpkins this afternoon advised Chief Government Whip Philip Ruddock of a motion, seconded by WA MP Don Randall, to spill the leadership positions of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party at next Tuesday’s party room meeting.  Abbott later made a short statement, saying he will stand with Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop and urge the 102 member partyroom to defeat the motion, and therefore avoid a vote for the two leadership positions.
 
Earlier in the week Abbott addressed the National Press Club where he defended his record, and leadership - stressing that only the Australian people should ‘hire and fire’ Prime Ministers - and promised to be the most consultative and collegial Government in future.  Abbott also announced that his signature paid parental scheme was no longer government policy, that all future knighthoods would be the responsibility of the Council of the Order of Australia, and that the Government would unveil a families package this year focussed on childcare. He would also ensure a tax cut for small and medium businesses of at least 1.5% on July 1.
 
Counting continues in Queensland following last Saturday’s historic election with Labor slightly ahead but a result still to be determined. While Premier Campbell Newman lost his seat of Ashgrove to Labor’s Kate Jones, he will continue to lead a caretaker government until a result is clear.  Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk remains hopeful of forming government in her own right, however the votes of the crossbench could prove important.  So far Independent MP Peter Wellington has announced that he will support the Labor Party to form government, while the two Queensland Katter Party MPs have said that they will refrain from making a decision until the count is clearer.  Pre-poll and postal votes continue to be counted in a number of yet to be decided seats, and there is a possibility that a re-election could be triggered in the seat of Ferny Grove.
 
In South Australia, the Davenport by-election precipitated by the retirement of former Liberal leader Iain Evans has been one by Liberal Sam Duluk.
 
Also in SA, Premier Jay Weatherill announced a number of ministerial changes following Jennifer Rankine’s resignation as education minister.  Upper house MP Kyam Maher is the new Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation and Minister Susan Close will take on the education and child development portfolio.  For all the changes see the Premier’s media release here.
 
In a bizarre turn of events in the Northern Territory, Adam Giles is still the Chief Minister after Willem Westra van Holthe announced to a late-night media conference that he had won the support of his partyroom and was Chief Minister ‘designate’.  Giles refused to sign a resignation letter, and after 18 hours of uncertainty, remains Chief Minister with Westra van Holthe now his deputy.
 
In Victoria, former Nationals leader Peter Ryan is resigning from politics, a decision that will see a by-election take place in the seat of Gippsland South.
 
Federal, VIC, SA and ACT parliaments sit next week.


FINANCE

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that it would be lowering the cash rate by 25 basis points to 2.25%, effective 4 February 2015.  RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said that Australia continues to grow at a below-trend pace.  See the RBA’s media release here and Treasurer Joe Hockey’s media release welcoming the announcement here
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments

The Federal Government has announced $25 million in funding for a carbon capture and storage research project in Victoria.  See the media release: Industry and science cooperation to advance carbon storage technology
 
The Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council has established Energy Consumers Australia, a government body that will undertake research on energy markets and advocate on behalf of energy consumers.  The body will be chaired by Louise Sylvan.  For further information see the media release: COAG Energy Council gives consumers a stronger voice

State Developments
 
WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion has announced that prospecting and exploration activities with a relatively low environmental impact will be exempted from the mining fees usually applied to such projects.  See the media release: ‘Low impact’ works exempted from mining fees
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has approved Brisbane Airport's 2014 Master Plan.  The Master Plan proposes a number of infrastructure developments to align with predicted passenger growth and increased aircraft movements.  See media release: Brisbane Airport development takes off with Master Plan approved
 
State Developments

The SA Government has announced $252 million over four years to improve the state’s health infrastructure as part of its Transforming Health program.  Projects include funding hospital upgrades and the construction of a Post-Traumatic Stress treatment centre.  See the media release: A new centre to treat Post-Traumatic Stress among infrastructure boost
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments

The Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) Dr Suzanne Hill will step down as Chair of the PBAC after its March meeting.  Dr Hill will be taking up a role with the World Health Organization.  Health Minister Sussan Ley said the process to name her replacement has begun.  Minister Ley also announced 2 re-appointments, and 2 new appointments to the PBAC.  See the media release: Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee
 
The PBAC has released its 2015 calendar of deadlines for consumer comments on submissions to PBAC meetings.  For the March meeting, comments close 11 February.  See the website here
 
Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash has launched the new District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) map to better identify doctor shortages in rural, regional and remote communities.  See media release: New maps to better identify doctor shortages
 
Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison announced that the Stronger Relationships trial for couples counselling will cease from Monday 9 February.  The $17 million funding allocated to the trial will now be re-invested in frontline services under the Department of Social Services grants scheme.  See media release: Extra $17 million for frontline services

State Developments

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced $307 million to redevelop St George Hospital.  The works will include a new acute services building.  See media release: $307 million to redevelop St George Hospital
 
The NSW Government launched three new forensic laboratories at NSW Health Pathology’s Forensic and Analytical Science Services (FASS).  The $5 million investment aims to assist in the solving of crimes.  See media release: New $5 Million Forensic Lab
 
About GRACosway
GRACosway is Australia's leading public affairs and corporate and financial communications counsel. Our integrated suite of services provides public policy, communications, regulatory, issues management, and media relations advice to a range of domestic and international clients across all industry sectors. From offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, and Perth (through GRA Everingham), GRACosway's clients benefit from the combined experience, expertise, and strategic perspective of our team in addressing complex and commercially sensitive projects. For more information head to gracosway.com.au
 
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