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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
23 October 2015
 
Prime Minister Turnbull this week released the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry (FSI), accompanied by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer. In accepting the Inquiry’s recommendations, the Government also included six additional measures, in the areas of card surcharging, superannuation, innovation, financial advisers and regulators, life insurance and banks. See GRACosway’s summary from earlier in the week here, and the joint ministerial media release here.
 
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb this week announced that the Government had reached agreement with the Labor Opposition on the supportive legislation for the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). Labor has agreed to back the FTA on the assurance that Chinese firms seeking to employ workers on a 457 visa will have to comply with a number of restrictions. The move has been met with strong condemnation by the unions. See Minister Robb’s release here.  
 
On Friday afternoon, Tony Nutt was unanimously elected as the Federal Director of the Liberal Party. Nutt replaces Brian Loughnane, who announced his resignation in the wake of September’s leadership change. Nutt will finalise his commitments as the Director of the NSW Liberal Party before taking up his new position. See the Liberal Party’s release here.
 
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten outlined his Six Guiding Principles to Embrace the Sharing Economy, in which he calls for a ‘tailored, light-touch’ approach to regulation. Mr Shorten extended an invitation to work with the Government to advance the principles, saying Australia needed to strike the right balance between supporting innovation and protecting the community. See Mr Shorten’s release here.  
 
In concerning news for the Opposition, the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll suggests Labor’s primary vote has fallen to 30 per cent nationally, as voters return to the Coalition following Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as Prime Minister. The Coalition’s fortunes have reversed most stunningly in the Opposition Leader’s home state of Victoria, where the Government’s primary vote has risen by 11 points since the leadership change.
 
Former Treasurer Joe Hockey gave his valedictory speech in Parliament on Thursday, in front of family and supporters, including NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejilklian and former Defence Minister and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson.  The speech marked an end to his 19-year parliamentary career and comes ahead of his formal resignation as the Member for North Sydney, which will trigger a by-election for the seat at a date to be confirmed.
 
The NSW Government has release the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report Fit for the Future, on the future viability of the State’s local councils. The report concludes that nearly two-thirds of NSW councils are not financially ‘fit for the future’ and supports the Government’s agenda of council amalgamations. Councils now have 30 days to provide feedback before the Government will issue its response to the report. See the Premier’s media release here.
 
The NSW, Queensland, SA, WA, ACT, NT and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week. 


FINANCE
 
Federal Developments
 
Treasurer Scott Morrison has introduced legislation to restructure the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payment measures, with the savings to be directed to the Government’s $3.5 billion Jobs for Families package. The current proposal abandons a number of measures contained in the initial 2014-15 FTB bill that the Government has been unable to legislate, including limiting FTB-B to children under six years of age. See media release: Revised Family Tax Benefit measures to fund $3.5 billion child care investment
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

State Developments
 
In NSW, Rio Tinto’s application to extend the Mount Thorley open cut coal mine has been deemed ‘approvable’ by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). In making its decision, the PAC made six recommendations to minimise the impacts of increasing the mine’s working life by over 20 years, concluding the benefits outweighed the potential disadvantages.
 
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and Treasurer and Minister for Mines and Energy, Dave Tollner, this week met with Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Anthony Lynham, to discuss the North East Gas Interconnector. The NT Government is yet to determine if the pipeline, which will carry gas from the Northern Territory gas fields to eastern seaboard markets, will pass through Queensland or South Australia. See media release: Lynham targets TopEnd gas project for Qld
 
Western Australian Minister for Finance; Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion announced the ‘Guide to the Regulatory Framework for Shale and Tight Gas in Western Australia', a new nine-agency framework to govern gas industry development. See media release: Gas framework to build community confidence.
 
Western Australian Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett released the draft of the Planning and Development Legislation Amendment (Western Trade Coast Protection Area) Bill 2015. The bill provides certainty for land use planning around the Western Trade Coast industrial area. See media release: Protection for Perth's major industrial area
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss this week released the draft Western Sydney Airport Plan and draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Community consultation and submissions close on 18 December 2015. For both documents and submission options, see media release: Western Sydney’s draft Airport plan and draft EIS
 
The Federal Government also provided conditional environmental approval for the extension of the Roe Highway in Western Australia. For the list of conditions, see media release: Environmental approval for Roe 8

State Developments
 
Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced the Bays Precinct Transformation Plan, which will see the Sydney Fish Market, Rozelle Bay, White Bay Power Station and Pyrmont waterfront redeveloped. See media release: Making it happen in the Bays
 
Also in NSW, the Government has invited four air operators to submit a proposal to provide air services between Western NSW’s regional hubs; Dubbo, Bourke, and Walgett. The tender is expected to be awarded in mid-2016. See media release: Select tenders called to boost regional air services
 
The Victorian Government has this week started notifying residents and businesses whose properties the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority will acquire as part of the project. Acquisitions will not be undertaken before early 2017. See media release: Melbourne Metro Rail Project Property Acquisition
 
In South Australia, tenders opened for the upgrade of the first section of the main access road between Pukatja (Ernabella) and Umuwa in the State’s APY Lands. The $106.25 million project, expected to begin in early 2016, will be funded by the Australian Government ($85 million) and South Australian Government ($21.25 million). See media release: Tenders open for APY Lands main access road upgrade   
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
Health Minister Sussan Ley announced that the Federal Government will seek to amend laws to allow for the controlled cultivation of medicinal and scientific cannabis. The Government will also create a licensing scheme within the Department of Health to ensure cultivation meets international obligations. These new measures are aimed at providing patients with access to a safe and legal supply of medicinal cannabis. See media release:  Government support to allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes
 
Minister Ley and Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham announced $43 million for dementia research, to be shared among 76 researchers. This funding forms part of the Federal Government’s $200 million commitment to dementia research, and is in addition to the $35 million announced by Minister Ley in August this year. See media release:  $43 million to continue search for a cure to dementia
 
Minister Ley also this week introduced an amendment to the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth) to lower the Medicare Safety Net threshold from its current level of $638 to $400. The Government has begun consultations with the Opposition and the Greens and hopes the changes will come into effect in January 2016. See media release: Fairer, simpler Medicare Safety Net to help more patients
 
The Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash has unveiled an implementation plan for improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, which includes increasing the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 who have at least one health check a year from 23% to 69% by 2023. See media release: New goals to improve Indigenous health

State Developments
 
The Queensland Government announced plan to declare childcare centres, sporting events and bus stops off-limits to smokers. These laws are currently being drafted and are expected to be introduced into the Queensland Parliament in November. See media release: Next steps to smoke free Queensland


About GRACosway
GRACosway is Australia's leading public affairs and corporate and financial communications counsel. We provide a full suite of integrated services to a range of domestic and international clients across all industry sectors, including public policy, communications, regulatory, issues management and media relations advice. From offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth (GRA Everingham), GRACosway’s clients benefit from the combined experience, expertise and strategic perspective of our team of professionals in addressing complex and commercially sensitive projects. For more information, visit www.gracosway.com.au.
 
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