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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
7 August 2015
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in Adelaide this week with his Cabinet as part of efforts to restore South Australia’s confidence in the Coalition amidst declining polls. On Tuesday PM Abbott announced an $89 billion plan to establish a permanent naval shipbuilding industry in Australia. The plan will see the Navy’s Future Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels built domestically and brings forward construction of the Frigates by three years. Mr Abbott said 2500 jobs would be created or saved as a result of the announcement. See the Prime Minister’s release here.
Mr Abbott has also this week rescinded a ban on Government MPs appearing on ABC’s Q&A program. The decision follows the ABC Board’s announcement the program will be moved from the entertainment to the news division, subjecting it to more rigorous guidelines for fairness and balance.
Following the resignation of Speaker Bronwyn Bishop on Sunday, a Melbourne Cup field of candidates is assembling to contest  the Speaker’s Chair. Victorian Liberal Tony Smith is said to be the front runner to fill the vacancy, when Parliament resumes next week. Others likely to contest the  role include South Australian Liberal Andrew Southcott, Queensland MP Ross Vasta and father of the House Philip Ruddock. The candidate will be determined at a 9am Coalition meeting on Monday and formally approved by the House of Representatives shortly after.
As the expenses controversy continues, the Leader of Opposition Business Tony Burke has now found himself the subject of media attention over his claims, having successfully prosecuted the case against Mrs Bishop. While the issue is seen as a pox on both houses, the Prime Minister has called for a truce on the issue which he hopes to address through a  review of parliamentary entitlements.
The Federal Court has overturned federal government environmental approval of the proposed Carmichael coal mine and rail project due to inadequate provisions for the protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake- two vulnerable species in Queensland. Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will now be asked to reconsider certain aspects of the proposal, with a revised decision expected within six to eight weeks. See departmental statement: Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project
The Baird Government announced a $1 billion reform package to the State’s workers’ compensation scheme, WorkCover. The package includes three main elements; a simplified system, enhanced benefits for injured workers and reduced premiums for responsible businesses. WorkCover will be split into three separate agencies to remove the perceived conflict of interest of being both the safety regulator and insurer.  See press release here.
Federal, NSW, WA and ACT parliaments sit next week.

In a speech to the Financial Services Council on Friday, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg outlined the Government’s priorities for financial service reforms. Mr Frydenberg highlighted the importance of the financial services industry, which contributes eight per cent to Australia’s GDP, and announced the Government is considering the tax arrangements for collective investment vehicles. Read his speech here.
Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has secured in principle support from the Australian Greens for his proposed changes to section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act. Earlier in the week, Cabinet gave approval to Mr Billson to advance plans to introduce an ‘effects test’ which seeks to further restrict anti-competitive and predatory behaviour of big business. Read more here: Bruce Billson gets Greens backing for tougher competition law (subscription service).
Minister Billson and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, are seeking stakeholder feedback to shape the regulation of Australia's $9.23 billion horticulture sector.  An issues paper has been released which will give stakeholders the opportunity to have a say on a range of issues affecting the trade in Australian horticulture produce.  See media release: Have your say on the Horticulture Code of Conduct


Federal Developments
Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced $260 million of Commonwealth and NSW Government funding to assist farm irrigators in the southern Murray-Darling Basin modernise on-farm irrigation systems to improve water efficiency. Water savings will be returned to the local environment. See media release: $263.5 million boost for on-farm irrigation in NSW
State Developments
South Australian Minister for Climate Change Ian Hunter announced the $250 million Hornsdale Wind Farm project, which will generate a maximum 315 megawatts of power once fully operational. The windfarm will create 250 jobs during the construction phase and 10 ongoing jobs following completion. See media release: State’s latest wind farm project continues clean jobs growth


Federal Developments
Major works have begun on the $896 million upgrade of the Torrens Road to River Torrens section of the North-South Corridor, South Australia. The project, due for completion in 2018, forms part of the $1.5 billion joint commitment from the Federal and South Australian governments to improve the Corridor. See media release: Major construction begins on Torrens to Torrens project
State Developments
In NSW, planning is continuing for the construction of the New England Highway bypass and a town centre road-over-rail bridge at Scone,  jointly funded by the NSW and Federal governments. Construction is expected to start in 2016. See media release: $90 million Scone bypass and rail bridge plans progressing
Still in NSW, Minister for Transport Andrew Constance has announced that a majority of old paper-style public transport tickets will be phased out on January 1, 2016 – leaving Opal as the key option for commuters. More information via media release: Time to tap into Opal - majority of paper tickets to be phased out
The Victorian Andrews Government has abandoned its proposed 750 per cent rent increase for DP World Australia at the Port of Melbourne, Australia’s largest port. The deal clears the way for the Government to proceed with its planned long term leasing of the Port, which is expected to raise up to $7 billion. Read more here: DP World wins rent hike fight in privatisation push (AFR subscription service).
The Andrews Government has also announced the establishment of a $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund, following the successful passage of legislation for the Port of Melbourne lease. The Bill was this week referred to committee for further scrutiny. See media release: $200m Fund to Support Freight from Geelong to Port
Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne released the latest Victoria in Future report, which outlines the importance of building affordable housing close to jobs, transport and services to accommodate the state’s projected population of 10 million by 2051. See media release: Building our communities for 10 million people.
The Queensland Palaszczuk Government has open the expression of interest process for Stage Two of Gold Coast Light Rail, between Helensvale and Gold Coast University Hospital. The project is expected to be completed by 2018, in time for the Commonwealth Games. See media release: Palaszczuk Government takes next step towards federal funding bid for Gold Coast Light Rail stage two


Federal Developments
The Federal Government released an options paper for reforming primary healthcare. The Government is encouraging feedback to the paper with the Primary Health Care Advisory Group developing specific recommendations by the end of the year. See the media release and options paper here and the Australian Medical Association’s response here.
Minister for Trade Andrew Robb said the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are progressing despite disagreements over investor-state dispute settlement rules for decisions concerning health and pharmaceutical products and the US’s demands for an increase in the patent protection period on medicines See the Minister for Trade’s media release here and an editorial from The Age here.
The Minister for Health Sussan Ley has indicated that the Federal Government is willing to consider reforms to the private health insurance sector due to concerns about the rising cost of premiums. See the Australian article (subscription required): Insurance reforms next for Ley

Heath Ministers from the Federal, State and Territory governments, descended on Darwin on Friday for the Australian Health Ministers Conference. On Thursday, Federal Minister Sussan Ley observed specialist surgical team training underway at Darwin’s National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, for 30 clinicians to prepare them for deployment into a disaster zone. See Media Release: Delivering AusMAT surgical training

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