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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
14 August 2015
 
Federal Parliament resumed on Monday after the six week winter recess. It was a disappointing start for Prime Minister Tony Abbott with the release of the latest Newspoll showing primary support for the Coalition has slipped to 39 per cent. The Labor Party now leads the Government by 54 to 46 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
 
The first act of business for the Parliament was the election of a new Speaker with Victorian Liberal MP Tony Smith duly elected after winning the Liberal nomination 51-22 over Russell Broadbent in an internal party ballot.  Mr Smith declared that he would not attend Party Room meetings as a matter of course, but would continue to vote in significant matters such as leadership ballots.   
 
Same sex marriage dominated the week, with the Prime Minister calling a surprise joint party room meeting to debate the issue of a conscience vote. The Coalition reportedly voted against such a move 66 to 33, with Mr Abbott indicating his support for a plebiscite on the issue following the next election. The decision to hold a joint party room meeting angered many within the Liberal Party and induced Education Minister Christopher Pyne, also leader of government tactics, to accuse the Prime Minister of branch stacking. Three members of the Liberal Party have since indicated their intention to cross the floor should a same sex marriage bill be successful in reaching a vote pre-election.
 
Meanwhile, the Opposition called on the Government to replace the Chair of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption, Dyson Heydon, amid allegations of bias after it was revealed he had agreed to address the Sir Garfield Barwick memorial lecture, a NSW Liberal Party fundraising event. The NSW Liberal Party has sought to clarify the event is not a fundraiser, despite invitations to the function including donation forms.  Mr Heydon has since withdrawn from the event.
 
In a boost to primary industry, Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce welcomed the Chinese Government’s ratification of the Australian feeder and slaughter cattle import health protocol. It is hoped that the deal will see 40,000 head of cattle exported to China in the coming year, growing to more than 1 million per annum over the decade. See media release Joyce welcomes ratification of historic China live export deal.
 
Separately, Minister Joyce welcomed Indonesia’s decision to double Australian cattle import permits to 100,000 for the period July to September, having initially cut the quota by 80 per cent from the previous quarter. Read more on the ABC Online here
 
In NSW, Premier Mike Baird announced his government will adopt all recommendations made by the panel examining the powers of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Mr Baird ordered the review following a High Court ruling in April which cast doubt on the extent of the ICAC’s jurisdiction. The legislation, when tabled, will extend ICAC’s reach to include non-public officials but will limit the authority to making findings only on matters of ‘serious’ corrupt conduct.
The Opposition Leader Luke Foley has said Labor supports the recommendations. See the Premier’s media release here.
 
Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula announced the appointment of Jane Dixon QC to the State’s Supreme Court, replacing the Honourable Justice Betty King, who retired after 15 years of service to the Court. See the Attorney-General’s media release here.
 
Federal, Victorian, Queensland, WA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.


FINANCE

Federal Developments
 
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has announced the appointment of Adrian Dolin as General Manager Corporate Services and Company Secretary to the ICA, following the retirement of Mr Brian Francis.  See media release: Insurance Council of Australia
 
State Developments
 
Labor state and Territory Treasurers from Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and the ACT confirmed they will seek to exempt sanitary products from the GST, when they meet at next week’s Council of Federal Financial Relations in Canberra. The issue was first raised with federal Treasurer Joe Hockey in May during an episode of ABC’s Q&A. See media release Labor Treasurers Back Removal of GST From Sanitary Products
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
The Prime Minister, in a joint statement with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and the Environment announced Australia will commit to an emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This will represent a decline of at least 50 per cent on a per capita basis, or 64 per cent per unit of GDP. See media release: Australia’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Target.
 
State Developments
 
NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott and Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman announced the Government will accept all 30 recommendations to strengthen the 10/50 scheme, which allows residents in bushfire-prone areas to clear trees within 10m and vegetation within 50m of their property without approval. See media release: Improved 10/50 Scheme Offers Greater Environmental Protection
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Treasurer Joe Hockey this week hosted the second annual Australia‑China Strategic Economic Dialogue with Chairman Xu Shaoshi of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. In particular, infrastructure projects in areas such as northern Australia were discussed as future opportunities, and China agreed to take part in the Northern Australia Investment Forum later this year. See media release: Australia-China Strategic Economic Dialogue promotes investment in regional infrastructure
 
The Federal Government announced the reappointment of Dr Kerry Schott AO as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) for a further three years. See media release: Moorebank Intermodal Company Chair reappointed
 
New appointments were this week also made to the Board of Airservices Australia. For more information, see media release: Appointments to the Board of Airservices Australia
 
State Developments
 
In NSW, a tender has been released for a technical advisor for Newcastle Light Rail. Further consultation and the release of planning documents for Newcastle Light Rail are expected in late 2015. See media release: Tender released for light rail technical advisor
 
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the creation of the Geelong Authority, tasked with continuing with major planning decisions and creating jobs and growth in Geelong. The Authority will be chaired by Peter Dorling, Business Manager at Avalon Airport. See media release: Geelong Authority To Get Projects, Jobs And Growth Moving
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
The Federal Government has passed legislation establishing the Medical Research Future Fund, which will be overseen by an independent expert advisory board and will allocate funding for future medical research. See media release: Medical Research Future Fund Bill Passes
 
State Developments
 
Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has released a Discussion Paper on the development of a Victorian Health and Medical Research Strategy, which intends to encourage practical research outcomes in Victorian medical research. Submissions are open until 31 August 2015. See media release: Strategy To Drive Victoria’s Health and Medical Research and see the discussion paper here
 
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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