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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
28 November 2014
 
Despite Prime Minister Abbott’s determination to deal with some “barnacles” impeding the Government’s run to Christmas, the Coalition found itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in this penultimate parliamentary sitting week for the year.  By week’s end, the future of the proposed GP co-payment was uncertain at best, with numerous media reports advising of its demise but neither the PM, Health Minister Peter Dutton or other Cabinet members prepared to confirm it had been axed.
 
In other scenes, Senator Jacqui Lambie resigned from the Palmer United Party on Monday and will now sit as an Independent, while on Wednesday, Defence Minister David Johnston was censured in the Senate for his remark that the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) couldn’t be trusted ‘to build a canoe’.  On Thursday, a record breaking 18 ALP members were ejected from question time in the House of Representatives.  Both houses of Parliament will sit for the final time next week, where the Government remains committed to progressing its higher education reforms through the Senate.
 
Prime Minister Tony Abbott addressed the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual dinner.  Read the speech here.
 
Meanwhile, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott briefed ABC staff on Monday on a number of job cuts, program changes and other reductions in response to the Government’s budget cut to the broadcaster announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week.
 
Labor Senator and former Minister for Sport Kate Lundy has announced that she will retire at the next election.
 
Stephen Sedgwick will finish as the Australian Public Service Commissioner in December.  His replacement will be announced shortly.
 
Transcripts for the Senate estimates hearings into the communications portfolio have now been published, see here.
 
Victorians head to the polls tomorrow for the 2014 State Election, with the polls pointing to a win for Labor leader Daniel Andrews and his team.  For analysis and all the announcements from the final week see GRACosway’s latest election newsletter here.
 
Federal, SA, WA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.


FINANCE

Labor and the Coalition have agreed to a revised regulation to progress broadly supported elements of the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms, including amending grandfathering provisions to enable advisers to move licensees with their clients whilst continuing to receive grandfathered remuneration.  See media release: Agreement reached to re-instate broadly supported elements of FOFA reforms
 
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics released its report on foreign investment in residential real estate, which makes 12 recommendations and finds issues with the Treasury and Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) processes for monitoring.  See media release: Report Tabling: Foreign Investment in Residential Real Estate and the inquiry homepage
 
Financial System Inquiry (FSI) Chair David Murray has delayed his speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) until 8 December.  It is expected that the final FSI report will be released at or around this time.  See media release: Change of date – upcoming speech – 8 December 2014
 
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its response to the Draft Report of the Competition Policy Review, which notes that the ACCC supports most of the Review Panel’s priority areas for reform to competition policy.  See the media release here and the submission here.
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released draft revenue determinations for NSW, ACT and Tasmanian electricity businesses, the first time under new national electricity and gas rules.  If replicated in the final determination, the ruling would see NSW power bills fall by up to 10 per cent.  See the AER media release: AER issues draft decisions on revenues for ACT and NSW energy businesses, the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy media release: Electricity prices set to fall further and the AFR: Regulator slashes NSW power prices by 10pc (subscription service)

State Developments
 
The WA Parliament has passed legislation which expands WA maritime boundaries, lifting the Government’s potential royalty share of the Browse Basin gas field.  See media release: Major boost for WA share of Browse gas fields
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
The Federal Government has announced the three shortlisted consortia eligible to tender for the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina.  The successful consortia – Pacific Complete (CH2M Hill, Laing O’Rourke, and Parsons Brinkerhoff), the Jacobs Group and Fulton Hogan joint venture, or the PacWay Delivery Partner joint venture (Advisian, Aurecon, Mace and Seymour White) – will be announced in early 2015.  See media release: Industry partners step closer to Woolgoolga to Ballina

State Developments

NSW Premier Mike Baird launched the NSW State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014 this week, which sees 30 investment recommendations from Infrastructure NSW valued at over $18 billion.  Unveiling more details of the ‘Rebuilding NSW’ plan in the lead up to the March 2015 state election, the Premier promised $8.9 billion for public transport projects, including a new rail crossing of Sydney Harbour and upgrades to western Sydney rail infrastructure.  See the report here and the Premier’s media release: Rebuilding NSW to turbocharge growth, boost jobs
 
The NSW Government has issued tenders for the construction of six new ferries, to be delivered by 2016.  See the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH): New Sydney ferries set to sail from 2016
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments

Deputy Secretary David Learmonth will leave the Department of Health to lead the aged care division at the Department of Human Services.  See PharmaDispatch: Change at the Department of Health (subscription service)
 
A cross-party bill to establish a new regulator responsible for licensing the growing, manufacturing and distribution of medicinal cannabis was introduced to the Senate this week.  See the bill homepage here

State Developments

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has announced $5.5 million in grant funding for researchers working on innovative approaches to treating cancer.  See media release: $5.5 million for the future of cancer research
 
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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