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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
9 October 2015
 
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb this week welcomed the conclusion of negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, saying it will lead to greater trade and investment opportunities for all Australians, while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described it as “a new era of economic growth and opportunity”. The TPP will require some legislative changes, with the Labor Opposition welcoming the conclusion of negotiations and calling for the text of the agreement to be made public. Trade within the member nations made up one third of Australia’s exports in 2014, and totalled more than $109 billion. The 12 member nations include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. See the Prime Minister's statement here.
 
In a speech to the Queensland Media Club, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unveiled Federal Labor’s $10 billion Infrastructure Plan that it will take to the next election. Dubbed the ‘concrete bank’, the policy would see Infrastructure Australia become an active participant in driving private sector investment in new projects. Shorten outlined key projects a future Labor government would commit to funding, including airport rail to the second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek. While Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss criticised the speech as ‘policy on the run’, Treasurer Scott Morrison said he was open to looking at the proposal. Read Mr Shorten’s speech in full here.
 
Former Newcastle lord mayor and developer Jeff McCloy has lost his High Court bid to overturn a NSW  law banning developers from making political donations. McCloy’s lawyers had argued the law was unconstitutional as it breached the implied freedom of communication. The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption still faces a second challenge before it can release its report into corruption in the State’s electoral system.
 
Liberal Party Federal Director Brian Loughnane announced his intention to retire from his position in the new year, and is rumoured to be replaced by NSW Liberal State Director Tony Nutt. Mr Loughnane is the husband of former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, and was under increasing pressure to step aside. Loughnane has been in the role since 2003.
 
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Government will legalise access to locally manufactured medicinal cannabis products, beginning with children with severe epilepsy from 2017. This follows the tabling of a Victorian Law Reform Report into medical cannabis. The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will issue licences to local producers in a trial phase. See media release here.
 
Federal, NSW, Queensland, SA, WA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week. 


FINANCE
 
Treasurer Scott Morrison has welcomed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Final Report on the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan, claiming the report endorses the Government’s actions and its multinational anti-avoidance laws. The Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015 is currently before the Parliament. OECD report supports Australian Government action on multinational tax avoidance
 
Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer, has released a consultation paper on national standards for egg labelling. The draft standard will consider; a definition of ‘free range’, mandatory disclosure of specific information to consumers and the creation of specifically-defined labelling categories.  See media release: Consultation paper released for national standard on egg labelling
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced federal funding to develop an interactive map of Australia’s electricity grid to help identify suitable investment opportunities for renewable energy. The maps are to be developed by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with public feedback invited ahead of release in May 2016. See media release: Government invests in maps of electricity grid to drive renewables investment
 
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced Wendy Craik AM as the new Chair of the Climate Change Authority, along with four new appointments; Stuart Allinson, Kate Carnell AM, Danny Price and the Hon John Sharp. See media release: Appointment of new Members to the Climate Change Authority

State Developments
 
The Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Amendment (Saving Energy, Growing Jobs) Bill 2015 was introduced into Parliament on Tuesday, and sets a state reduction target of 30 million tonnes over five years. See media release: Target Promotes Energy Efficiency & Victorian Jobs
 
NSW Minister for Environment, Minister for Heritage and Assistant Minister for Planning Mark Speakman launched the first town-scale energy blue print for the Northern Tablelands town of Uralla. The blueprint is the first step in an ambitious plan to make Uralla Australia’s first Zero Net Energy Town and proposes energy savings of up 70 percent to be achieved through efficiency and on-site generation. See media release: Blueprint Launched for Australia’s First Zero Net Energy Town
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss this week announced Rose Civil Victoria Pty Ltd as the successful construction tenderer for the Nepean Highway safety upgrades. See media release: Contract awarded for Nepean Highway upgrade
 
State Developments
 
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the inaugural board of Infrastructure Victoria, the state’s new independent infrastructure planning body, with Jim Miller appointed Chair and Maria Wilton as Deputy Chair. Infrastructure Victoria will be responsible for producing a 30 year plan detailing the State’s priorities, which will inform the Government’s 5 year infrastructure plan. See media release for full board: Inaugural Board Takes Helm At Infrastructure Victoria
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
The High Court ruled this week that Myriad Genetics could not hold patent over the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, which serve as genetic markers for breast and ovarian cancers. The ruling now allows for other companies to test for the genes and will likely lead to cheaper tests and more women being tested. The decision is in line with a 2013 US Supreme Court ruling, which found genetic mapping to be discoveries not inventions. See High Court Ruling here.
 
Minister for Health and Minister for Sport Sussan Ley announced the new 11 member GP Training Advisory Committee that will be jointly managed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. The new Committee will provide advice to the Government on GP training policy and delivery. Professor Stephen Trumble will serve as Chair. See media release here: GP Training Advisory Committee

State Developments
 
Queensland Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Cameron Dick launched the Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Action Plan 2015-17. The plan will deliver a more coordinated approach across government agencies in combating the incidence of mental illness and suicide in the State. See media release here: Palaszczuk Government unveils plan for early action on mental health
 
NSW Premier Mike Baird released the concept design for a new acute services building at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, part of a $900 million upgrade of the major Western Sydney facility. The building will house critical care services including operating theatres, inpatient beds and a new emergency department, bringing together services for children and adults.
 
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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