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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
25 September 2015
 
As the dust settled following last week’s leadership change, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new Ministry was sworn in on Monday (read GRACosway’s summary of the first Turnbull ministry here). The new cabinet saw a number of Turnbull supporters elevated to Cabinet, including three women; Senator Marise Payne (Defence Minister), Senator Michaelia Cash (Minister for Employment and Women), and Kelly O’Dwyer (Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer) join Julie Bishop (Foreign Minister) and Sussan Ley (Health Minister ). Turnbull has described his ministry as one for the future, whose focus will be on innovation and agility.
 
The new Ministry has been out in force this week, with ministers making numerous media appearances. The Prime Minister kept a busy schedule, appearing on Sunrise, Today, ABC radio and 7.30 as well as Sky News. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann fronted a long press conference where they outlined the Government’s commitment to tax reform and to the ongoing Tax White Paper process. Meanwhile the Treasurer made clear that his budget priorities lie in cutting spending, not revenue measures, telling 7.30’s Leigh Sales, that he would encourage people to “work, save and invest.”
 
Prime Minister Turnbull announced changes to a number of departmental names and responsibilities following the reshuffle, with Water Resources added to the Department of Agriculture, Innovation added to Industry and Science and Arts brought under the Department of Communications. Administrative changes will see the new Department of Communications and Arts taking over responsibility for copyright, and the Department of Education resuming responsibility for  childcare. See changes to administrative orders here, and the renamed departments here.
 
In his first major policy announcement since becoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday joined Australian of the Year Rosie Batty to announce a $100 million package to address domestic violence.  The package includes the use of innovative technologies to keep women safe, and education resources to change community attitudes to violence and abuse.
 
The by-election for the West Australian seat of Canning was held last weekend, with Liberal Candidate Andrew Hastie winning the seat, despite a seven per cent swing against the Liberal Party. 
 
In the first Newspoll of Turnbull’s leadership, the Coalition has seen a dramatic increase in its primary vote and now leads Labor in the two-party-preferred vote 51 points to 49. Some 55 per cent  of respondents rated Turnbull as preferred prime minister, while support for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten fell to 21 per cent (down from 41 per cent the week prior to the leadership change).
 
No parliaments are sitting next week.
 


FINANCE
 
The Prime Minister has contradicted media reports that work has been suspended on the Tax White Paper, saying tax reform will be front and centre. Treasurer Morrison declared that everything will be considered in renewed tax discussion, including superannuation, capital gains tax and negative gearing, however has all but ruled out increasing the Medicare levy. Read SMH article (subscription): Malcolm Turnbull halts tax white paper process in major 'reset' and AFR report (subscription) Treasurer Scott Morrison wants to unlock retirees' home wealth.
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia appointed Michele Bullock to the position of Assistant Governor (Business Services). Ms Bullock has been the Assistant Governor (Currency) since December 2010, and will take up this new position in early December 2015.  See media release: Appointment: Assistant Governor (Business Services).
 


RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments

Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced $2.5 million has been made available to improve the water quality in the Burdekin natural resource management region. Following a call for Expressions of Interest, a reverse auction will take place to reward funds to sugar cane farmers proposing the best value for money projects. See media release: $2.5m for cane farmers in the Burdekin to reduce runoff.

State Developments
 
Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch announced new technology is being developed at the University of Queensland for a more water efficient energy generation. The hybrid cooling tower technology reduces the amount of water used in thermal power generation, which is a significant problem in arid and drought-affected regions. See media release: World-first to reduce energy costs in drought zones.
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss this week announced that AECOM Australia Pty Ltd has been selected to carry out design works for the $174 million Bruce Highway upgrade to Cattle and Frances Creeks crossings, north of Townsville. See media release: AECOM to design Cattle and Frances Creeks upgrade.
 
The Federal Government invited tenders for the next stage of works on the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade. See media release: Soft soil works ramp up on Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade.
 
State Developments

Tony Shepherd announced he will step aside as Chairman of Sydney Motorway Corporation, owners of the $15.4 billion WestConnex motorway, as the project moves from the planning to the construction phase. Mr Shepherd will be replaced by Peter Brecht, a former chief executive of construction firm Bilfinger Berger Australia and managing director of Lend Lease.
 
The Melbourne Metro Rail Project took a step forward this week, with the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority writing to residents whose properties may be impacted by the new rail development. It is estimated that approximately 200 houses will be compulsorily acquired for the project. The move indicates the Andrews Government’s intentions to press ahead with its ambitious time frame, despite the $12million project not being fully funded.
 
In Queensland, design work on the $1.162 billion Gateway Upgrade North has reached its final stages under an interactive tender process, with major construction due to begin later next year. See media release: Design progressing on Gateway Upgrade North project.
 


HEALTH

Federal Developments

Fiona Nash has been appointed the Minister for Rural Health, in the first Turnbull Ministry, and Ken Wyatt promoted to Assistant Minister for Health, while Sussan Ley retains the portfolios of Health and Sport.
 
Health Minister Sussan Ley defended the Government’s record on listing new medicines on the  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), following the release of a PwC survey of the medicines industry which found significant dissatisfaction with the listing process.  See PwC media release: Regulatory headaches continue for Australian Pharma Industry and Minister’s statement:  Facts speak for themselves on drug listings.

State Developments

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the signing of an agreement between Victoria and the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu and Sichuan, on health and medical research. The agreement allows for joint ventures in bio-medical research and greater access for Victorians to participate in the aged care, primary and community health sectors. See media release: Exporting Our Medical Expertise and Research to China.

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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