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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
4 September 2015
 
Economic growth figures released this week show the economy recorded its lowest growth rate in two years for the three months to June 2015. Treasurer Joe Hockey says Australia is not headed for a recession, despite a growth rate of only 0.2 per cent. See the Treasurer’s statement: Continued growth in the Australian economy 
 
On Tuesday, the Federal Government announced the proposed bank tax levy will not go ahead. The announcement comes not long after it was revealed that Treasurer Joe Hockey had agreed to apply the levy only to the four big banks – exempting small banks to appease disgruntled backbenchers. The policy was originally proposed by Labor in 2013, but wasn’t legislated. See media release: Dumping Labor’s Bank Deposit Tax
 
A Cabinet discussion of Small Business Minister Bruce Billson’s proposed amendments to Federal competition laws, which aim to crack down on the misuse of market power by big business, has been deferred due to reported division on the issue among ministers.
 
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced the ALP will not support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (chAFTA) because of concerns about labour provisions in the deal. The agreement has sparked divisions inside the Labor Party, with Shadow Trade Minister Penny Wong throwing her support behind the chAFTA and Labor Premiers Jay Weatherill, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Daniel Andrews publicly backing the deal.
 
Justice Dyson Heydon announced he will continue as head of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, despite pressure from unions and the Labor Party to step down over allegations of bias. The Opposition will move a Senate motion next week in an attempt to remove the Commissioner but the Federal Government says the motion would be of no legal consequence.
 
Former Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and former Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder announced their resignations from Parliament this week, with Dr Napthine seizing the opportunity to urge Premier Daniel Andrews to build the East West Link toll road. Both MPs’ seats are safely held by the Liberals; Dr Napthine’s son, Tom, is one of four candidates who will seek Liberal Party preselection for his father’s seat.
 
Adelaide City Councillor Robert Simms has been announced as successor to South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright who is leaving the Senate for personal reasons. Simms will face re-election at the 2016 Federal Election. Still on South Australia, Federal Liberal MP Dr Andrew Southcott has announced he will not recontest the seat of Boothby at the next election. Dr Southcott first won the seat in 1996.
 
The Federal, NSW, SA and WA parliaments sit next week. 


FINANCE

Federal Developments

 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the National Accounts figures showing that GDP grew 0.2 percent in the June quarter 2015. Treasurer Joe Hockey released a statement commending this growth due to its consistency with the 2015-16 Budget forecast, while commenting that Australia’s commodity prices have recently had their most significant fall in fifty years. See ABS media release: Australian economy grows 0.2 per cent

Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced the reappointment of four Business Members to the Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council and the delivery of $1 billion for transport infrastructure opportunities in Tasmania, by the Federal Government.  See media release: Reappointment of the Business Members to the Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council
 
State Developments 

The Victorian Government has welcomed the confirmation of Victoria’s triple A stable credit rating by international agency, Standard & Poor’s.  See media release: S&P Affirms Labor Government’s Strong Financial Management
 


RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments


Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, announced the opening of Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Mine. The project, valued at $767 million, is estimated to employ up to 450 people when operating at full capacity. See media release: New NSW coal mine contributing to regional community and national economy

State Developments

NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts announced the NSW Government has cancelled ERM Gas Pty Ltd’s Petroleum Exploration Licence, as part of a buy-back through the NSW Gas Plan. See media release: NSW Government announces 16th PEL buy-back
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has announced that tenders have opened for the Bruce Highway overtaking lanes at Careys Creek and Kitty Creek. Work is expected to be completed in mid-2016. See media release: Tenders called for overtaking lanes at Careys and Kitty creeks

 
State Developments

In NSW, Liberal Senator Marise Payne and NSW Minister for Roads Duncan Gay have released the preferred design for the New M5 this week. For a full outline of the design, see media release: New M5 Motorway-a step closer to busting congestion
 
The Victorian Parliament this week passed legislation to create Infrastructure Victoria, an independent body tasked with infrastructure planning, prioritisation and consultation for the state. See media release: Building Better Infrastructure for Jobs and Growth
 
Also in Victoria, the State Government has introduced an ‘alliance model’ to deliver road maintenance to regional Victoria over five years. The ‘alliance’, between VicRoads and Fulton Hogan, aims to bring a longer term approach for road improvements and maintenance across country Victoria. See media release: Safer, Better Roads for Regional Victoria

 


HEALTH

Federal Developments


Recent Federal Government figures reveal Medicare is now being billed over 1 million times per day. Furthermore, the data show that 21 million Australians accessed over 368 million individual services on the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) worth over $20 billion for the 2014-2015 financial year.  See media release: Medicare claims hit 1 million per day
 
New breakthrough melanoma drug Keytruda was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 September at a cost of $57 million. The treatment costs approximately $150,000 per year for each patient but will now be subsidised via the PBS.
 
The Federal and Tasmanian governments have signed a $148.5 million agreement to maintain funding of the Mersey Community Hospital in north-western Tasmania. See media release: New agreement for the Mersey Hospital
 
Not-for-profit health and aged care provider Calvary Health Care reached a confidential agreement with private insurer Medibank at the weekend, following drawn-out contract negotiations involving new quality thresholds the insurer was attempting to introduce that Calvary insisted were unreasonable and unrealistic. Health Minister Sussan Ley welcomed the resolution of the dispute, see her media release here

State Developments

The Victorian Government has released the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2015-2019 which outlines the Government’s health policy priorities over the next four years. See media release: New Plan for a Healthier Victoria
 

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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