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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
17 July 2015
 
Climate change policy caused heartburn to yet another Labor leader this week following the leak of internal Party documents which forced Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to confirm he will take an emissions trading scheme to the next election. The scheme would link the carbon price to similar international schemes, resulting in a price of $8 to $10. The news was immediately seized upon by the Government who labelled it a ‘triple whammy carbon tax’. The leak has been interpreted by some within the press as an attempt to destabilise Bill Shorten’s leadership amid signs of internal division.
 
In vowing to fight the policy, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Government’s emission reduction targets would be ‘more ambitious’ than anticipated, amid speculation that the Government may set a reduction target of 15 to 25 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.  
 
Following revelations that Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop chartered a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser, the Opposition has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police alleging misuse of taxpayer-funded entitlements. Mrs Bishop has agreed to repay the return flight plus a $1300 penalty but denies any wrongdoing. See SMH article here (subscription service).
 
Meanwhile on policy matters, Treasurer Joe Hockey continued talking tax, outlining the Government’s reform agenda in a speech delivered at a PwC Tax Reform Forum in Melbourne this week. See the speech here
 
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced he will recommend to the Governor General the Hon Margaret Stone be appointed Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for five years from 24 August 2015. See media release here.
 
In the first budget of the new Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government, Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced a surplus close to $1 billion for the year 2014-15. The Budget contains a range of economic and social investments, including a $1.6 billion Working Queensland jobs plan and a $180 million Advance Queensland plan, as well as $500 million of new money for schools and hospitals. See GRACosways Budget Brief here.
 
A day after his 65th birthday, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has announced his intention to lead the Liberal Party at the next state election due in March 2017. Declaring 65 is the new 50, Mr Barnett made his intentions clear whilst confirming he would hand over the leadership during that term should the Government be re-elected.
 
The South Australian Parliament sits next week for Budget Estimates hearings.


FINANCE
 
Minister for Small Business Bruce Bilson has released an exposure draft for legislation to simplify the calculation method for work‑related car expense deductions. The changes, to apply from the 2015-16 financial year onward, are the first for 30 years and seek to limit acceptable methods of calculation to cents-per-kilometre and log book. See media release Release of draft legislation – simplifying the car expense deduction rules
 
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has published a study of the capital position of Australia’s major banks, following a recommendation of the Financial System Inquiry (FSI) that APRA set higher capital standards. The study found the banks should increase their capital adequacy ratios by at least 200 basis points to be considered in the top quartile of world banks. Read the study here and see media release APRA releases international capital comparison study.
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane announced the Network Transformation Roadmap, a joint project between the Energy Networks Association and CSIRO, which will map the future energy use of Australian households and businesses. The Roadmap will drive greater flexibility in the sector in order to improve the way energy is delivered. See media release Roadmap project tracks future electricity market

State Developments
 
The Queensland Government introduced the State Development and Public Works Organisation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015. The bill repeals section 47D of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 Act, which currently prevents communities appealing mine approvals to the Land Court following assessment from the Co-ordinator General. See media release: Government restores landholder, community rights on mining
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann announced the appointment of Dr Helen Nugent AO as the new Chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for a three year term. See media release Appointment of new Australian Rail Track Corporation Chair

State Developments

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs joined NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay to announce government-owned land at Arncliffe as the location for underground tunnelling to construct the new M5 in Sydney, part of Westconnex. Mr Briggs said Westconnex formed part of the Federal Government’s priority infrastructure projects. See media release: New M5 tunnelling location identified on government land at Arncliffe.
 
Transport for NSW Secretary, Tim Reardon has announced Clare Gardiner-Barnes as the first Deputy Secretary, Freight Strategy and Planning at Transport for NSW. The new role was established to streamline policy, planning and regulation at Transport for NSW. See media release: New Transport Deputy Secretary for Freight, Strategy and Planning.
 
In an embarrassing blunder for Transport for NSW (TfNSW), proposed changes to the city’s bus routes to accommodate the construction of the CBD light rail were inadvertently published on the department’s website on Thursday, some weeks ahead of schedule. The Minister for Transport Andrew Constance subsequently issued a number of statements confirming the changes, see media release: Preparing for tomorrow's Sydney: New CBD Bus Network to ease congestion
 
The Property Council has called on the Queensland Government to announce public infrastructure projects in the aftermath of the QLD budget, while Infrastructure Partnerships Australia said the State government needed to work out how to pay for new major infrastructure commitments in the future. See media release here: Queensland Budget – no new major projects means tough decisions deferred.
 

HEALTH
 
Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick welcomed a record $14.2 billion in health spending for 2015-16 announced in the Queensland Government’s latest Budget. Spending priorities include upgrading regional hospitals and employing more nurses. See media release Record investment to restore and expand health services.
 
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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