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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
2 October 2015
 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his economic ministry team met with 12 industry and union representatives in Canberra on Thursday at the reconvened Economic Leaders’ Summit. The three hour summit was described as a listening exercise for the new Ministry to provide input into the Government’s reform agenda. There was support for a review of  superannuation and capital gains tax concessions as part of the Government’s ongoing tax white paper.
 
Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley has been given the additional portfolio responsibility of Aged Care. Minister Ley said her  policy priorities will be to ensure that older Australians can live in their homes for as long as possible and that aged health care resources are directed in the most efficient possible manner. Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt will take on the additional role of Minister Assisting the Minister for Aged Care. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge has also been sworn in as Assistant Minister for Social Services and will likely take responsibility for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). See media release here and current Ministry list here.
 
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham confirmed the Government will abandon the controversial tertiary education reforms proposed by his predecessor Christopher Pyne, which would have allowed universities to set their own fee structures from 2016 and reduced funding per student. Minister Birmingham said the Government had conceded  the reforms would not pass the Senate in their current form, but that the Government remained committed improving the current funding system.
 
Minister for Communication Senator Mitch Fifield this week described Australia’s media laws as “horse-and-buggy legislation in the 21st century", and hinted the Government may examine ownership laws that currently limit further industry consolidation. He said he will seek ‘broad consensus’ from industry, rather than "unanimity", for media law reforms. Also under consideration will be the number of sporting matches reserved for free-to-air television.
 
NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance announced a $200 million upgrade for Sydney’s Circular Quay wharves and the abolition of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA), whose responsibilities will be consolidated into other government agencies. The works will be funded from the divestment of SHFA assets, which include a number of hotel and commercial office buildings in city. See media release here.
 
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the Territory will become the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce regulations that will allow  ridesharing services to operate legally from 30 October 2015. The 2015 Taxi Industry Innovation Reforms will be introduced in two steps, and will apply minimum safety standards for all ridesharing vehicles and reductions in taxi licence fees. The Government has, so far, not announced any form of compensation for the more than 200 ACT taxi plate owners. See a summary and timeline of the reforms here


FINANCE
 
The exposure draft of the Superannuation Laws Amendment (Unclaimed Superannuation Money) Regulation 2015 has been released. The legislation will allow Eligible Rollover Funds (those which temporarily hold superannuation) to proactively consolidate accounts and transfer funds into members’ active superannuation account without their consent. See Changes to help consumers keep track of and retain lost billions in super.
 
A report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that building approvals fell by 0.7% in August, continuing a five-month long trend of decreasing numbers of approvals. Tasmania, Victoria, WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland all experienced decreases, while building approvals increased in the ACT, SA and NSW.  See Dwelling approvals fall in August
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, and the NSW Minister for Roads Duncan Gay announced the approval of the strategic assessment of small scale road and traffic works. NSW Roads and Maritime Service can now make road improvements without waiting for approval from the Federal Government. See media release: Removing duplication in NSW roads regulation
 
Australian Greens Leader Richard Di Natale and Resources Spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters released a proposal to deal with rehabilitation of decommissioned coal mines. Under the proposal, miners would be required to set aside an allocation of funds for future rehabilitation works during the working lifetime of the mine. See media release: Greens announce transition plan for Australia’s coal export sector

State Developments
 
NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts announced the closure of the Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) buy-back scheme. The NSW Government redeemed and cancelled 16 PELs throughout the scheme under Action 4 of the NSW Gas Plan. See media release: NSW Gas Plan PEL Buy-Back Scheme
 
Minister Roberts also announced the NSW Government is investigating deregulating retail gas prices from 1 July 2017. The announcement was made in a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) on enabling the sustainable development of NSW energy reserves. See media release: Driving Competition and Transparency Across the Resources and Energy Sectors

Western Australia Premier and Minister for State Development and Science Colin Barnett announced a trial of State-wide policy for a local government rating of land effected by mining, petroleum and resource interests is now permanent. This policy also applies to land that is not within a tenement but primarily used for resource-related activities. See media release: Resource rating policy to continue
 
Western Australia Treasurer and Energy Minister Mike Nahan announced responsibility for the management and operation of the wholesale electricity market in Western Australia has been transferred to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Other functions that will be transferred to AEMO include administration of the Gas Bulletin Board and Gas Statement of Opportunities. See media release: AEMO undertakes role of energy market operator and power system operator in Western Australia
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
The Beef Roads Roundtable was held in Rockhampton on Friday, which brings together stakeholders in the beef industry to help identify priorities for the $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said better infrastructure was vital to maintaining the competitiveness of the Australian beef industry. See media release: Beef Roads roundtable kicks off in Rockhampton

State Developments
 
The design contract for the upgrade of the Weakleys Drive and John Renshaw Drive intersection at Beresfield, in NSW, has been awarded to Aurecon Australia, as part of the State and Federal Governments jointly funded $392 million M1 Productivity Package. See media release: Aurecon to design Beresfield intersection upgrade
 
Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville this week announced the new membership of Victoria’s water corporation boards. For full make-up of the new boards, see media release: New Look Boards To Help Victoria Meet Future Water Challenges
 
Expressions of interests have opened for the upgrade of the M80 Ring Road between Sunshine Avenue and Calder Freeway in Victoria. Both the Victorian and Federal governments will contribute $150 million to the upgrade, with the project to start mid-2016. See media release: Expressions of Interest open on M80 upgrade
 
Acting Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Mark Bailey announced water reforms to protect the Great Barrier Reef and landholders’ water supply. The reforms will cover the full mining sector with the requirements for companies to ‘make good’ any impact on groundwater resources. The requirements currently apply to petroleum and gas mining industries only. See media release: Water reforms will protect Reef, farms
 
Applications to carry out major works on Section C of the Bruce Highway upgrade in Queensland have opened this week to prequalified companies, who have until 19 October to lodge their interest. The project is due to start in 2016. See media release: Call for tenders for fast-tracked Bruce Highway upgrade  
 
The South Australian Resources Infrastructure Taskforce has identified three multi-user ports suitable for the State’s needs instead of a single port in the Spencer Gulf as previously planned – Arrium’s Port of Whyalla, Cape Hardy on the Eyre Peninsula and Myponie Point south of Port Pirie. For full details of the proposal, see media release: Resource Infrastructure Taskforce identifies three potential multi-user ports
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
The Department of Health has released two papers from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce consultation. Submissions in response to the consultation papers are due by  9 November 2015. See consultation papers here: Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce consultation
 
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published an interim decision on a proposal to up-schedule codeine, which recommends all over-the-counter medicines containing codeine become prescription-only. The TGA has based the decision on the risk of dependence or adverse events associated with codeine medicines. Stakeholders have until 15 October to make a submission, with a final decision expected in late November this year. Read the interim decision here.
 
State Developments
 
Victorian Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy has appointed former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay APM Chair of the new Board of Ambulance Victoria. Mr Lay will begin his appointment on 1 December. See media release: Ken Lay Appointed New Chair of Ambulance 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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