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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
22 January 2016
 
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull made a surprise visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan this week, ahead of his meeting with President Obama in Washington on Tuesday. The two leaders discussed bilateral trade and defence relations, and committed to advancing negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. The Prime Minister also announced the establishment of an annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue, to be jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
 
Mr Turnbull returns to growing instability within his home division of the NSW Liberal Party, as preselection opened for the Party’s 22 House of Representative and two Senate seats on 19 January. A number of high profile parliamentarians are said to be facing challenges, including Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and father of the House Phillip Ruddock.
 
On a positive note for the Government, Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos has reportedly been cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of allegations of corruption, relating to his time as Chair of Australian Water Holdings. Read more in The Australian’s coverage here (subscription service).
 
Following last year’s controversy over the sale of Darwin Port to the Chinese Landbridge Group, Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed the Government will seek to remove the ‘private company exemption’ from the Foreign Investment Review Board’s examination of state-owned critical infrastructure. This may frustrate the Victorian Government’s current sale process for the Port of Melbourne, which they hope to fetch up to $7 billion for. 
 
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill unveiled a revamped Cabinet on Tuesday, featuring two new ministers and a number of significant changes in portfolio responsibilities. Premier Weatherill said the reshuffle is designed to better apportion the workload and responsibility for key ministers while requiring other members of his team to “step up”. The announcement follows the resignations of Gail Gago and Tony Piccolo from the Ministry last week. See GRACosway’s briefing note from earlier in the week here


FINANCE
 
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Alex Hawke and Minister for Social Services Christian Porter announced a whole-of-government working group on the lack of affordable housing in Australia, with terms of reference to be released this month. The formation of this working group follows a request from Treasurers at the Council on Federal Financial Relations meeting in October 2015. See media release: Strengthening the Government’s affordable housing agenda
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
Minister for Environment Greg Hunt welcomed the opening of two of Australia’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Nyngan and Broken Hill, built by First Solar and to be operated by AGL. The plants double Australia’s large-scale solar capacity with enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. The Federal Government committed $166.7 million, while the NSW Government providing $64.9 million towards the $440 million solar project. See media release: Largest solar farms in Southern Hemisphere powering 50,000 Australian homes
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has announced that applications have opened for Round Three of the National Stronger Regions Fund. Projects can qualify for grants of up to $10 million, matched dollar-for-dollar. Submissions are open until 15 March 2016. See media release: Round Three now open for National Stronger Regions Fund
 
State Developments
 
Transport for NSW has opened registrations of interest for companies to design and construct the Newcastle Light Rail, which will run through the CBD from Wickham to Pacific Park. The registration process closes 12 February 2016. See media release: Transforming Newcastle: Call for industry to design and build light rail
 
West Australian Minister for Transport Dean Nalder announced work will begin on the $1.12 billion NorthLink project with John Holland Pty Ltd selected for the first construction contract and building expected to begin in mid-2016. See media release: Joint media statement - NorthLink WA contract awarded to John Holland
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
The Board of Medicines Australia has appointed Mr Lee Hill the interim CEO of the pharmaceutical peak body, following the resignation of Tim James in December. Mr Hill will commence in his new role next week and is expected to remain as interim CEO until June 2016. See media release: Interim CEO appointed to Medicines Australia
 
State Developments
 
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a new $70 million hospital will be built at Roma, west of Brisbane, as part of the $180 million Enhancing Regional Hospitals program. The Premier said the new hospital would have the capacity to treat 3500 patients per year, 500 more than the current facility. See media release: Palaszczuk Government to deliver new Roma Hospital
 
The South Australian Government released a draft design for its $15 million veterans’ mental health facility, to be built at the Glenside Health Service Campus in Adelaide. Health Minister Jack Snelling and newly-appointed Minister for Mental Health Leesa Vlahos will seek feedback on the draft plans from veterans’ groups. The new facility is part of the Government’s Transforming Health initiative. See media release: Draft concept revealed for Veterans’ Mental Health Precinct
 
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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