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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
19 February 2016
 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new Ministry was sworn in on Thursday, which sees three new Cabinet members, five new ministers and 5 new assistant ministers (previously known as parliamentary secretaries). Barnaby Joyce was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister having been elected leader of the Nationals last week and retains his Agriculture and Water Resources portfolios. Minister for Rural Health Senator Fiona Nash has been promoted into Cabinet following her election as Deputy Leader of the Nationals, adding the portfolios of Regional Development and Regional Communications. Victorian MP Alan Tudge replaces Stuart Robert as Minister for Human Services in the outer ministry. Read GRACosway’s briefing note from earlier in the week here.
 
Immigration and national security dominated talks between Mr Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who flew into Sydney on Friday. In a joint press conference following their meeting, Mr Turnbull announced that New Zealanders on special category visas who have lived in Australia for a minimum of five years would be eligible to apply for citizenship. Mr and Mrs Turnbull will host Mr Key and his wife, at their Point Piper residence, during their stay in Sydney.
 
Meanwhile, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison called on his ministerial colleagues to stop spending in his address to the National Press Club on Thursday, as he revealed the Coalition had committed to more than $70 billion in new expenditure since forming government in 2013, having only outlined $80 billion in savings. The Treasurer said tax relief for those entering the second highest tax bracket would be a priority in the May budget, as the Government continues to consider changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount. Read the Treasurer’s speech in full here.
 
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten flew into Perth this week as it was revealed that the third and final West Australian federal Labor MP, Gary Gray, will retire at the election, joining Alannah MacTiernan and Melissa Parke. In making his announcement, the former resources minister said he believed it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the first term opposition could win the election. 
 
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has conceded the sale of the Port of Melbourne will not proceed this year, if the Government cannot secure the passage of enabling legislation. Mr Pallas confirmed that the Government has sought more advice about selling the port without the support of Parliament, but said the process would take in excess of 15 months.
 
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission handed its Tentative Findings Report to the South Australian Government this week, which states a commercial-scale nuclear waste storage facility could generate up to $257 billion in economic benefit for the state. The Royal Commission was established in February 2015 to consider South Australia’s involvement in the four sectors of the nuclear industry; mining, enrichment, energy and storage. The South Australian Government will undertake a community engagement project between May and August, following the release of the final report by 6 May 2016. See Premier Jay Weatherill media release here, federal Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg release here, and the tentative findings here.
 
The Federal, NSW, Victorian, Queensland, SA and WA parliaments sit next week.


FINANCE
 
Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer released the Terms of Reference for the first two stages of the Productivity Commission review into the superannuation system. The Productivity Commission has been tasked by the Turnbull Government to develop criteria to determine the efficiency and competitiveness of the superannuation system. See media release: Productivity Commission review into the efficiency and competitiveness of the superannuation system
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
 
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt has announced the Government will provide a loan of $9.1 million through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to the University of Melbourne.  The investment will help the University fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects aimed at reducing its grid electricity use by around 8 per cent.   See media release:  Government invests $9 million in renewable future for Melbourne University
 
Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg addressed the National Press Club, on Tuesday, outlining the challenges facing the sector and the Government’s commitment to continue reform in the industry, including new measures to help enhance the productivity of exploration activity.  See full speech:  The resilience of Australia’s energy and resources sectors in challenging times
 
State Developments
 
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham announced mineral explorers will receive a 50 per cent reduction in exploration permits costs, over two years, as the industry struggles through the global mining downturn. See media release: Explorer concession supports Qld resources sector
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Infrastructure Australia this week released its first 15 year national infrastructure plan, which contains 78 recommendations for reform and lists over 90 priority projects, including; the new metro rail systems in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; road and rail initiatives in Perth, public transport improvements in Adelaide and Canberra; urban renewal in Hobart and Metropolitan water supply upgrades to support Darwin's growing population. See the plan here: Infrastructure Australia Plan.  
 
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance revealed plans to construct a temporary six-lane road alongside Anzac Parade to allow for construction of the Moore Park tunnel for the Light Rail project. The plan will significantly reduce construction time and associated traffic delays for that section of track between Sydney's CBD and the eastern suburbs. See media release: ANZAC parade diversions for light rail tunnel construction
 


HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
Details about the Independent Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation have been released, including timeframes for consultation. A discussion paper will be published in April 2016 before an interim report is released in the second half of the year. The Review was agreed to by the Federal Government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in 2015 and will consider issues such as pharmacy location rules. See more information here.  
 
State Developments
 
The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $21.4 million in funding to complete the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, following major delays and cost blowouts caused by extensive unexpected asbestos removal. The Hospital will contribute an additional $10 million to deliver the project, which includes seven operating rooms and a new emergency department. See media release: Labor Government steps in to save eye and ear hospital after botched Liberal redevelopment  
 
In Queensland, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick has established a working group to progress plans to expand the state’s pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) demonstration project. The Queensland AIDS Council and HIV Foundation Queensland will work with the State Government to make recommendations about extending the project, which currently provides 150 Queenslanders with access to HIV prevention medicine. See media release: United front to expand PrEP in Queensland
 
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.
 
GRACosway is a member of the Clemenger Group.
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