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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
5 June 2015
 
As the Government continues to talk tough on national security, the latest Newspoll has seen Prime Minister Tony Abbott overtake Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister for the first time in fourteen months. While the Coalition primary vote has lifted by one point to 41 per cent, the Government still lags Labor 48-52 on a two party preferred basis.
 
Bill Shorten has given in-principle support for the Government’s proposed citizenship laws, however has called for more detail. Having initially denied Mr Shorten a formal briefing on the matter, the Prime Minister’s office has now relented and agreed to brief the Leader of the Opposition in the coming weeks.
 
Health Minister Sussan Ley has announced two new review panels to drive greater efficiencies in the Health portfolio. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce, to be chaired by the Dean of the Sydney Medical School Professor Bruce Robinson, will examine the efficacy of some 5,500 services listed on the MBS. The Primary Health Care Advisory Group will review options to provide better primary care when and where people need it. See media release: Establishment of expert groups to shape a healthier Medicare
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the official cash rate unchanged at 2.0% for June, following its decision to cut the rate by 0.25% in May. See media release: Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision
 
Politicians of all stripes gathered on Friday to mark the state funeral of former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner. Current state Premier Daniel Andrews along with former premiers Brumby, Bracks, Kennett and Cain all paid their respects. Federal Labor representatives included Bill Shorten, Simon Crean and Senator Kim Carr.
 
The NSW Government secured the passage of its Poles and Wires legislation through the Upper House on Wednesday following negotiations with the Christian Democrats. The passage of the legislation allows for the funding of the Government’s ambitious $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan, which formed the central plank of the Coalition’s election campaign.
 
NSW Premier Mike Baird announced Rob Whitfield will commence his appointment as the new Secretary of the NSW Treasury in July 2015. Mr Whitfield joins the Treasury from Westpac where he began his career as a graduate in 1986. See media release: New Secretary of NSW Treasury appointed


FINANCE
 
The Federal Government has signed an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agreement for the automatic exchange of common reporting standard information, allowing for greater scrutiny of Australian’s with offshore bank accounts and foreign assets. See media release: Australia signs up to combat tax evasion.
 
The Australian economy grew by 0.9% in the March 2015 quarter, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. Treasurer Joe Hockey has welcomed the news as vindication of the Government’s economic management. See ABS media release: Australian economy grows 0.9 per cent See Treasurer’s media release: National Accounts – March Quarter 2015



RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments
Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane announced the Federal Government has contracted Odgers Berndtson Australia to recruit for Australia’s next Chief Scientist. The successful applicant will replace Professor Ian Chubb, who concludes his tenure at the end of 2015. See media release: Searching for Australia's next Chief Scientist

State Developments
 
The New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) approved the $1b Yancoal Stratford Coal Mine expansion. The project still requires final approval from the Commonwealth Department of Environment. See media release: Positive step forward for Yancoal’s Stratford coal mine and Alkane Resources’ Dubbo Zirconia project
 
The Queensland Government released a Discussion Paper to consult on the introduction of ethanol mandates to promote growth in the State’s biofuels and bio-manufacturing industries. See media release: Exciting new era for biofuels
 
The WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion announced the signing of a conditional iron ore offtake agreement between Shandong Iron and Steel Group during a 10 day trade mission to China. See media release: China trade mission builds investment links
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
The Federal Government's Moorebank Intermodal Company (MIC) has signed an agreement with the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) for the development of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal. The Terminal is expected to be operational by 2017. Agreement reached for Sydney freight project at Moorebank
 
The Federal Government has committed $150 million to complete the M80 Ring Road upgrade between Sunshine Avenue and the Calder Freeway in Victoria. Transurban will provide its project proposal and financial business plan to Infrastructure Australia for evaluation. See media release: Delivering the infrastructure Victoria needs

State Developments
 
Tenders have now been invited for detailed design work on the M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade in NSW, following the release of the review of environmental factors. Detailed design is expected to be completed by late 2016. See media release: Progress on M1 upgrade as Enviro report released
 
The Victorian Government is calling for Expressions of Interest regarding the airport end of the CityLink Tulla Widening Project. See media release: First steps to cut congestion on the Tulla
 
Four companies have been shortlisted to prepare detailed proposals for the Tonkin Highway upgrade in Western Australia as part of the $1.12 billion NorthLink WA initiative. Construction will begin in early 2016. See media release: Four companies shortlisted for NorthLink WA Contract
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments
 
The Federal Government has released Australia’s first Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, which aims to address the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics. The strategy follows statistics showing Australia’s consumption of antibiotics is among the highest in the developed world.  See media release: National Strategy to address antibiotic overuse and National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019
 
Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced Crizotinib will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) from July 1 2015, at a cost of $60 million. Crizotinib is used to treat a rare life-threatening form of lung cancer and costs in excess of $80,000 per patient. See media release: New drug listing treats rare life-threatening lung cancer

State Developments
 
Victorian Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley, opened Emerald Hill Residence, a 146-bed residential aged care facility in South Melbourne.  See media release: Emerald Hill Residence Heralds New Era for Historic South Melbourne Site


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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