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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
31 July 2015
Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop is under pressure to resign over her use of travel entitlements. Several Government ministers have distanced themselves from the Speaker, with reports that a growing number of her colleagues believe she should go. The Opposition will seek to move a motion of no confidence in Mrs Bishop when Parliament returns on 10 August.
Meanwhile, The Australian Labor Party concluded its national conference on Sunday having outlined a number of policy announcements it will take to the next election. The conference agreed to an ambitious renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, a bill for marriage equality in the first 100 days of a new Labor government and voted down an attempt to overturn Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s support of boat turn-backs.
Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb was in Hawaii this week to progress negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Progress has stalled on a number of fronts, including United States opposition to dairy liberalisation. At home, five Queensland members of the federal Nationals party room have vowed to oppose the TPP if it does not make allowances for Australian sugar exporters.
Greens state member for Franklin, Nick McKim, has been announced as Christine Milne’s replacement, who retired from the Senate earlier this year. McKim, a former state party leader and minister in the Giddings Government, was one of nine candidates to contest the ballot. McKim’s replacement for the state seat of Franklin will be determined by countback, under the rules of Hare-Clarke. See announcement here.
In a joint interview with The Australian this week, Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson and Defence Force chief Mark Binskin said the forthcoming defence white paper will focus on re-equipping the Royal Australian Navy and the preservation of the Australian shipbuilding industry. Mr Richardson described the process as the most meticulous approach ever taken by a government, with the paper due for release in late August. Read more here (subscription service).
In what has been labelled an embarrassing defeat in the NSW Government’s prosecution of UberX, the Government has been forced to drop charges against 24 UberX drivers citing ‘evidentiary issues’. In response the Government announced it will be increasing its efforts by conducting random roadside checks.
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the appointment of Philip Dalidakis as the new Minister for Small Business on Friday. Mr Dalidakis replaces Adem Somyurek who resigned on Tuesday following an inquiry into allegations of staff bullying by the former minister. Somyurek was highly critical of the Premier’s handling of the issue and called for the sacking of the Premier’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Premier James Merlino. 

Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced the appointment of five new members to the Takeovers Panel. The Panel provides a mechanism for peer review of takeovers activity, with the aim of being more efficient and more expeditious than the courts.  The members are; Ms Stephanie Charles, Ms Nicola Wakefield Evans, Ms Karen Phin, Ms Sarah Rennie and Mr Bill Koeck.  See media release: Appointment of part-time members to the Takeovers Panel
Following repeal of Labor’s carbon tax in 2014, Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson and Minister for Environment, Greg Hunt, announced the voluntary return of approximately $100 million of carbon tax charges to local councils. See media release: $100 million carbon tax refund to cut council rates and Australia’s emissions


Federal Developments
Queensland Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the China Stone Coal project in the northern Galilee Basin.  The thermal coal mine, proposed by MacMines Austasia, would create 3900 jobs during construction and up to 3400 jobs on an ongoing basis. See media release: Have your say on the China Stone Coal Project.
Queensland Minister for State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham announced the creation of the Community Ministerial Roundtable to give a voice to agricultural, landholder, conservation, and Indigenous community groups and local government on resource issues. See media release: Community voices to be heard on Queensland resources future
Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion opened Ungani onshore oilfield, the first oil development in the Kimberley. The joint venture between Buru Energy and Mitsubishi Corporation is expected to produce 199 cubic metres of oil per day. See media release: Exciting new oil province opens in the Kimberley


Federal Developments
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss announced the detailed design contract of the M1 Pacific Motorway upgrade between the Kariong and Somersby has been awarded to Hyder Consulting Pty Ltd. See media release: M1 Kariong to Somersby detailed design contract awarded
Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Dr Rhondda Dickson will become Deputy Secretary of the Department of Environment in late September. Dr Dickson will have responsibility for the Office of Environmental Science and Economics, including the two climate change divisions in her new role at the Department. See media release: MDBA chief to take up new role.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and BIS Shrapnel have released the Australian Infrastructure Metric report for the March 2015 quarter. The report forecasts a $17 billion drop in infrastructure spending across the country, led by a collapse in mining investment. See media release: Australian Infrastructure Metric March 2015 and the Australian Infrastructure Metric report

State Developments
NSW Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Andrew Constance revealed the design for the new transport interchange at Wickham, as part of the NSW government’s plan to reinvigorate Newcastle. The design of the interchange will enable the development of light rail in the future and is expected to be in use by 2017. See media release: Design revealed for Wickham Transport Interchange.
Expressions of interest have opened for the construction of Melbourne’s new $200 million Western Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Design consultants have started work on the 237-bed facility which will also boast 20 maternity delivery rooms and four theatres. Construction is expected to commence in late 2016. See media release: New Western Women’s & Children’s Hospital Under Way.
The Victorian State Government this week began the removal of the Gardiner Station level crossing, the first of 50 to be removed over the next eight years. See media release: First Level Crossing Rail Line Closure Underway With More To Come


Federal Developments
The Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will recommend that Parliament pass the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2014, to establish a national regulator for medical marijuana. See the article here: Senators give medical marijuana the green light (subscription service).
During the ALP National Conference, Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King delivered a speech outlining Labor’s guiding principles for formulating health policies. See the speech here:  A Health System for All
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