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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
1 May 2015
 
Australians woke to the news on Wednesday morning that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had been executed in Indonesia.  After a decade spent in prison, and months of intense representations from Australian officials - most notably Foreign Minister Julie Bishop - calling for clemency, the pair were killed by firing squad.  Foreign Minister Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott held a joint press conference to condemn the killings, and announced that the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson will be withdrawn for consultations later this week.
 
Also overseas this week, Australia has evacuated 106 Australians and delivered two RAAF planes carrying 15 tonnes of aid following the earthquake in Nepal.  Today Ms Bishop announced a further $5 million in humanitarian aid for the devastated country, bringing Australia’s total contribution to date to $10 million.
 
Earlier in the week Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with French President Francois Hollande.  The two countries have committed to build on the Strategic Partnership signed in 2012 by enhancing high-level dialogues on security and terrorism issues, and strengthening intelligence cooperation.
 
Media reports today suggest that the Social Services Minister Scott Morrison will next week announce details of the Government’s key childcare measures to be included in the budget, which will be handed down on 12 May.  This follows the announcement of a $250 million two year nanny pilot program for home care services.
 
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released its Network Revenue Determination for the 2014-2019 control period this week.  The determination will see a reduction in electricity bills for customers in NSW, QLD, SA and the ACT.  The decision has been welcomed by various governments.  See the AER here.
 
The Northern Territory Government handed down its budget on Tuesday, marking the start of ‘budget season’.  Treasurer Dave Tollner revealed a $285.2 million deficit, and a projected path back to surplus in 2017-18.  See budget papers here.
 
The Victorian Labor Government will deliver its first budget next Tuesday.  GRACosway will issue a comprehensive budget briefing note on the day.  The upcoming budget timetable is as follows:
 
  • Federal – Tuesday 12 May
  • WA – Thursday 14 May
  • Tasmania – Thursday 28 May
  • SA – Thursday 18 June
  • NSW – Tuesday 23 June
  • QLD – Tuesday 14 July
 
The 56th NSW Parliament will be officially summoned following the March 28 election on Tuesday, a mostly ceremonial day, with the return to normal parliamentary business from Wednesday. See Tuesday’s business program here.

VIC, QLD, SA, WA and ACT parliaments also sit next week.


FINANCE

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) Annual Report shows that foreign investment in the 2013-2014 financial year increased by 23.4% on the previous year.  See the Treasurer’s media release: Australia is open for business and the report: Foreign Investment Review Board Annual Report 2013-2014
 
The Federal Government has released draft legislation to extend unfair contract terms for small businesses.  The legislation would allow a court to rule out a term of a small business contract if it is considered unfair.  The consultation period on the legislation ends 12 May.  See media release: Draft legislation released – unfair contract terms and the draft legislation: Extending unfair contract terms for small business owners
 
Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that Australia will provide $10 million to the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Pacific Project Preparation Facility.  See media release: Australian contribution to the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Pacific Project Preparation Facility
 
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has signed a cooperation agreement with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission, allowing the agencies to share information relating to cross-border transactions, mergers and acquisitions.  See media release: Australia and Japan to increase cooperation on competition matters
 

RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments

The Federal Government has begun consultation regarding Australian greenhouse gas emissions reduction target beyond 2020.  The first in a series of four roundtables was held in Sydney this week, ahead of an announcement later this year.  Submissions close today.  See media release:  Roundtable Consultations Post-2020 Target Begin
 
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt has granted federal environmental approval to the Kintyre Uranium Project, a joint venture between Cameco and Mitsubishi Development.  The decision has been welcomed by the Minerals Council of Australia, the first major approval by the Abbott government of a uranium development.  See media release:  First Uranium Project Approval from Abbott Government and the approval documents and conditions here

State Developments
 
The Queensland Government has announced the establishment of the Queensland Productivity Commission. The new body has been tasked with conducting a public inquiry into electricity prices in Queensland.  See media release: Deregulation deferred as Productivity Commission conducts power price probe

The NSW Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Metgasco, following the Office of Coal Seam Gas’ May 2014 suspension of the company’s right to drill at the Rosella site, near Bentley in Northern NSW.  The NSW Government is reviewing the judgement and awaiting further legal advice.  Media reports suggest the company will seek compensation from the government.  See media release: Statement on Metgasco Decision and the Australian Financial Review (AFR): NSW Supreme Court overturns drilling moratorium on Metgasco in Northern Rivers (subscription service)
 

INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss announced that Pacific Complete (Laing O'Rourke and Parsons Brinkerhoff) has been chosen as the preferred delivery partner for the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade.  The project will mark the first time the Delivery Partner Model has been used for a major Australian infrastructure project.  See media release: Preferred delivery partner selected for Woolgoolga to Ballina

State Developments

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $5 billion Western Distributor project, proposed by Transurban to connect the West Gate Freeway to CityLink via a tunnel, and build a second river crossing and an elevated freeway along Footscray Road, has progressed to Stage Three of the Government’s Market-led Proposals Guideline.  See media release: New Project To Reduce Congestion On West Gate Bridge Progresses
 
State and Federal governments have announced that lanes will be added to main roads in Victoria including CityLink and the Tullamarine Freeway.  The $1.3 billion project is expected to begin in October.  See media release: Agreement signed to widen Citylink/Tulla all the way to the Airport
 
The Victorian Government has also announced $1.5 billion for the planning, design and early works of the Melbourne Metro, ahead of major works beginning in 2018.  See media release: $1.5 Billion To Get Started On Melbourne Metro Rail Project
 

HEALTH

Federal Developments

Minister for Health Sussan Ley has approved a review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s (PBAC) submission guidelines.  The review will ensure that contemporary methodological issues associated with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are captured in the guidelines used by the pharmaceutical industry.  The Government has issued a tender calling for a consulting service to conduct the review.  See media release: Pharmaceutical submission guidelines to be reviewed and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee Guidelines Review
 
The Agenda for the July 2015 Pharmaceutical Benefit Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting has been released.  Consumer input for consideration by the PBAC is welcome by 10 June 2015.  See media release: July 2015 PBAC Meeting Agenda
 
Public submissions on the Life Saving Drugs Programme (LSDP) Issues Paper have been extended from 30 April to 18 May.  See the consultation page here.

State Developments

Victorian Minister for Finance Robin Scott announced that the CEO of Cancer Council Victoria Todd Harper will lead a new Ministerial Advisory Group to develop a major health strategy for Victorians, building on the 2008-2013 WorkHealth program.  See media release: Minister Announces New WorkHealth Advisory Group
 
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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