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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
24 April 2015
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in Turkey this weekend for the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli.  PM Abbott will also attend the memorial ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux in France to commemorate Australia’s involvement on the Western Front.  Earlier in the week, PM Abbott was in New Zealand to meet with Prime Minister John Key and to attend the dedication of the Australian Memorial in Wellington.
Media reports suggest that WA will receive an upfront payment of $600 million from the Federal Government to deal with declining GST revenue, following last week’s COAG meeting where leaders agreed to retain the existing GST distribution formula for the next year, despite pressure from WA Premier Colin Barnett to increase his State’s share.  WA Treasurer Mike Nahan has said any payment will not be a handout, while the Federal Government is yet to confirm speculation from the bilateral talks between the two governments.
With just over two weeks until the federal budget, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attempted to put some pressure on the government, announcing a Labor policy to find $14.3 billion over 10 years in savings by changing superannuation tax arrangements for high income earners.  Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen followed up the next day in a National Press Club address, flagging potential changes to negative gearing.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week made the first visit to Iran by an Australian Minister in over a decade.  Ms Bishop also announced former Senator and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Hon. Dr Brett Mason as Australia’s next Ambassador to the Netherlands.
The Productivity Commission has released an issues paper for its inquiry into public safety mobile broadband, see here.
WA and Tasmanian Parliaments sit next week.  Meanwhile, the NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian this week announced that the State Government will hand down its budget on 23 June.


Treasurer Joe Hockey and the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have announced the establishment of a joint working group to consider ways of preventing corporations from diverting profits to minimise tax.  See media release: UK and Australia agree to collaborate on multinational tax
Treasurer Hockey also announced that Australia will provide $25 million to the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, which aims to encourage infrastructure investments through public-private partnerships in developing countries.  See media release: Australian contribution to the World Bank Group’s Global Infrastructure Facility

The Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into the Scrutiny of Financial Advice held its second public hearing this week, hearing that financial advisers at major firms had continued working elsewhere after being stood down for bad behaviour.  The committee will report by 1 February 2016.  See the inquiry homepage here


Federal Developments

The Clean Energy Regulator has completed the first auction of the Emissions Reduction Fund, with contracts awarded for the abatement of 47 million tonnes of carbon at an average cost of $13.95 per tonne.  See media release: First Emissions Reduction Fund auction delivers significant abatement

The Climate Change Authority has released its draft report into Australia's climate change policies and goals, recommending a revised target of a 30% reduction in emissions below 2000 levels, by 2025.  See media release: Draft Report: Australia’s Future Emissions Reduction Targets and the draft report here

State Developments
NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts has released the Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) Review Report which proposes increasing targets under the scheme for electricity retailers.  Submissions on the Report close 18 May.  See media release: Energy Efficiency Boost to Save Billions

The Commonwealth-Western Australia Offshore Petroleum Joint Authority has renewed 6 retention leases that form part of the $55 billion Chevron-operated Gorgon Project.  See media release: Developing our offshore petroleum resources


Federal Developments
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs announced $53.5 million for 210 Black Spot projects in NSW, and $19.6 million for 77 Black Spot projects in WA.  See media releases for upgrade details: $53.5 Million to fix local Black Spots in NSW and $19.6 million to fix local black spots in Western Australia
The Federal Government has approved $33 million to construct new bridges and approaches as part of Bruce Highway upgrades at Yellow Gin Creek, south of Ayr in Queensland.  Construction will begin later this year.  The Queensland Government will contribute $9 million to the upgrade.  See media release: Funding approved for Yellow Gin Creek Bridge upgrade
The Federal Government has approved $15.5 million for the implementation of the Advanced Train Management System project under the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).  See media release: Funding approved for first stage of the Advanced Train Management System Implementation
State Developments

The NSW Government has announced three companies have been invited to tender for the construction of the new Barangaroo Ferry Hub.  Subject to approvals, construction is expected to begin in 2016.  See media release: Tender out to deliver Barangaroo Ferry Hub
In Victoria, Les Wielinga has been appointed as Chair of the Major Transport Infrastructure Board.  See media release: Les Wielinga To Head Major Transport Infrastructure Board

The Queensland Government has approved the construction of the $27.5 million Beaudesert Town Centre Bypass.  Construction will start in 2016 and be completed in 2017.  See media release: Government green lights Beaudesert bypass
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that a tender has been awarded for the construction of a new $10 million bridge over Angellala Creek.  See media release: Green light to build vital freight link in Western Queensland


Federal Developments

Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce, to be led by Professor Bruce Dean, to examine the 5,500 services currently listed on the MBS for efficiencies and to ensure services reflect best practice.  Minister Ley also announced a Primary Health Care Advisory Group, to be led by Dr Steve Hambleton.  The MBS Taskforce is expected to report back in late 2015.  See media release: Abbott Government to deliver a healthier Medicare

The outcomes of the March Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting have been published, with more than 40 new medicines being recommended for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), including breakthrough treatments for hepatitis C and melanoma.  See the outcomes page here
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will require Medicines Australia to strengthen its public reporting arrangements as part of authorising the next edition (18) of the MA Code of Conduct.  See the media release: ACCC authorises Medicines Australia code subject to strengthening individual reporting

State Developments

The Victorian and Queensland governments announced that they will jointly participate with the NSW Government’s upcoming medicinal cannabis trials.  See media releases: Victoria To Participate In Medicinal Cannabis Trials and Queensland to establish medicinal cannabis trial
QLD Minister for Health Cameron Dick announced two new youth residential rehabilitation facilities in Townsville for people living with a serious mental illness.  The facilities will be delivered by a non-government organisation in partnership with the local hospital and health service mental health team.  See media release: Expansion of North Queensland intensive youth mental health services
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