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GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
11 September 2015
 
This week marked two years since the Abbott Government was elected, with the latest Newspoll showing the Coalition’s primary vote is 6.6 points lower than on Election Day in September 2013. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten remains preferred Prime Minister 41 points to Mr Abbott’s 37.
 
The Federal Government’s response to the Syrian conflict came to the fore this week. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was moved by images of a Syrian toddler who drowned as his family attempted to reach Greece by boat, initially announcing Australia would increase the number of refugees accepted from Syria within the current humanitarian intake. The PM later announced an additional 12,000 places for Syrian refugees and funding for refugee agencies, while confirming Australia would extend air strikes from Iraq into Syria. The announcement followed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s talks with the UNHCR in Geneva.
 
Treasurer Joe Hockey used the annual G20 summit of finance ministers and central bank governors to highlight multinational corporate tax avoidance, indicating the Federal Government will introduce legislation to address the issue in the next fortnight. Read The Australian’s coverage here (subscription service).
 
Debate over the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) continues, with the Business Council of Australia and the Minerals Council starting an advertising campaign in support of the agreement and the Prime Minister challenging the Opposition Leader to support a parliamentary motion backing the deal. Unions continue to campaign against the ChAFTA in the WA seat of Canning in an attempt to influence the result of the September 19 by-election.   
 
The Opposition’s Senate motion to remove Justice Dyson Heydon as head of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was defeated this week, evenly splitting the Upper House with 34 votes each way.
 
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced former Queensland Labor state secretary Cameron Milner as his new chief of staff, replacing Ken Macpherson who resigned for health reasons two months ago. Milner will be based in Canberra, commencing in the next fortnight.
 
Former Howard government minister Larry Anthony is set to be elected as The Nationals’ federal president at the Party’s conference in Canberra this weekend. Issues up for debate include trade policy, privatisation and agriculture.
 
The Federal Parliament will sit next week, along with every state and territory parliament, except South Australia. 


FINANCE

Federal Developments

 
The Federal Government has announced the successful passage of the Banking Laws Amendment (Unclaimed Moneys) Bill 2015 through the Parliament. The Bill provides changes to the time bank accounts and life insurance policies can be inactive before they are transferred to government, from three to seven years and ensures measures for tighter consumer privacy. See media release: Coalition Government fixes unclaimed money provisions
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2015; 6.2 per cent, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points.  See media release: Australia's unemployment rate decreased to 6.2 per cent in August 2015
 


RESOURCES AND ENERGY

State Developments
 
Queensland Minister for Energy Mark Bailey announced the renewable energy auction commitment of 40 megawatts will be exceeded by 50 per cent. This renewable energy will be used for solar projects only. See media release: Solar to drive a clean energy Queensland
 
Western Australian Minister for Environment and Heritage Albert Jacob announced the state will invest $10 million in an incentive scheme to increase local councils’ use of recycled construction and demolition materials in public infrastructure projects. The Construction and Demolition Product Procurement Incentive Program will invest $10 million over 3 years. See media release: $10m for recycled construction and demolition waste
 
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill witnessed the signing of an agreement between five Chinese steel companies for a $4 billion iron ore project in South Australia. Iron Road signed with five leading Chinese steel companies, including Shandong Iron and Steel Group. See media release: $4 billion iron ore project strikes agreement with China
 


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments
 
The Federal Government has appointed Philippa Stone to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Board. Her term begins on October 1 2015. See media release: Government announces Aviation Safety appointment
 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has opened expressions of interest for over $1 billion of works to upgrade seven kilometres of the Bruce Highway from Caloundra Road to the Sunshine Motorway. Contractors have until October 1 to express their interest. See media release: Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway tender process begins
 
Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay this week released the Environmental Impact Statement for the M4 East and invited community comment. See media release: Community consultation key for M4 East EIS
 
Infrastructure Australia has released the latest Australian Infrastructure Metric, showing a 40 per cent increase in transport infrastructure over 2014/15, but a 28 per cent drop in total investment. See media release: Transport infrastructure investment up 40 per cent – amidst falling overall activity 

State Developments

The Federal and WA Governments have released the preferred routes for traffic bypasses around the Wheatbelt towns of Miling and Wubin. Construction on the projects, estimated to cost $45 million in total, is expected to begin in the next two years. See media release: Bypass routes confirmed for Miling and Wubin
 
In Victoria, Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting have been awarded the contracts for four level crossing removals across the State. The package of works, worth $481.2 million, is expected to begin in October. See media release: Level Crossing Contract Awarded With Works To Start Within Weeks
 


HEALTH

Federal Developments

The Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley has made a number of new appointments to the Cancer Australia Advisory Council, which provides strategic advice to Cancer Australia about the performance of its functions. See media release: Appointments to Cancer Australia Advisory Council

State Developments

The Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has officially opened new $81 million specialist facilities at Frankston Hospital, including a larger emergency department, intensive care beds, a short stay ward and two acute adult inpatient wards. See media release: New Home for Frankston Hospital Specialist Clinics
 
The Queensland Minister for Health Cameron Dick has announced a five-year program designed to increase participation in clinical cancer trials by national and international cancer research teams. See media release: $7 million clinical trial funding set to save lives
 

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.
 
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