GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

30 October 2015

In a series of interviews this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull laid out his broader vision for Australia. Describing himself as a ‘natural reformer’, Turnbull said his Government would seek to broaden the tax base whilst lowering rates, as well as expand the Federal Government’s role in nation building and create a national innovation agenda. On infrastructure, Mr Turnbull said it made more sense for the Commonwealth to ‘have a piece’ of major projects rather than simply hand out grants.

The Coalition’s primary vote has risen two points in the latest Newspoll, to reach 45 per cent, the highest level since Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as Prime Minister, giving the Coalition a comfortable 52 to 48 per cent two-party lead over the Opposition. Voter satisfaction with the Prime Minister has also reached a new peak, and he now leads Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister 63 to 17 per cent.

In an interview with Sky News, Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield confirmed he will be seeking crossbench support for media ownership and broadcasting reforms, saying there is growing momentum on this issue. The Minister is said to favour abolishing the ‘two-out-of-three rule’, which limits consolidation between print, radio and TV outlets, and the 75 per cent reach rule. This follows the Nine Network’s announcement this week that it will join Chanel Seven in live streaming content via the internet. See The Australian’s coverage here (subscription service).

Dr Alan Finkel AO has been appointed Australia’s next Chief Scientist and will succeed Professor Ian Chubb AC in January 2016. Dr Finkel is the Chancellor of Monash University and President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). See the Prime Minister’s media release here.

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA) confirmed this week that it too has been in discussions with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) about a possible merger. TCFUA currently has 6,000 members, having seen its membership dwindle with the decline of the textiles industry in Australia. The CFMEU announced earlier this month that it will merge with the Maritime Union of Australia.

In NSW, Premier Mike Baird has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a $3.5 million partnership with British-based GW Pharmaceuticals, to provide medicinal cannabis product Epidiolex to children with severe drug resistant epilepsy from early 2016. See Premier’s media release here.

Acting State President of the NSW Liberal Party and former Hockey adviser, Trent Zimmerman, has been selected as the Liberal candidate for the North Sydney by-election, to be held on 5 December. The seat is currently held with a 16 per cent margin and Labor has announced that it will not run a candidate.

In a major win for the Andrews Government, the Prime Minister has written to Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas to advise it will release $1.5 billion of Commonwealth funds, intended for the construction of the East West Link, for other projects. The money is likely to be spent on the construction of the Western Distributor, which will link the West Gate Freeway with the Port, CityLink and the city.

Ride sharing app Uber began operations in Canberra on Friday, under new regulations announced by the ACT Government in September. Meanwhile, Premier Will Hodgman has announced that Tasmania will be the first state to legalise and regulate ‘sharing economy’ apps such as Uber.

No Parliaments sit next week.

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