GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

19 June 2015

The week began with the Federal Government in a decidedly unsteady position over allegations of government payments to people smugglers, before seeing media attention turn sharply towards the Opposition. While the Government refused to comment on ‘on water matters’ the Opposition too came under question over similar allegations when it was in office.

It was a challenging week for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, with the latest Newspoll showing a drop in his approval rating, followed by  suggestions of impropriety during his days as Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union. In an effort to clear his name, Mr Shorten sought to bring forward his appearance at the Royal Commission into Union Corruption and will now appear on 8 July.

The Prime Minister, Minister for Trade Andrew Robb and the Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng signed the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, concluding negotiations that began under the former Howard Government. More than 85 per cent of Australian exports to China will be tariff-free once ratified, in time rising to 95 per cent. See the Minister’s media release here.

Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison reached agreement with The Greens to secure passage of the Government’s proposed cuts to the aged pension. Changes to the Pension Assets Test will see the threshold for couples, excluding the family home, fall from $1.15 million to about $820,000 and will save the budget $2.43 billion over the forward estimates. See media release here.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was joined by senior cabinet ministers to release the Developing Northern Australia White Paper. The Paper provides a template for encouraging investment and infrastructure in the Top End and outlines $1.2 billion in new investment with an additional $5 billion Infrastructure Loan Facility, as announced in last month’s budget. Read the White Paper or see GRACosways’s summary here.

In the latest Newspoll, Labor leads the Coalition 51:49 in the two-party-preferred vote.

South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis delivered his second budget and the first since the Weatherill Government rebooted its policy agenda at the February opening of Parliament. The budget projects a surplus of $43 million in 2015-16 rising to $961 million in 2018-19. See GRACosway’s budget brief here.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian will deliver the NSW Budget on Tuesday 23 June. GRACosway will bring you coverage of the budget next week.

Federal, NSW, VIC, WA, ACT and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.

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