GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

10 July 2015

In an important moment of bipartisanship, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten welcomed Indigenous leaders to  Kirribilli House this week to discuss a proposed referendum on constitutional recognition of the First Australians. The leaders proposed establishing a Referendum Council broadly reflective of the Australian population and hosting a series of community conferences to gauge public opinion and maximise support for constitutional recognition. A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee will develop a discussion paper on the issue. See joint media release here.

The bipartisanship was short-lived, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten facing two days of questioning before the Royal Commission into Union Corruption regarding his time at the Australian Workers Union. Mr Shorten, who rejects assertions of wrongdoing, also came under fire over a failure to disclose a $40,000 donation made to his 2007 campaign for Maribyrnong by construction firm Unibilt.

The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper: Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy was released on Saturday by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce. The paper outlines the Government’s key priorities in helping the sector attract investment and highlights the importance of ensuring a prosperous agricultural sector as the mining industry continues to slow. See the joint media release here and read the White Paper here.

Meanwhile, Minister Joyce has been scathing of his own Government, following Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt’s decision to award federal government approval to the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark coal mine in NSW, with 18 of the strictest environmental conditions in Australian history. The approval has been met with stiff opposition from local farming groups, with Minister Joyce, who is also the local MP, labelling the decision as ridiculous. See media coverage in the SMH here (subscription service).

Queensland Parliament sits next week. Treasurer Curtis Pitt will hand down his first budget as part of Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk’s new Labor Government.

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