GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

24 July 2015

State and Territory leaders descended on Sydney on Wednesday for the Australian Leaders’ Retreat, ahead of a COAG meeting on Thursday. The Leaders discussed tax reform, including NSW Premier Mike Baird’s proposal to raise the GST to 15 per cent to fund rising healthcare costs; a proposal welcomed by Premiers Jay Weatherill and Colin Barnett. The meetings canvassed a number of issues, including reforms to the Federation, the current infrastructure deficit and how to better deliver healthcare and education services. Read the leaders’ retreat communiqué here.Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor Environment Spokesperson Mark Butler announced an ambitious plan for a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, ahead of the Labor Party National Conference this weekend in Melbourne. The policy represents a departure from recent bipartisan changes to lower the Renewable Energy Target to 33,000 GWh, or 23.5 per cent by 2020, which passed the Senate in June. See media release here.

Addressing the Party Conference on Friday morning, Mr Shorten encountered hostility from some members of the audience for earlier declaring he would support the Government’s controversial boat turn back policy. Mr Shorten also used the speech to declare his support for an Australian Republic, declaring the Party was ready to govern and challenging the Government to bring on an election. Read the speech in full here (subscription service).

Meanwhile, the Federal Government faces a by-election in the Perth seat of Canning following the death of  Don Randall from a heart attack on Tuesday. Parliamentary colleagues described him as a hardworking and dedicated local member. Mr Randall was first elected to the seat of Swan in 1996, but lost the seat at the 1998 election. He was elected to Canning in 2001.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane will provide an explanation of the ‘nature and scope’ of changes to the national electricity market rules in the $2.5 billion legal dispute between the Australian Energy Regulator and three NSW state-owned electricity distribution firms; Ausgrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy. However, the Minister has pledged not to reflect on the merits of the case or support higher electricity prices for NSW.

Australian Greens Senator for South Australia, Penny Wright, announced she would be stepping down from the Senate due to illness in her family. Senator Wright was elected at the 2010 Federal Election and took her seat in the Senate in July 2011. A competitive preselection is expected in coming weeks as the Greens fill the casual vacancy created by Senator Wright’s departure.

SA Parliament will continue with Estimates before regular sitting resumes for Wednesday and Thursday.


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