GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

28 August 2015

With Members of Parliament returning to their electorates this week, shifting the spotlight away from Canberra, Prime Minister Tony Abbott spent the week in Queensland’s Torres Strait, part of his commitment to spend time each year in an indigenous community. Other senior parliamentarians including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese crossed the country to Perth where campaigning is in full-swing in the Perth seat of Canning ahead of the September by-election.

The latest Newspoll was released on Tuesday, prompting Prime Minister Abbott to quickly dismiss the results which revealed support for the Coalition is at its lowest level since March. According to the poll, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is preferred Prime Minister and Labor is ahead of the Government 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has thrown his support behind a new push for an Australian republic, joining Labor’s Katy Gallagher as co-chair of a bipartisan parliamentary group to build support for constitutional change. The move was announced during a speech at the National Press Club by the new Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, Peter FitzSimons. Mr Hockey’s support for a republic attracted mixed reviews from colleagues, some of whom indicated the Government had other priorities. See Sydney Morning Herald coverage here (subscription only).

On Monday it emerged that the cost of building the National Broadband Network will be $15 billion more than expected, with NBN chief executive Bill Morrow indicating $26.5 billion worth of debt raising would be required to bridge the gap between the cost of the project and the Government’s spending cap of $29.5 billion.

The National Reform Summit was held in Sydney on Wednesday, bringing together business, unions, welfare and community groups to discuss economic reform. Delegates focused on options for tax reform while avoiding the contentious policy areas of industrial relations and climate change. The draft statement from the summit is available here.Read the Australian Financial Review’s coverage here  (subscription service).

Senator Nick Xenophon is expected to propel South Australia into the limelight at the next federal election with his plan to field candidates in all of the state’s 11 electorates. The popular independent has formed his own party – the Nick Xenophon Team – and is vowing to target the Coalition in lower house seats if they break a commitment to build submarines in South Australia. Read more from the ABC here.

Disgruntled shareholders of a company embroiled in an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry have dropped legal action against former Australian Water Holdings chairman, Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos. Read the Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage here (subscription service).

Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon has deferred the decision about his future as head of the trade union Royal Commission until Monday, after the ACTU called for a postponement.

The Victorian Parliament sits next week.

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