GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

13 February 2015

After surviving Monday’s party room spill motion, 61 votes to 39, Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed to do better, pledging that ‘good government starts today’.  He said that last year’s budget was ‘bold and ambitious’ and that from now on he would not ‘buy fights with the Senate’ that the Government can’t win.  Abbott also made changes aimed at appeasing his colleagues, including that future mid-to-low level ministerial staff appointments would no longer be vetted by the Prime Minister’s office and that Cabinet submissions would no longer be pre-screened.

There is confusion in defence circles this week after South Australian Liberal Senator Sean Edwards said that PM Abbott assured him before Monday’s party room vote that the future submarine project would be decided by competitive open tender, ensuring Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) would have the opportunity to participate.  Defence Minister Kevin Andrews later clarified that it would be a ‘competitive evaluation process’, a term that has not been defined by the government.  Similarly the status of the government’s GP co-payment policy is ambiguous after frontbenchers contradicted one another in media interviews this week over whether it had been scrapped or is still government policy.

The Prime Minister released the annual Closing the Gap report into Indigenous disadvantage this week, revealing that there had been some improvements but on the whole the failures in the report were ‘profoundly disappointing’.

In a moment of unity during a politically volatile week, the Parliament passed a motion moved by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and seconded by her Shadow, Tanya Plibersek, calling for a stay of execution in the cases of convicted Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, due to be shot in Indonesia in the coming weeks.  Read about the parliamentarians’ speeches here.

The first Newspoll for 2015 released on Monday has the Labor Opposition leading the Coalition 57:43 in the 2PP vote.

Former Labor Minister Alan Griffin has announced that he will not contest his Melbourne seat of Bruce at the next federal election.

In Queensland, the Electoral Commission has declared results in 88 out of 89 districts.  Labor has 44 seats and with support of Independent MP Peter Wellington is poised to claim victory.  It is anticipated that the Governor will invite Annastacia Palaszczuk to Government House early next week to form government.  Meanwhile, Lawrence Springborg has been elected the new leader of the LNP.

With three weeks until the NSW Government enters caretaker mode ahead of the March 28 election, a Fairfax Ipsos poll published this week shows the Liberal-National Coalition Government leads the Labor Opposition 56:44 in the 2PP vote.

WA, ACT and NT parliaments sit next week.

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