GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

11 September 2015

This week marked two years since the Abbott Government was elected, with the latest Newspoll showing the Coalition’s primary vote is 6.6 points lower than on Election Day in September 2013. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten remains preferred Prime Minister 41 points to Mr Abbott’s 37.

The Federal Government’s response to the Syrian conflict came to the fore this week.Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was moved by images of a Syrian toddler who drowned as his family attempted to reach Greece by boat, initially announcing Australia would increase the number of refugees accepted from Syria within the current humanitarian intake. The PM later announced an additional 12,000 places for Syrian refugees and funding for refugee agencies, while confirming Australia would extend air strikes from Iraq into Syria. The announcement followed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s talks with the UNHCR in Geneva.

Treasurer Joe Hockey used the annual G20 summit of finance ministers and central bank governors to highlight multinational corporate tax avoidance, indicating the Federal Government will introduce legislation to address the issue in the next fortnight. Read The Australian’s coverage here (subscription service).

Debate over the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) continues, with the Business Council of Australia and the Minerals Council starting an advertising campaign in support of the agreement and the Prime Minister challenging the Opposition Leader to support a parliamentary motion backing the deal. Unions continue to campaign against the ChAFTA in the WA seat of Canning in an attempt to influence the result of the September 19 by-election.

The Opposition’s Senate motion to remove Justice Dyson Heydon as head of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was defeated this week, evenly splitting the Upper House with 34 votes each way.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced former Queensland Labor state secretary Cameron Milner as his new chief of staff, replacing Ken Macpherson who resigned for health reasons two months ago. Milner will be based in Canberra, commencing in the next fortnight.

Former Howard government minister Larry Anthony is set to be elected as The Nationals’ federal president at the Party’s conference in Canberra this weekend. Issues up for debate include trade policy, privatisation and agriculture.

The Federal Parliament will sit next week, along with every state and territory parliament, except South Australia.

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