GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

2 October 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his economic ministry team met with 12 industry and union representatives in Canberra on Thursday at the reconvened Economic Leaders’ Summit. The three hour summit was described as a listening exercise for the new Ministry to provide input into the Government’s reform agenda. There was support for a review of  superannuation and capital gains tax concessions as part of the Government’s ongoing tax white paper.

Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley has been given the additional portfolio responsibility of Aged Care. Minister Ley said her  policy priorities will be to ensure that older Australians can live in their homes for as long as possible and that aged health care resources are directed in the most efficient possible manner. Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt will take on the additional role of Minister Assisting the Minister for Aged Care. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge has also been sworn in as Assistant Minister for Social Services and will likely take responsibility for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). See media release here and current Ministry list here.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham confirmed the Government will abandon the controversial tertiary education reforms proposed by his predecessor Christopher Pyne, which would have allowed universities to set their own fee structures from 2016 and reduced funding per student. Minister Birmingham said the Government had conceded  the reforms would not pass the Senate in their current form, but that the Government remained committed improving the current funding system.

Minister for Communication Senator Mitch Fifield this week described Australia’s media laws as “horse-and-buggy legislation in the 21st century”, and hinted the Government may examine ownership laws that currently limit further industry consolidation. He said he will seek ‘broad consensus’ from industry, rather than “unanimity”, for media law reforms. Also under consideration will be the number of sporting matches reserved for free-to-air television.

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance announced a $200 million upgrade for Sydney’s Circular Quay wharves and the abolition of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA), whose responsibilities will be consolidated into other government agencies. The works will be funded from the divestment of SHFA assets, which include a number of hotel and commercial office buildings in city. See media release here.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the Territory will become the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce regulations that will allow  ridesharing services to operate legally from 30 October 2015. The 2015 Taxi Industry Innovation Reforms will be introduced in two steps, and will apply minimum safety standards for all ridesharing vehicles and reductions in taxi licence fees. The Government has, so far, not announced any form of compensation for the more than 200 ACT taxi plate owners. See a summary and timeline of the reforms here.

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