GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

9 October 2015

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb this week welcomed the conclusion of negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, saying it will lead to greater trade and investment opportunities for all Australians, while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described it as “a new era of economic growth and opportunity”. The TPP will require some legislative changes, with the Labor Opposition welcoming the conclusion of negotiations and calling for the text of the agreement to be made public. Trade within the member nations made up one third of Australia’s exports in 2014, and totalled more than $109 billion. The 12 member nations include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. See the Prime Minister’s statement here.

In a speech to the Queensland Media Club, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unveiled Federal Labor’s $10 billion Infrastructure Plan that it will take to the next election. Dubbed the ‘concrete bank’, the policy would see Infrastructure Australia become an active participant in driving private sector investment in new projects. Shorten outlined key projects a future Labor government would commit to funding, including airport rail to the second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek. While Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss criticised the speech as ‘policy on the run’, Treasurer Scott Morrison said he was open to looking at the proposal. Read Mr Shorten’s speech in full here.

Former Newcastle lord mayor and developer Jeff McCloy has lost his High Court bid to overturn a NSW  law banning developers from making political donations. McCloy’s lawyers had argued the law was unconstitutional as it breached the implied freedom of communication. The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption still faces a second challenge before it can release its report into corruption in the State’s electoral system.

Liberal Party Federal Director Brian Loughnane announced his intention to retire from his position in the new year, and is rumoured to be replaced by NSW Liberal State Director Tony Nutt. Mr Loughnane is the husband of former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, and was under increasing pressure to step aside. Loughnane has been in the role since 2003.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Government will legalise access to locally manufactured medicinal cannabis products, beginning with children with severe epilepsy from 2017. This follows the tabling of a Victorian Law Reform Report into medical cannabis. The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources will issue licences to local producers in a trial phase. See media release here.

Federal, NSW, Queensland, SA, WA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.

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