GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

20 November 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull continued his international engagements this week, attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya at the weekend, before jetting to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila on Wednesday, where security dominated the agenda after the recent terror attacks in Paris and Lebanon. In a statement following the attacks in Paris over the weekend, the Prime Minister sought to reassure Australians and maintained his commitment to finding a political solution rather than a military invasion.

At home on Thursday, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced he would not authorise the acquisition of S. Kidman and Co. Limited by foreign buyers, accepting the Foreign Investment Review Board’s determination that “in its current form”, it was not in the national interest. Kidman covers approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land mass – or 2.5 per cent of all agricultural land – and includes the Anna Creek pastoral lease located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia. According to the Treasurer’s statement, the WPA weapons testing range plays a sensitive role in national defence. See the Treasurer’s statement here.

Treasurer Morrison also announced the Federal Government will review laws that allow the sale of strategic state assets to foreign companies without federal scrutiny, after independent senator Nick Xenophon called for an inquiry into the sale of the Port of Darwin to Chinese firm Landbridge. Mr Morrison reiterated that the Port of Darwin decision had been made solely by the Northern Territory Government.

Meanwhile, final bids for NSW poles and wires network operator TransGrid are due Monday, with the successful bidder likely to be announced later in the week. The long-term lease is expected to add as much as $9 billion to the State’s coffers.    Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne announced the appointment of Bill Ferris AC as Chair of Innovation Australia (IA). IA is an independent statutory body established to assist with the administration of the Federal Government’s industry innovation agenda.

The NSW Government released its new business case for the WestConnex Motorway on Friday, showing construction costs had blown out by a further $1.4 billion, with the final cost now expected to be $16.8 billion. According to the business case, much of the cost is attributable to new additions to the motorway and accelerated construction costs. Read more in the SMH’s coverage here (subscription service).

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles announced his government has selected Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd to construct and operate the North East Gas Interconnector (NEGI) between Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, and Mount Isa in Queensland. Construction of the pipeline will be completed by 2018. See media release: NT announces Jemena to build gas pipeline to east coast


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