GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

23 October 2015

Prime Minister Turnbull this week released the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry (FSI), accompanied by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer. In accepting the Inquiry’s recommendations, the Government also included six additional measures, in the areas of card surcharging, superannuation, innovation, financial advisers and regulators, life insurance and banks. See GRACosway’s summary from earlier in the week here, and the joint ministerial media release here.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb this week announced that the Government had reached agreement with the Labor Opposition on the supportive legislation for the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). Labor has agreed to back the FTA on the assurance that Chinese firms seeking to employ workers on a 457 visa will have to comply with a number of restrictions. The move has been met with strong condemnation by the unions. See Minister Robb’s release here.

On Friday afternoon, Tony Nutt was unanimously elected as the Federal Director of the Liberal Party. Nutt replaces Brian Loughnane, who announced his resignation in the wake of September’s leadership change. Nutt will finalise his commitments as the Director of the NSW Liberal Party before taking up his new position. See the Liberal Party’s release here.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten outlined his Six Guiding Principles to Embrace the Sharing Economy, in which he calls for a ‘tailored, light-touch’ approach to regulation. Mr Shorten extended an invitation to work with the Government to advance the principles, saying Australia needed to strike the right balance between supporting innovation and protecting the community. See Mr Shorten’s release here.

In concerning news for the Opposition, the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll suggests Labor’s primary vote has fallen to 30 per cent nationally, as voters return to the Coalition following Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as Prime Minister. The Coalition’s fortunes have reversed most stunningly in the Opposition Leader’s home state of Victoria, where the Government’s primary vote has risen by 11 points since the leadership change.

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey gave his valedictory speech in Parliament on Thursday, in front of family and supporters, including NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejilklian and former Defence Minister and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson.  The speech marked an end to his 19-year parliamentary career and comes ahead of his formal resignation as the Member for North Sydney, which will trigger a by-election for the seat at a date to be confirmed.

The NSW Government has release the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report Fit for the Future, on the future viability of the State’s local councils. The report concludes that nearly two-thirds of NSW councils are not financially ‘fit for the future’ and supports the Government’s agenda of council amalgamations. Councils now have 30 days to provide feedback before the Government will issue its response to the report. See the Premier’s media release here.
The NSW, Queensland, SA, WA, ACT, NT and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.

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