GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

13 November 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull jetted out of Australia on Thursday with a packed international agenda, leaving behind the Duke and Duchess of Cornwell. Mr Turnbull first met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo before continuing onto Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. He will attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya, Turkey, at the weekend and attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders in Manila on Wednesday.

While the GST continues to dominate the news headlines at home, the latest Newspoll reveals support for the Government has reached its highest level since the 2013 election, with a two-party preferred vote of 53 per cent. In further good news for the Government, Australia’s jobless rate fell to 5.9 per cent in October, down from 6.2, with the economy adding 58,600 jobs in the past month.

Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg released a consultation paper on the proposed design and operation of the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) on Monday, ahead of a meeting of international investors at the Northern Australia Investment Forum in Darwin this week. The forum was attended by representatives from some of the world’s largest agri-businesses, including JBS Wesley Batista and Wilmar International.

Minister Frydenberg also released on Friday six sites that may be appropriate for a future National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. Each site was assessed for technical, economic, social and environment impacts by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, along with an Independent Advisory Panel and Geoscience Australia. See the Minister’s media release here.

The Government this week voted down its own Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015, after the Opposition and cross bench MPs secured  amendments in the Senate . Under the amendments tax information of private family companies with turnover in excess of $100 million would have to be disclosed. The Bill will now be returned to the Senate.

Federal Labor Member for Wills Kelvin Thompson announced he will retire at the next election, unleashing a wave of speculation about who will replace him. To date venture capitalist Joshua Funder has confirmed his intention to seek preselection for the Victorian seat, once held by Bob Hawke. Thompson has held the seat since 1996 and served on the Labor front bench until losing his portfolio under Kevin Rudd.

The Baird Government in NSW has secured the passage of legislation that clarifies the powers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to initiate prosecutions, after accepting the Opposition’s amendments in the Upper House. Under the amended legislation, ICAC will be able to launch a prosecution only after it has received written agreement from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Read more in the SMH coverage here (subscription service).

Also in NSW, the Baird Government secured the passage of legislation that will extend Boxing Day trading for retailers across the State. The laws were passed with the support of the Christian Democrats with minor amendments, after both Labor and the Greens opposed the bill.

Meanwhile, Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle has confirmed he will seek a third term in council elections due late next year. If successful, Mr Doyle would be the first lord mayor to win three consecutive terms.

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