GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

20 February 2015

Pre-budget speculation lifted a notch this week with media reports suggesting the Government was looking at including the family home in the pension assets test to drive savings.  Social Services Minister Scott Morrison hosed down the suggestion but said a debate was needed with the release of the Intergenerational Report in coming weeks.  Today, Minister Morrison released the long-awaited Productivity Commission report into childcare and early childhood learning which recommended combining existing payments into a single child-based subsidy, stronger means testing, and including nannies as an eligible service.  The report’s recommendations will inform the Government’s families’ policy due to be released in coming months.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will deliver a major speech on national security to the Parliament on Monday where he is expected to outline a new national security package, including a policy of revoking Australian citizenship from dual nationals involved in terrorist activities.  The House of Representatives will also debate the Government’s controversial proposal to require telecommunications companies to keep metadata for two years, a regime that will potentially cost $400 million per annum.

Late last Friday, PM Abbott replaced “Father of the House” Phillip Ruddock as Chief Government Whip with Scott Buchholz in a move that sparked a mixed reaction from his colleagues.  Andrew Nikolic will become a Deputy Whip.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews today announced the acquisition strategy for theFuture Submarine Program revealing that France, Germany and Japan will be invited to participate in a competitive evaluation process, expected to take 10 months.  The Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) will be able to compete if it partners with a company from one of the three countries.  See the media release here.

Meanwhile, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and SA Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton Smith have launched a 10-year strategy for the local defence sector.  See here.

Following the declaration of all seats in Queensland last week, Labor under Annastacia Palaszczuk has formed government and 14 new ministers have been sworn in.  See GRACosway’s substantive brief on the new Queensland Government here with the full ministry list and machinery of government changes.

QLD Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg today announced his Shadow Cabinet.  For the full listing see here.

In NSW, Labor Leader Luke Foley released the Opposition’s infrastructure planahead of the March election, detailing projects to be funded without the leasing of state electricity assets.

Also in NSW, barrister Alister Henskens will contest the seat of Ku-ring-gai for the Liberal Party at the March election, following former Premier Barry O’Farrell’s decision to retire.

In staffing changes, Transport for NSW Director General Dave Stewart has resigned to head the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Federal (including Senate Estimates), VIC, SA, WA and NT parliaments sit next week.

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