GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up
4 December 2015
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull returned from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this week as parliamentary sittings concluded for the year. The Opposition continued its prosecution of Special Minister of State Mal Brough, calling on him to stand aside, while former Abbott Government minister Queensland Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane announced his surprise defection to the National Party in what is seen as a tactic to return to the frontbench. Despite a rocky final sitting week for the Government, it leaves Canberra for the year in a far better position than it started.
At the Paris Conference, the Prime Minister confirmed Australia would ratify the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, whilst also reallocating $1billion from Australia’s aid budget over five years to help developing countries fight climate change. However, Australia came under fire for failing to sign the pledge to cut fossil fuel subsidies, expressing concern at the International Monetary Fund’s definition of what constitutes a subsidy.
In a win for the Government, Treasurer Scott Morrison secured the passage of the Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015, having reached agreement with the Greens in the Senate on two key amendments. The laws will apply from 1 January 2016, and will now include private companies with revenues in excess of $200 million and require multinationals to file General Purpose Financial Statements with the Tax Commissioner. See Treasurer’s media release here.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and Attorney General George Brandis announced the Government had also secured the passage of its controversial Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015, with the support of the Opposition. The new laws will see Australians with dual citizenship involved in terrorist activities abroad or convicted of terrorism offences in Australia stripped of their citizenship.
The Prime Minister confirmed on Friday that former Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson will lead the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, while also confirming Secretary of the Department of Education and Training Lisa Paul will be stepping down in February. A decision on her replacement is yet to be made.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten concluded his ‘year of big ideas’ by unveiling a number of innovation policies, including a $16 million Plan to Accelerate Regional Innovation, to fund targeted partnerships between universities and technology based accelerators, and industry tax concessions through an Australian Angel Investment Scheme. See Mr Shorten’s media release on Regional Accelerators here and Tax Incentives here.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed she will ask the Federal Government to overrule new laws which attempt to re-regulate the State’s $2 billion sugar industry, after the State Government was unable to defeat the bill in the Parliament. Katter’s Australian Party leader Robbie Katter said the new laws were intended to give growers a say in the marketing of sugar to international customers.
Also in Queensland, Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller announced on Friday she had tendered her resignation from Cabinet to Premier Palaszczuk after being stripped of her ministry, following an ethics report which found her guilty of behaviour unbecoming of a minister of the Crown.
The Victorian and SA parliament sit next week.