GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

18 December 2015

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull landed in Tokyo Friday morning ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to advance bilateral relations and discuss Australia’s innovation agenda. Whilst there, Mr Turnbull will also deliver a lunchtime address to business leaders and visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation where he will meet the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann released the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) on Tuesday, which offered a sober assessment of the nation’s finances. The statement revises down both growth and revenue forecasts and sees a further $28 billion added to budget deficits across the four year forward estimates. The statement confirms the Government has abandoned its commitment to return the budget to a surplus of 1% of GDP by 2023-24, now promising to do so “as soon as possible”. See the Treasurer’s media release here, MYEFO here and GRACosway’s brief from earlier in the week here.

Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane’s bid to join the Nationals Party Room has been blocked by the State Executive of the Queensland division of the Liberal National Party, despite winning the support of his local branch. Mr Macfarlane announced he will consider his future over the Christmas break, with many anticipating he will not contest the next election having angered many within the Liberal Party. Meanwhile, Victorian Senator Michael Ronaldson, who lost his frontbench position in the Turnbull reshuffle, has announced he will resign from the Senate effective as soon as his replacement is determined.

The Board of the ABC has confirmed Michelle Guthrie as the next ABC Managing Director, replacing Mark Scott who is due to retire in July 2016. Ms Guthrie has held senior roles at FOXTEL, BSkyB in the United Kingdom and News Corp subsidiary Star, and becomes the broadcaster’s first female managing director.

NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the Government will proceed with forced council amalgamations, with each council to have at least 150,000 ratepayers. Under the existing Local Government Act, public hearings by the Boundaries Commission are required which may take up to six months and could result in the delay of council elections, due in September next year. The Government will amend the Local Government Act in the new year to give the Minister for Local Government the power to appoint financial controllers to non-performing councils deemed at high financial risk.

Also in NSW, on Thursday Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance released the Government’s response to the Point to Point Transport review, which focused on taxi, hire car and ridesharing services. NSW becomes the second jurisdiction to legalise Uber, effective  Friday 18 December. The the government has immediated repealed more than 50 taxi and hire car regulations and will introduce a new industry Commissioner and a $250 million industry adjustment package for taxi and hire car licence plate owners. See the Minister’s media release here and the website here.
This is the last issue of GRACosway’s Weekly Policy Wrap Up for 2015. We will return in late January, in what will be a busy year for Australian politics. Federal Parliament returns on 2 February ahead of an election later in the year, while both the Northern Territory (27 August) and the ACT (15 October) face territory elections. We wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.

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