GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up
22 January 2016
Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull made a surprise visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan this week, ahead of his meeting with President Obama in Washington on Tuesday. The two leaders discussed bilateral trade and defence relations, and committed to advancing negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. The Prime Minister also announced the establishment of an annual Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue, to be jointly convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
Mr Turnbull returns to growing instability within his home division of the NSW Liberal Party, as preselection opened for the Party’s 22 House of Representative and two Senate seats on 19 January. A number of high profile parliamentarians are said to be facing challenges, including Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and father of the House Phillip Ruddock.
On a positive note for the Government, Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos has reportedly been cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of allegations of corruption, relating to his time as Chair of Australian Water Holdings. Read more in The Australian coverage here (subscription service).
Following last year’s controversy over the sale of Darwin Port to the Chinese Landbridge Group, Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed the Government will seek to remove the ‘private company exemption’ from the Foreign Investment Review Board’s examination of state-owned critical infrastructure. This may frustrate the Victorian Government’s current sale process for the Port of Melbourne, which they hope to fetch up to $7 billion for.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill unveiled a revamped Cabinet on Tuesday, featuring two new ministers and a number of significant changes in portfolio responsibilities. Premier Weatherill said the reshuffle is designed to better apportion the workload and responsibility for key ministers while requiring other members of his team to “step up”. The announcement follows the resignations of Gail Gago and Tony Piccolo from the Ministry last week. See GRACosway’s briefing note from earlier in the week here.