GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

29 January 2016

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull batted away calls on Australia Day for another referendum to be held on the Republic, arguing it was not a priority of his Government. While the Prime Minister reiterated his personal desire to see an Australian head of state, Mr Turnbull said any move to do so should only occur after Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten fired the first major policy shot of the election year this week, announcing Labor’s education package, Your Child Our Future. The policy outlines an additional $4.5 billion across school years 2018 and 2019, and total expenditure of $37.3 billion over the decade, with the package to focus on more individual attention for students, better teacher training and more support for students with special learning needs. Mr Shorten also pledged to return Australia to the top 5 countries in reading, maths and science by 2025. See the Opposition Leader’s media release here.

Meanwhile, Minister for Employment Senator Michaelia Cash confirmed the Government will consult with unions and industry on workplace relations reform, with a proposed reform package to be taken to the next election. Minister Cash said the Government will strongly argue the case for reform, and guaranteed to maintain a strong safety net for workers.

A Galaxy Poll has revealed primary support for PUP Leader Clive Palmer has dropped to 2 per cent in his electorate of Fairfax, making it a likely gain for the Government at the election. Mr Palmer narrowly won the seat on preferences in 2013, with a primary vote of 26.5 per cent. The poll followed announcement of Mr Palmer’s company Queensland Nickel sacking 237 workers at its Yabulu refinery near Townsville.

NSW Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard has announced historic privatisation of the State’s public housing, promising a $22 billion building boom will follow. The Minister said ageing housing stock will be rebuilt by private developers with a 30:70 public-private ratio, and there will be greater use of private rental subsidies for families in crisis in an attempt to tackle the waiting list. See the Minister’s media release here, and read more in the SMH coverage here (subscription service).

Acting Secretary of the NSW branch of the National Union of Workers Martin Cartwright has written to NSW Labor Party Acting General Secretary Kaila Murnain to advise the Union will be disaffiliating from the Party, effective immediately. Mr Cartwright said the Union needed to address a number of governance issues arising from the Royal Commission into Union Corruption and would seek to re-affiliate with the Party in due course.

In Victoria, negotiations between the Government and Opposition on the sale of the Port of Melbourne have stalled amid changes to the anti-corruption provisions of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). Opposition Leader Matthew Guy – who claims the changes could subject discussions to a future IBAC investigation – is insisting all negotiations be conducted in writing, which will likely delay the matter further. Read The Age coverage here (subscription service).

Federal Parliament returns next week. 

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