GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new Ministry was sworn in on Thursday, which sees three new Cabinet members, five new ministers and 5 new assistant ministers (previously known as parliamentary secretaries). Barnaby Joyce was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister having been elected leader of the Nationals last week and retains his Agriculture and Water Resources portfolios. Minister for Rural HealthSenator Fiona Nash has been promoted into Cabinet following her election as Deputy Leader of the Nationals, adding the portfolios of Regional Development and Regional Communications. Victorian MP Alan Tudge replaces Stuart Robert as Minister for Human Services in the outer ministry. Read GRACosway’s briefing note from earlier in the week here.
Immigration and national security dominated talks between Mr Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who flew into Sydney on Friday. In a joint press conference following their meeting, Mr Turnbull announced that New Zealanders on special category visas who have lived in Australia for a minimum of five years would be eligible to apply for citizenship. Mr and Mrs Turnbull will host Mr Key and his wife, at their Point Piper residence, during their stay in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison called on his ministerial colleagues to stop spending in his address to the National Press Club on Thursday, as he revealed the Coalition had committed to more than $70 billion in new expenditure since forming government in 2013, having only outlined $80 billion in savings. The Treasurer said tax relief for those entering the second highest tax bracket would be a priority in the May budget, as the Government continues to consider changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount. Read the Treasurer’s speech in full here.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten flew into Perth this week as it was revealed that the third and final West Australian federal Labor MP, Gary Gray, will retire at the election, joining Alannah MacTiernan and Melissa Parke. In making his announcement, the former resources minister said he believed it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the first term opposition could win the election.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has conceded the sale of the Port of Melbourne will not proceed this year, if the Government cannot secure the passage of enabling legislation. Mr Pallas confirmed that the Government has sought more advice about selling the port without the support of Parliament, but said the process would take in excess of 15 months.
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission handed its Tentative Findings Report to the South Australian Government this week, which states a commercial-scale nuclear waste storage facility could generate up to $257 billion in economic benefit for the state. The Royal Commission was established in February 2015 to consider South Australia’s involvement in the four sectors of the nuclear industry; mining, enrichment, energy and storage. The South Australian Government will undertake a community engagement project between May and August, following the release of the final report by 6 May 2016. See Premier Jay Weatherill media release here, federal Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg release here, and the tentative findings here.
The Federal, NSW, Victorian, Queensland, SA and WA parliaments sit next week.