GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

5 December 2014:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott started the final parliamentary sitting week for the year with a lengthy media conference where he declared that ‘last week was a bit of a ragged week for the Government’.  Announcing that the Government would not proceed with all proposed changes to Defence Force pay – the PM then took questions for 45 minutes and stressed that 2014 had been a year of achievement for the Government.

The Senate voted down the Government’s proposed changes to deregulate higher education on Tuesday.  Education Minister Christopher Pyne offered $3.5 billion worth of concessions, out of a total $4 billion in expected savings, in his bid to secure crossbench support.  Following the defeat, Minister Pyne introduced a new bill to deregulate the sector in the House of Representatives the following morning, promising to try again next year.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had more luck in securing Senate crossbench support this week to overhaul migration laws.  The changes re-introduce temporary protection visas, and as a concession to secure crossbench support, increase the humanitarian intake by 7500 places over four years.  The Senate sat into the early hours of Friday morning to pass the bill, before the House of Representatives convened Friday morning to rubber stamp the changes.  With that final act, Federal Parliament has now risen and will resume on Monday 9 February 2015.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday that the Government will announce its Tax White Paper next week.  It is also expected that John Fraser will be announced shortly as the next Treasury Secretary to replace Martin Parkinson.

Both the PM and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten appeared on the ABC 7.30 program this week for one-on-one interviews.  Read the transcripts here and here.

Attorney-General George Brandis announced that Geoffrey Nettle QC will become the next Justice of the High Court of Australia, replacing Susan Crennan AC when she retires in February 2015.

In the latest Newspoll, Labor leads the Coalition 54 to 46 in the two-party-preferred vote.

Victorians have a new Premier in Daniel Andrews after Labor was victorious at last Saturday’s state election.  Andrews and his 22 member cabinet have now been sworn in.  For the full ministry list, further department announcements, and profiles of Andrews and new Liberal leader Matthew Guy, see GRACosway’s separate brief here and Monday’s final election newsletter here.

In the ACT, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has announced that she will resign her post next Wednesday in order to contest the upcoming Senate vacancy created by ACT Senator Kate Lundy’s decision not to contest the next Senate election.  Ms Gallagher has endorsed Deputy ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr as her replacement.

No parliaments sit next week.

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