GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up
It was another tough week for the Government at the polls, with the latest Newspoll showing dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister has reached an all-time high, and the two-party-preferred vote remains unchanged at 50-50. The Government’s woes were further compounded by the release of journalist Niki Savva’s book examining the demise of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership, which dominated much of the week’s headlines.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a stern warning to non-Government senators on Friday to pass stalled industrial relations legislation or risk the prospect of a double dissolution. The Prime Minister continued to leave the option of dissolving both houses on the table however, saying a double dissolution would not even be talked about if the Senate was not frustrating the Government’s efforts to clean up the union movement.
The Prime Minister also announced on Friday that the Federal Government will take the lead role in constructing the high-speed Western Sydney rail link between the city and Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek, while outlining his vision of ‘30 minute cities’ – where people can reach any point in their metropolis within 30 minutes. The NSW Government also announced it has commissioned a formal study into extending its $10 billion Sydney Metro line out from Bankstown to Liverpool and possibly on to Badgerys Creek. Read more in The Australian’s coverage here (subscription service).
Conflict over hospital funding escalated this week, with Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy stating the cuts to Commonwealth funding will mean longer waiting times for elective surgery. Meanwhile, Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the Victorian Government had falsely inflated its hospital activity to receive more Commonwealth funding after being alerted to the situation by the Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool. See Minister Ley’s statement here and Minister Hennessy’s statement here.
Deputy Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs James Paterson has been appointed to thecasual Senate vacancy left by the retirement of Michael Ronaldson in a joint sitting of the Victorian houses of parliament this week. Mr Paterson will now head to Canberra and be sworn in as a Liberal Party Senator on Tuesday.
Former Independent Member for New England Tony Windsor has confirmed he will contest the seat of New England against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at the upcoming election, citing dissatisfaction at the Government’s approval of Shenhua Watermark mine near the Liverpool Plains and the loss of a defence jobs in Tamworth for his desire to return to parliament. Meanwhile, Liberal NationalMember for Brisbane Teresa Gambaro announced she will not be contesting at the next election, generating speculation that former Premier Campbell Newman may put up his hand to contest the marginal seat.
The Prime Minister has appointed Dr Michele BrunigesAM as Secretary of the Department of Education and Training. Dr Bruniges is currently the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education and will commence her five year term at the Commonwealth Department in April 2016. See announcement here.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas welcomed the passage of legislation this week which allows for the sale of the Port of Melbourne after the Government reached agreement with the Opposition on the contentious issue of compensation clauses. The Treasurer said he hopes the Port will fetch ‘at least’ $5.3 billion and not be subject to any foreign investment restrictions. See the Treasurer’s media release here.
In NSW, Ryan Park has been promoted to Shadow Treasurer in a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle prompted by the decision of current Deputy Labor LeaderLinda Burney to run for the federal seat of Barton. Former Shadow Treasurer Michael Daley has been appointed to the portfolios of Planning and Infrastructure as well as Gaming and Racing, while Member for Lakemba Jihad Dib has been elevated to Shadow Cabinet to oversee the Education portfolio. Several other first term MPs also received promotions. Read more in the SMH coverage here (subscription service).
Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to rule out calling an early election after the resignation of Cairns MP Rob Pyne from the ALP, leaving the Government with an equal number of seats as the Opposition. Mr Pyne moved to the crossbench after expressing disappointment at the Government’s neglect of his electorate and dismay at the ‘argy bargy’ of politics.
The Federal, NSW, Queensland, West Australian, Northern Territory and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.