GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

8 April 2016

The latest Newspoll shows the Coalition has fallen behind the Labor Party for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as Prime Minister, trailing 49 per cent to Labor’s 51 on two-party preferred terms. The poll follows the Prime Minister’s unsuccessful proposal to grant the states and territories income taxing powers, which has proved deeply unpopular with the electorate with only 19 per cent of the electorate in support of the measure.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced a future Labor government will hold a Royal Commission into the nation’s financial sector following a series of scandals over conflicted financial advice and allegations of market manipulation. The inquiry will examine the extent of illegal and unethical behaviour in the sector, the industry’s culture and whether current financial regulations are adequate. Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister attacked the industry for what he described as an errant culture among some banks. Read more in The Australian here (subscription service).

Analysis from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office released this week shows the nominal value of the Higher Education Loan Program debt will reach $186 billion by 2026, prompting federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham to call for bright ideas to combat the rising cost of the scheme. The primary cause of the rise in debt has been the expansion of student numbers following the abolition of caps. See Minister’s release here.

The Commonwealth Grants Commission has issued its determination for the division of GST revenues for the 2016-17 financial year. Under the relativity recommendations and with consideration to their improved fiscal positions, NSW is set to lose $850 million in payments, the Northern Territory $182 million and Tasmania $57 million. Queensland will be allocated an additional $520 million due to falling commodity royalty receipts, while Victoria will receive an additional $248 million as a result of stronger than predicted population growth. Read the Commission’s Update Report here.

South Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne has expressed the Government’s disappointment at the placement of Arrium Steel into voluntary administration this week. While saying that the Government is limited in the support that it can offer Arrium, Minister Pyne has committed to working with South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis and creditors to secure the best result for the Whyalla steel mill workers. See Minister Pyne’s release here and Treasurer Koutsantonis’ release here.

Also in South Australia, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has lashed out at media reports the Federal Government is considering the possible division and sale of Adelaide-based submarine builder ASC for up to $1 billion. Reports suggest the submarine division will be sold to the successful bidder for the construction of the nation’s 12 new submarines, with the remaining warship division to be sold to a separate party.

Victorian and South Australian parliaments sit next week.

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