GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up
22 April 2016
Australians will almost certainly head to the polls for a double dissolution election on 2 July, after the Senate narrowly defeated the Government’s legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), 36 votes to 34. The Prime Minister has confirmed that he will advise the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of parliament and call an election for 2 July after the Federal Budget is handed down on 3 May and appropriations bills are subsequently passed. PM Turnbull has until 11 May to request a double dissolution election for 2 July. The Coalition entered the week trailing Labor in the latest Newspoll, 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.
The Opposition criticised the Government for failing to present further legislation for debate during this week’s parliamentary sitting, after MPs and senators were especially recalled to Canberra to consider the Government’s two industrial relations bills. Only the ABCC legislation was brought forward for debate and a vote, while the Registered Organisations bill was not considered by the Parliament. Both houses of parliament adjourned on Tuesday – after passing legislation to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal – and will not sit again until Budget week.
The Government kicked off its unofficial election campaign by announcing a $40 billion plan to build 42 surface warships in Adelaide and Perth, generating 2500 long-term jobs to boost the nation’s naval shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding is shaping up to be a key election issue in South Australia, where independent senator Nick Xenophon criticised the Government’s plan, saying it will add little value to the state’s economy. Further announcements about the successful bidder for Australia’s new fleet of submarines are expected to be made next week, following meetings of the cabinet’s National Security Committee this week. See the Government’s media release here and coverage by the Australian Financial Review here (subscription service).
While the Opposition continued to call for a Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services sector, the Government announced a $127.7 million reform package for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Under the changes, ASIC will be given greater powers through improved data analytics and increased surveillance capabilities. In addition, ASIC’s costs will be recovered from the industry sectors it regulates from 2017-18, as recommended in the Financial System Inquiry. See the Treasurer’s media release here. The Australian Bankers’ Association responded to the Government’s moves by announcing its own review of commissions paid to sales staff, and pledging to improve protections for whistle-blowers. See coverage by The Australian here (subscription service).
Prime Minister Turnbull launched the Government’s $230 million Cyber Security Strategy in Sydney on Thursday, appointing Children’s eSafety Commissioner Alistair MacGibbon as his special adviser on cyber security matters. The plan includes measures to support the growth of Australian cyber security businesses and foster stronger partnerships between government, academics and the private sector on cyber security. A Cyber Ambassador will also be appointed, to represent Australia on cyber issues at an international level. See the Prime Minister’s media release here and coverage by The Australian here (subscription service).
No parliaments sit next week however the NSW Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian, this week confirmed she would hand down the state’s budget on 21 June.