GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

13 March 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was lambasted this week for saying Indigenous Australians were making ‘lifestyle choices’ by living in remote communities.  Indigenous leaders said the comments were unhelpful, and called for a more thorough explanation.  Treasurer Joe Hockey was also criticised this week for his suggestion that superannuation could be accessed early to buy property.

Treasurer Hockey was also in the Federal Court to bring a defamation case against Fairfax Media over a series of articles published in the lead up to the May 2014 budget under the headline ‘Treasurer for sale’.

Senator Glenn Lazarus announced that he has quit the Palmer United Party and will now sit as an independent.  The decision leaves the Palmer United Party with one Senator in Dio Wang after Jacqui Lambie quit the party in November.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced that Dr Paul Grimes is no longer Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.  Deputy Secretary Phillip Glyde will continue to act as Secretary until a replacement is announced.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne continues his push to get the government’s controversial higher education reforms through the Senate, with calls from the research community, university sector, and business groups to separate out the research funding component in case the Senate blocks the legislation.

Assistant Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced changes to the VET FEE-HELP program to crack down on training providers, including banning providers offering inducements or incentives to students to sign up to courses.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison indicated in an interview that the government will look to adopt a single tapered childcare rebate in line with recommendations from the Productivity Commission.

Long-time Queensland Labor Senator and former Minister for Agriculture Joseph Ludwig announced that he will not recontest the next election.

In the latest Newspoll, Labor leads the Coalition 55 to 45 in the two-party-preferred vote.

Federal, Victoria, SA, WA, ACT and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.

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