GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
In more positive news for the Government, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.1 per cent in the December 2016 quarter, growing to 2.4 per cent in the 12 months to December. The favourable result has averted the prospect of a second consecutive quarter of negative growth and reports greatest growth in the farming and mining industries. See media coverage here.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated his support for a phase-in plan to implement reduced penalty rates as ruled by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) last week. This follows comments from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who declared that the penalty rate cut is “the fight Labor was born for”, while Labor’s employment spokesperson Brendan O’Connor has indicated the Party intends to introduce a bill into Parliament to prevent the FWC decision from taking effect. while a recent poll by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) found that several regional Coalition-held seats could be in jeopardy if the issue is left unresolved before the next federal election. At a state level, Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy expressed his support for the changes to penalty rates, with Deputy Leader David Hodgett showing his support on the issue by saying he does not “have a concern with changes to penalty rates.” See the media coverage here.
The House of Representatives Economics Standing Committee commenced further public hearings with Australia’s major banks as part of the Federal Government’s review of the performance of Australia’s banking and financial system. Ongoing parliamentary scrutiny will seek to address consumer and business concerns and rebuff the Federal Opposition’s continued push for a Royal Commission into the banking sector. Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison indicated the Government will formerly respond to the Committee’s first report, which was handed down last November following the conclusion of the latest series of hearings and release of a final report from the Productivity Commission, which is due later this month. See media release: Turnbull Government welcomes ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of big four banks.
Federal Queensland MP George Christensen announced his decision to step down as Nationals Chief Whip in the lower house earlier this week, explaining that his “constant outspokenness was incompatible with the position in the long-term.” While previously alluding to the “hypothetical” option of joining One Nation, Mr Christensen has indicated he has no intention of leaving the National Party. See the media coverage here.
In Victoria, Speaker of the House Telmo Languiller and Deputy Speaker Don Nardella have both resigned following alleged violation of the parliamentary entitlements system for each claiming a second-residence allowance for beachside homes outside their electorates. In response to the revelations, Premier Daniel Andrews indicated that a review into the State’s entitlements system will be led by Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings and leave “no room for interpretation”. Despite insistence from both Premier Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Mr Nardella has so far refused to pay back the $110,000 claimed in expenses; Mr Languiller has agreed to pay back the $40,000 he claimed. In added pressure on the issue for the Government, Mr Guy has also confirmed he will request an investigation by the Victorian Ombudsman and additionally push for a separate Privileges Committee examination. See the media coverage here.
Former NSW Premier Mike Baird has become head of corporate and institutional banking at NAB in the role of chief customer officer. Prior to entering politics, Mr Baird spent 17 years in similar roles both in Australia and abroad and according to NAB chief executive officer Andrew Thorburn, is now returning to the industry with “invaluable experience in leading economic and financial reform to grow the economy”. See media coverage here.
The NSW, Victorian and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.