GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

29 July 2016


The final undecided Lower House seat of Herbert was claimed by Labor’s Cathy O’Toole on Tuesday evening after she gained a lead of 35 votes in the recount conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. Liberal National Party incumbent Ewen Jones is yet to concede, saying the full preference allocation will continue over the weekend and may still see him returned. In a 2GB radio interview on Thursday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the race in Herbert remained tight and signalled the Coalition may consider challenging the result on the basis of “allegations that people were not able to vote in the election”. Meanwhile, Senate results in Tasmania have been finalised, with former Coalition Minister Richard Colbeck losing his seat and Labor’s Lisa Singh defying the odds to be returned from the sixth position on Labor’s ticket with below-the-line votes.

Labor announced its new Shadow Ministry at the weekend, which emphasises the Party’s focus on the Education portfolio through the appointment of Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek as Shadow Education Minister, who will be supported by Andrew Giles and Terri Butler as Shadow Assistant Ministers for Schools and Universities respectively, and Kate Ellis as Vocational Education and Early Childhood Education spokesperson. At his press conference on Saturday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten referred to the appointments as Labor’s “education dream team” and said that education is “one of the sharpest contrasts” between Labor and the Coalition. Other notable appointments include Senator Penny Wong as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Queensland MP Jim Chalmers as Shadow Minister for Finance, and former ACT Chief Minister Senator Katy Gallagher as Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services. See the new Labor Shadow Ministry here.

Prime Minister Turnbull announced a Royal Commission into the Northern Territory’s child protection and youth detention systems this week after the ABC aired graphic footage of detainees being mistreated at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin. The Prime Minister said he was “shocked and appalled” by the vision and indicated that previous inquiries into the facility had “failed to identify the nature and extent” of the behaviour. The Federal Cabinet considered the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission on Thursday in its first meeting since the Federal Election; former Northern Territory Chief Justice the Hon Brian Martin AO QC has been appointed as Royal Commissioner. See the Prime Minister’s statement here.

The Prime Minister confirmed this afternoon that the Federal Government will not grant former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s request to be nominated as a candidate for the role of United Nations Secretary-General after Cabinet failed to reach consensus on the matter yesterday. Mr Turnbull said the decision was “no disparagement of Mr Rudd” but that he considered the former Labor PM is “not well-suited for this particular role”. Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said the decision showed Mr Turnbull had “shrunk in the office of Prime Minister” and argued the Government “should have put partisanship aside” and backed Mr Rudd’s bid.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has flagged the key savings measures he intends to pursue in negotiations with the Senate crossbench when Parliament returns on 30 August, including ending the payment of carbon tax compensation for new recipients of government benefits and diverting $1.4 billion in savings to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Minister Porter also wants to pass cuts to family tax benefits in order to fund the Government’s childcare package. A shake-up in the Government’s approach to welfare payments was also foreshadowed this week, with Minister Porter saying he intends to reduce the number of people receiving benefits by using data to identify and invest in those at risk of welfare dependency. See coverage by the AFR here.

In Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the State Government will deliver a $1 million investment in drone technology through a partnership with Boeing and its unmanned aircraft systems subsidiary Insitu Pacific. Premier Palaszczuk said the funding will create 100 new jobs in the aerospace industry and develop technology that can be used across a range of industries, including agriculture, mining, energy and telecommunications. See media release: Advance Queensland funding to advance remotely piloted aircraft tech in Queensland.

The ACT Parliament sits next week, with Budget Estimates scheduled to take place in NSW and SA.

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