GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
Following extended debate last week, the Federal Government secured a company tax cut for businesses turning over less than $50 million annually. The Prime Minister said the package, which will cost the Government $5.2 billion over the next four years, will result in a “stimulus to growth and employment”. In exchange for supporting the cuts, the Nick Xenophon Team ensured there was commitment to additional payments for welfare recipients at an overall cost of $250 million to the Federal Budget along with an agreement to pursue a power affordability and reliability policy following a joint study by the Climate Change Authority and the Australian Energy Market Commission. See the media coverage here.
The effects of Tropical Cyclone Debbie continued to be felt this week, with the north Queensland city of Rockhampton experiencing severe flooding. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has faced criticism over a lack of preparation to minimise damage to low-lying parts of the city, such as via the use of levees – temporary levees have been secured yet do not protect the entire town. The Premier, however, indicated that the lack of protective infrastructure is due to the absence of federal funding to support construction. See the media coverage here.
A memorandum of understanding for the Afghanistan-Australia Development Partnership 2017-2020 was signed this week during a visit to Australia by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani. The Partnership establishes an economic infrastructure advisory facility to develop infrastructure in partnership with international development banks. Malcolm Turnbull also welcomed His Excellency the Honourable Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru, to Australia this week to host discussions around trade, investment and development.
Family First Senator Bob Day’s election to Federal Parliament was ruled invalid by the High Court this week due to revelations of his financial interest in an office lease agreement with the Commonwealth, which made him ineligible to sit as a Senator since February 2016. The High Court held that by leasing an office space to the Government used as his electorate office, Mr Day had contravened Section 44(v) of the Constitution. Despite later transferring the property to an associate, evidence indicated that rent proceeds were paid to a company owned by Mr Day. Following the bankruptcy of his construction business, Mr Day resigned from the Senate last year. It is expected the Party’s second candidate Lucy Gichuhi will fill Mr Day’s seat following a special recount of Senate ballots. See the media coverage here.
Labor Immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann has been called to appear before the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) alongside former Turnbull Government frontbencher Stuart Robert and former adviser to Tony Abbott Simone Holzapfel, following concerns raised over the March 2016 local government elections in Ipswich, Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast. The CCC will investigate issues surrounding electoral funding, bank accounts and adherence to financial disclosure requirements. See the media coverage here.
One Nation has been referred to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) by Special Minister of State Scott Ryan over an alleged breach of political donation disclosure laws. According to former One Nation State Treasurer Ian Nelson, a light aircraft was not declared as a political gift after funds were transferred from Victorian property developer Bill McNee to Pauline Hanson’s Chief of Staff James Ashby. See the media coverage here.
Federal Director of the Liberal Party Tony Nutt announced his resignation following 35 years’ service to the Party. Malcolm Turnbull thanked Mr Nutt for “his extraordinary service” and the “invaluable, always carefully considered” advice provided during his directorship. See the media coverage here.
Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor announced Gavin Slater as the new CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to replace interim CEO Nerida O’Loughlin. Mr Slater was a member of the National Australia Bank’s senior executive team until mid-last year and will begin in his new role at the DTA on 1 May. See the media release here.
Dr Shane Broad has been sworn in as the new Member for Braddon in Tasmania, following the resignation of former Member and Opposition Leader Bryan Green last month. Dr Broad has been allocated the Shadow Primary Industries portfolio by newly-appointed State Labor Leader Rebecca White. In other State Government news, it was announced that Tasmanian Attorney-General Dr Vanessa Goodwin has sadly received a terminal brain cancer diagnosis and will now withdraw from her public duties. She entered the State’s Upper House in 2009, and has served as Attorney-General and Justice Minister under the Hodgman Government since 2014. Premier Hodgman, who has been a friend of Dr Goodwin since childhood, delivered a family statement to State Parliament this week, thanking people for their support.
The SA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.