GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

28 April 2017
This week’s Newspoll reveals a rise in support for the Coalition from 47 to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred (2PP) basis, compared to Labor on 52 per cent; previous polling recorded a six per cent lead by Labor. The Government’s primary vote of 36 per cent sits just above Labor (on 35 per cent), while Malcolm Turnbull continues to hold the lead as preferred Prime Minister over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, 42 to 33 per cent.

Still at the polls, a special Newspoll also conducted this week has revealed growing support for reform of the housing market in the upcoming Federal Budget, with 54 per cent of those surveyed supporting reforms for negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements in order to improve housing affordability. The divisive proposal to allow first home buyers early access to superannuation received 42 per cent of overall support, however, government sources have reportedly indicated this change is unlikely to be included in the upcoming Federal Budget.

Malcolm Turnbull has announced export restrictions on the Australian gas production industry from 1 July, in order to combat domestic gas shortages and resulting higher prices. The Prime Minister indicated the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism will introduce government powers to exert greater control over company exports when a shortfall in the domestic market occurs. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Government is “unapologetic” over its decision and that the move will ensure “that Australian jobs can continue to grow and investment can continue in the sectors that are dependent on gas use for their prosperity.” The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) has labelled export controls “alarming”, contending that states must open additional coal seam gas fields in order to ease the supply crisis. Alternatively, the move has been described by the Australian Industry Group as “an appropriate and welcome response to an extraordinary crisis.” See the media coverage here.

Ahead of the May Budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison has advised a meeting of the Australian Business Economists that, under a new arrangement, government agencies will be assigned a portion of overall government debt alongside introduction of higher levels of accountability. In an attempt to demarcate “good debt from bad debt”, the Treasurer said the new measures will highlight differences between debt which funds further spending and debt created for productive capital expenses, such as infrastructure. It is understood interest costs on debt will also be spread across portfolios. Further, Mr Morrison also reiterated the Government’s intention to reduce the company tax rate to 25 per cent over the next decade to promote Australian investment in light of the Trump administration’s plan to reduce US company tax to just 15 per cent. See the media coverage here.

In an unexpected move, Family First has announced its decision to amalgamate with Senator Cory Bernardi’s recently-established Australian Conservatives, while newly-elected Senator Lucy Gichuhi is reportedly likely to declare herself an independent. The merge will present a new Senate voting bloc of conservative members, diminishing the influence of the three Nick Xenophon Team members and four One Nation senators. Following discussions this week, it is understood Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm will operate under a “loose alliance” with the enlarged Australian Conservatives. See the media coverage here.

One Nation candidate Mark Ellis has announced his withdrawal from the next Queensland election, citing alleged abuse by the media as the reason for his decision. It was recently revealed the former policeman was a member of the “Pinkenba Six”, a group of police officers who were charged in 1994 with kidnapping and abandoning several indigenous youths from Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. The charges were later dropped but Mr Ellis has reportedly received death threats via social media over the incident since announcement of his candidacy for the State Election. See the media coverage here.

The Victorian, Tasmanian, NSW and Northern Territory parliaments sit next week.

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