GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

26 May 2017
The spotlight was on global issues this week, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressing his condolences to the people of the United Kingdom following the Manchester terrorist attack. The Prime Minister condemned the act as “a direct and brutal attack on young people everywhere, on freedom everywhere” and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to ensure safety in public spaces. The Prime Minister also welcomed Sri Lankan President His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena to Australia to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, describing the visit as “an opportunity to advance key areas of bilateral cooperation” such as education, defence and medical research. See the media release here.
Debate about the Government’s Budget measures continued throughout the week, with Senator Cory Bernardi and Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm indicating their support for the proposed higher education reforms and Labor, the Nick Xenophon Team and Senator Jacqui Lambie calling for the 2.5 per cent Medicare levy to be limited to individuals earning more than $87,000. Labor, the Greens and other crossbenchers have also indicated plans to block key budget measures, including the revised higher education package, the superannuation saver scheme for first home buyers and random drug testing for welfare recipients. See the media coverage here.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the Senate has a “big responsibility” to bring the budget back to balance, amid ongoing debate about the proposed bank levy. Senator Nick Xenophon has stated in-principle support for the levy, on the condition that it is expanded to apply to foreign financial institutions. The big four banks have released statements outlining an expected combined additional annual tax of $965 million. Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and ANZ each wrote to shareholders criticising the levy and highlighting the potential impacts. Westpac Chairman Lindsay Maxsted stressed that “No company can simply ‘absorb’ a new tax”, foreshadowing a flow-on effect to customers and shareholders. Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) chief executive Anna Bligh has requested a full inquiry into the bank levy to “ensure all stakeholders have a full understanding of the implications of this tax on the economy and financial system.” See the media coverage here.

In other news, Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor has announced the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA), a data analysis initiative to deliver evidence-based policies and programs across all portfolios. The Assistant Minister reported that “A central capability within the DIPA will coordinate specialised teams focused on social, industry, environmental and government efficiency policies.” $130.8 million will be invested over three years, via the Public Sector Modernisation Fund announced in the Budget. See the media release here.

In an unprecedented philanthropic announcement, Fortescue Metals Group CEO and philanthropist Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and wife Nicola have pledged a $400 million donation to Australian social causes, including cancer research, early childhood education, and ending modern slavery. Prime Minister Turnbull thanked the Forrests, describing their contribution as “an act of love, of generosity and leadership”. See the media release here.

The Federal, NSW, SA and Tasmanian parliaments sit next week.


Back to articles