GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

7 July 2017
The Federal Government has marked the one-year anniversary of its narrow election victory last July, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull describing himself as a “happy Prime Minister” and using the occasion to reflect on the Government’s performance over the past 12 months. Mr Turnbull said “the criticism that we would be in office but not in power has proved to be quite wrong”, suggesting the Government has “got more [legislation] through the parliament in the past year than we have done in the previous three years”. Mr Turnbull also confirmed he will run in the 2019 election, telling reporters “I can assure you I will be Prime Minister for many, many years to come”, while also saying he will quit parliament when he ceases to be PM.

The Prime Minister is attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg, Germany this week, before making official visits to France and the UK. Mr Turnbull is expected to raise issues of trade; terrorism; energy and sustainability; and digitalisation at the Summit, while Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will seek to discuss North Korea’s recent long-range missile test, which she has condemned as a “grave disregard for regional peace”. See the media release here.

The South Australian Government has announced French company Neoen and US company Tesla will jointly deliver the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia, pairing Tesla’s energy storage systems with Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm in the State’s mid-north to deliver the project before summer. Tesla CEOElon Musk first expressed interest in the 100MW battery storage project on Twitter in March this year, when he wrote “Telsa will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free”. The SA Government has taken Mr Musk up on his offer, with Premier Jay Weatherill saying the 100-day clock will start once the grid interconnection agreement has been signed. The Premier said “battery storage is the future of our national energy market” and that “the eyes of the world will be following our leadership in this space”. See the media coverage here.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has announced internal and Australian Federal Police investigations into a recent cyber security breach of the Health Department’s IT systems, following revelations of Medicare data being sold on the ‘dark web’. According to media reports, experts are calling for a revaluation of the Government’s $1 billion My Health Record program – a centralised system soon to be rolled-out to all Australians. Minister Tudge said that only Medicare card numbers were stolen, and that “no one’s health record is in jeopardy”. See the media coverage here.

Infrastructure Australia has released its third policy report in the Reform Series, advising governments to form a consensus on a national framework for high-speed rail corridor protection, and to take action within the next five years. The report recommends the acquisition of seven strategic corridors across Australia, listed on the Infrastructure Priority List, which could save approximately $11 billion in purchase and construction costs. Chairman Mark Birrell stated that “Australia’s governments have an immediate opportunity to deliver an enduring infrastructure legacy to future generations”. See the media release here.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled to extend casual conversion clauses to additional awards, allowing more casual workers to convert to permanent employment after 12 months, provided an employer cannot show “reasonable grounds” to refuse the request. The FWC rejected a claim made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) for minimum daily shifts of four hours, instead imposing a two-hour minimum. See the media coverage here.

Labor has instituted a legal challenge to the validity of Assistant Health Minister Dr David Gillespie’s election to Parliament, alleging Dr Gillespie holds an indirect pecuniary interest in the Commonwealth, in contravention of the Australian Constitution. The Nationals MP owns a retail complex in Port Macquarie and leases a shop to an Australia Post outlet; a government-owned corporation. If the High Court rules in Labor’s favour, the resulting by-election in Dr Gillespie’s electorate of Lyne could pose a risk to the Government’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives. See the media coverage here.

No Parliaments are sitting next week.


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