GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

1 September 2017
International issues were high on the political agenda this week, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledging his support to Japan after North Korea launched a missile over Hokkaido Island in northern Japan. Mr Turnbull said that the “provocative” actions increase the risk of conflict, and that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is drafting his own “suicide note” by stirring up a war he will not win. The Prime Minister said North Korea is attempting to use intimidation tactics to undo trade sanctions recently implemented by the United Nations Security Council, while Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop indicated that Australia will continue to work with its allies, including the United States, to end the “threatening and destabilising behaviour” of the rogue state. See the media coverage here.

The Prime Minister met with executives from Australia’s eight largest energy retail companies this week to discuss rising electricity prices. It was agreed that, in order to address increasing costs, energy retailers would make contact with all customers by the end of 2017 and provide advice on how to reduce their energy bills, via the Energy Made Easy website. Having agreed to assist customers, the executives used the opportunity to urge the Federal Government to introduce a clean energy target (CET), as recommended in the Finkel Review. Prime Minister Turnbull said the consumer-focused commitments from energy retailers are part of the Government’s plan “to look after Australian families and ensure than none of them are paying any more than they need to for electricity”. See the media coverage here.

As a growing list of MPs and senators prepare to face the High Court in October, Senator Derryn Hinch has announced he will seek legal advice over his current possession of a US social security card to determine whether this is a breach of section 44(i) of the Constitution. However, the senator indicated he had never held US citizenship or a green card, and does not believe he has breached the relevant rules. See the media coverage here.

In an annual Bloomberg address, Treasurer Scott Morrison has claimed that a $31 billion extra annual tax burden would be felt under a Labor Government, jeopardising the nation’s standard of living. He described the “New Red Labor” Party as opportunistic, capitalising on stagnant wage growth; modest company profit; and resulting strained household budgets, which have “opened the door to the politics of envy”. Mr Morrison highlighted a need to “shift the dial on our productivity agenda” ahead of the release of a report by the Productivity Commission which categorises key drivers of productivity as immediate causes; underlying factors; and fundamental factors. See the media coverage here and the Treasurer’s speech here.

The Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has announced it will not investigate Opposition Leader Matthew Guy following revelations he dined with alleged mafia boss Tony Madafferi earlier this year, determining that “the information does not fall within our jurisdiction”. Deputy Premier James Merlinodescribed the referral to IBAC as merely “a stunt”, observers reportedly predicting that the matter would not proceed on account of IBAC’s restricted powers in comparison to its NSW counterpart. See the media coverage here.

Based on official population figures, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has announced a redistribution of federal electoral divisions across Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. The Victorian entitlement will increase from 37 to 38 seats; the ACT will increase from two to three seats; and South Australia will decrease from 11 to 10 seats. As a result, the total number of members elected to the House of Representatives will increase by one to 151 members at the next federal election. See the media coverage here.

Vicki O’Halloran has been appointed Northern Territory Administrator and is set to replace current Administrator John Hardy whose term concludes on 30 October. Federal Minister for Local Government and Territories Senator Fiona Nash welcomed the appointment, saying Mrs O’Halloran has “devoted her entire career and many volunteer hours to welfare services” as a “leader and advocate for the disability sector”.

The Federal, Victorian, Queensland and WA Parliament will sit next week.


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