GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
Australia’s three largest gas companies – Santos, Shell and Origin – have reportedly assured the Federal Government they will increase gas supply to domestic markets to avoid a looming shortfall, following a meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull and key ministers on Wednesday. Mr Turnbull said the companies have agreed to offer domestic customers uncontracted gas as a priority, while noting the Commonwealth’s “very considerable powers” to control gas exports. The Prime Minister told reporters the companies have also committed to provide regular reports to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on gas sales and offers, in a bid to increase transparency in the gas industry. The meeting follows the release of two new reports – by the ACCC and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) – which warn the prospect of a gas shortfall in 2018 is greater than expected. See coverage here.
Treasurer Scott Morrison announced that Australia’s budget deficit has fallen to 1.9 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) or $33.2 billion. The Treasurer made the announcement as part of the release of the 2016-17 Final Budget Outcome, saying the result represents a $6.6 billion improvement in net operating terms in comparison to the deficit estimated at the time of the 2017-18 Budget. The Treasurer said the figures “demonstrate again the wisdom of the careful approach that we’ve been taking as an economic team with the Prime Minister to our Budgets”, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann cited stronger employment growth and reductions in offshore detention costs as reasons for the better-than-expected economic position.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced that it will publish weekly national estimates of the number of same-sex marriage postal survey responses it has received starting from next week, to encourage participation in the survey. The results of the survey are due to be announced on November 15. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Turnbull has confirmed he and wife Lucy Turnbull have voted “Yes” to same-sex marriage, with Mr Turnbull stating he has no regrets about proceeding with the national survey, saying “I made a commitment at the election to give everyone their say and I’m honouring that commitment”.
Leader of the Victorian GreensGreg Barber has announced that he will immediately resign as party leader and will not contest the next State Election. Barber has served in the Victorian Upper House for more than 11 years and will be replaced by Samantha Ratnam, who is presently Deputy Mayor for Moreland Council. The changeover in party leadership comes as the Victorian Greens prepare for the Northcote by-election on Saturday 18 November, following the passing of the former member Fiona Richardson. Meanwhile, voters in three NSW electorates will head to the polls next Saturday 9 October 2017 to elect the new members for Blacktown, Murray and Cootamundra.
No parliaments sit next week.