GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

6 October 2017
State and territory leaders gathered for a special Council of Australian Governments (COAG) national security meeting this week, where they unanimously agreed to introduce facial recognition technology to assist in identifying potential “suspects or victims of terrorist or other criminal activity”, along with other counter-terrorism measures. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new measures will bring together Federal Government photo IDs, such as passports and visas, along with drivers’ licences to give security agencies real-time access to information about persons of concern. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews rejected civil liberty objections to the measures, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stressed that “The states are in violent agreement” on the changes. See the media coverage here.

Senator Nick Xenophon has announced his intention to resign from the Senate to run as the SA-BEST candidate for his local electorate of Hartley in South Australia at the 2018 State Election, following the outcome of his High Court citizenship case. The party leader attributed the move to the “broken, politically bankrupt” condition of SA politics, adding that it will involve a “big gamble” on his part. The High Court is scheduled to deliberate on Senator Xenophon’s citizenship case next week; Senator Xenophon has confirmed he will resign from the Senate regardless of the outcome of the case. The Member for Hartley, Liberal MP Vincent Tarzia, responded to Senator Xenophon’s announcement this morning, saying via Twitter “Bring it on. I’ll keep working hard for the community!” See the media coverage here.

The Prime Minister met with Santos, Shell and Origin Energy chief executives again this week, facilitating an agreement to guarantee approximately $925 million in gas supply to Victoria, NSW and Queensland over the next 12 months. The arrangement aims to prevent a shortfall in east coast gas supply as predicted by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Mr Turnbull said he is confident that the domestic gas shortage will not eventuate and described gas as “a more important fuel than ever in the generation of electricity”. See the media coverage here.

In other energy news, a Climate Council poll suggests that 77 per cent of Australians support a Clean Energy Target (CET), as recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. The poll indicates greater support among younger demographics, with 83 per cent of 18-24 year olds confirming their support for a CET. A report by the International Energy Agency has also demonstrated that, for the first time, growth in solar power in 2016 exceeded other sources of fuel. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called on the Government to deliver a reliable energy supply by amending the law to permit construction of nuclear power plants. See the media coverage here.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced a new International Cyber Engagement Strategy for the next three years, with the aim of “creating the environment for digital trade” in Australia. The strategy outlines how digital technologies can be used to boost development, recognise and build on opportunities, and balance identified risks. The project is a key deliverable of the $230 million Cyber Security Strategy, and will be implemented through the Cyber Cooperation Program with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. See the media release here.

Victorian Minister Wade Noonan has announced his resignation from politics this week, describing his role as Minister for Industry and Employment, and Minister for Resources, as “the greatest honour of my life”. Mr Noonan said he will continue to serve out his term to the November 2018 State Election – avoiding triggering a by-election in the seat of Williamstown – but will immediately step down from his ministerial roles. Also in Victoria, Brunswick MP and former minister Jane Garrett will seek to move to the Upper House at next year’s State Election, making way for Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney to run in marginal Brunswick, where the Greens are considered a threat. Police Minister Lisa Neville this week criticised her colleague’s plan, saying “I’m not a big fan of people deciding to move to safer seats”. See the media coverage here.

The NSW, Queensland, WA and NT parliaments will sit next week.


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