GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Cabinet Unlocked
- A trove of classified information has been released following a major government security bungle.
- Labor MP David Feeney has resigned over dual citizenship concerns, triggering a by-election in Batman.
- The Federal Government has announced its new Defence Export Strategy.
- Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced changes to the foreign investment framework.
- The PM and Opposition Leader both gave keynote speeches.
- The Queensland Cabinet has convened for a two-day meeting.
Australian Security Intelligence Commission (ASIO) officers entered ABC offices in the early hours of Thursday morning this week to secure hundreds of documents, in response to the news that two filing cabinets containing sensitive government materials were mistakenly sold to a member of the public, exposing an extraordinary breach of security protocol. The cabinets reportedly contained information on the Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott governments, and in fact reveal previous instances of significant security failures. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has announced an urgent investigation into the breach.
The leaked cabinet documents have presented problems for both sides of politics. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has initiated legal proceedings against the ABC in response to reports that his administration was allegedly cautioned on the “critical risks” associated with Labor’s Home Insulation Scheme, which led to the deaths of four workers. Former Immigration Minister turned Treasurer Scott Morrison has similarly come under fire following the leak, over reports that his office intentionally delayed the processing of refugee visas in 2013; Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisted his Government makes “no apologies for sending the clearest message to the people smugglers”.
Labor’s David Feeney has resigned from Federal Parliament this week, following concerns over his dual citizenship status. His electorate of Batman will therefore face a by-election, with Greens candidate Alex Bhathal expected to go up against Labor’s Ged Kearney, ACTU president. At the 2016 Federal Election, Mr Feeney overcame the Greens by fewer than 2,000 votes.
Defence Export Strategy
Ahead of the Government’s return to Parliament next week, the Prime Minister has announced a new Defence Export Strategy, designed make Australia one of the top ten global defence exporters within the next decade. The strategy includes a $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility, a Defence Export Office and Advocate, alongside $20 million in annual funding to deliver the program. Described as “unprecedented” by Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne, the strategy is designed to “supply our friends and our allies with military platforms and equipment that will also transform their military capabilities and create the jobs and the growth here in Australia”.
Foreign Investment Changes
Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced increased restrictions on foreign investment in energy infrastructure and prime agricultural farmland. The new rules will give the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) a greater role in examining potential energy asset transactions; and ensure that vendors provide Australians the first option to purchase agricultural land.
Bill Shorten’s Vision for 2018
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has delivered an address to the National Press Club this week, outlining his party’s priorities for the 2018 parliamentary year. Notably, Mr Shorten has proposed a National Integrity Commission to ensure more robust behaviour in public office; and used the opportunity to discuss the rising cost of living, the mounting cost of private health insurance, and stagnant wage growth. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister gave a keynote address in Toowoomba on Thursday, canvassing the Government’s policies on tax reform, childcare affordability, energy prices and employment growth.
The Federal, NSW, Victorian and NT parliaments will sit next week.