GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Coalition marks 50th consecutive Newspoll loss
- Labor continues to lead in the polls, 54 to 46 on a two-party preferred basis in the latest Newspoll.
- The PM has made a series of transport infrastructure announcements this week in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has indicated that changes to the Fair Work Act could be possible under a Labor government to increase the minimum wage.
- A group of Nationals MPs have called for taxpayer investment in a new coal-fired power station in central Queensland.
- Draft terms of reference for the royal commission into disability abuse have been released for a two-week consultation.
This week marks the Coalition Government’s 50th consecutive Newspoll loss, with Labor leading on a two-party preferred split of 54 to 46 per cent in the latest Newspoll. Labor’s primary vote remains steady on 39 per cent, while the Coalition’s primary has dropped one point to 36 per cent. Meanwhile, Sunday’s preselection for Julie Bishop’s seat of Curtin was won by former university chief Celia Hammond, while the battle for Christopher Pyne’s seat of Sturt in South Australia has become a three-way race after a fourth candidate opted to withdraw due to potential citizenship issues. SA Liberal MP Nicolle Flint has called on the Liberal Women’s Council to back two female candidates, both aligned to the conservative faction.
Funding confirmed for key infrastructure
Following a trip to Perth last weekend to announce a package of transport infrastructure projects, Prime Minister Scott Morrison flew to Sydney to confirm a $3.5 billion federal funding commitment towards the NSW Government’s North South Rail Line, which will run from St Marys to the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird Walton) Airport at Badgerys Creek. The PM later joined Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to unveil the $355 million 10-year Geelong City Deal, and sign off on the long-awaited Melbourne Airport Rail Link. The Federal and Victorian governments will each contribute $5 billion towards the sizeable project, with construction set to begin in 2022.
Labor plan to improve minimum wage
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has flagged a plan to legislate a “living wage” in Australia should Labor be successful at the next Federal Election. Under the proposal, an update to workplace laws would boost the minimum wage set by the Fair Work Commission, impacting around 2.3 million workers. Business industry representatives and the Coalition and have claimed that such a move would lead to increased unemployment, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann described the proposal as “a cruel Labor hoax”. Labor has made a submission on the minimum wage to the Fair Work Commission’s annual review, recommending an above-inflation minimum wage increase to low-paid workers from 1 July.
Debate over coal
A group of Nationals MPs – led by former party leader Barnaby Joyce – are calling for government investment in a new coal-fired power station in central Queensland. Earlier in the week, Mr Joyce described himself as the “elected” deputy PM, fuelling speculation over a potential leadership challenge against party leader Michael McCormack. The PM said such a project would not be approved by the Queensland Government and downplayed talk of unrest within Coalition ranks, saying the Federal Government supports an “agnostic” approach to energy technology. Internal polling reportedly presented to the Nationals last month indicated that climate change is a key issue for voters within their federal electorates.
Following release of the draft terms of reference for the royal commission into disability abuse, the PM has announced this week that the Federal Government will foot the bill for the inquiry – expected to be more than $400 million. In a letter to Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher, state and territory disability ministers have criticised the choice to hold only a two-week consultation period on the draft terms, pushing instead for a four-week period and “direct sector engagement through focus groups”.