GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Coalition Partnership Strained
- Coalition partnership strained following PM’s public criticism of Deputy PM’s relationship with a former staff member.
- Debate on the Government’s tax reform package continues.
- The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) will soon be reviewed by the COAG Energy Council.
- Kristina Keneally has entered the Senate.
- South Australia is edging closer to its election date.
An extraordinary war of words has erupted between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, following the PM’s public criticism of Mr Joyce’s relationship with a former staff member. Speaking to reporters this morning, Mr Joyce labelled the PM’s comments “inept” and “unnecessary”, warning the Nationals do not appreciate “implied intervention” in their party processes. Mr Turnbull did not hold back in his assessment of Mr Joyce’s behaviour yesterday, saying his deputy had inflicted “terrible hurt and humiliation” on his wife, children and new partner.
Mr Turnbull has foreshadowed a review of the “truly deficient” Ministerial Code of Conduct, while also introducing a new line requiring ministers to exercise judgement and common sense in adhering to the spirit of the Code. The PM also stated that it is not acceptable for ministers to have personal relationships with staff members. Mr Joyce will take leave next week, with Senate leader Mathias Cormann stepping into the role of Acting PM while Mr Turnbull is overseas.
Stagnant Tax Reform
The Government faces resistance in the Senate over its $50 billion company tax package, originally announced in the 2016 Federal Budget. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed the Government will continue to engage with Senate crossbenchers to garner support for the changes, which the Government believes will make Australian businesses more globally competitive. The proposed changes would reduce the tax rate from 30 to 25 per cent for companies turning over more than $50 million per annum.
Senate Musical Chairs
Labor’s Kristina Keneally was sworn into the Senate on Thursday as Sam Dastyari’s replacement, following formal endorsement by NSW Parliament. Former Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck has returned to the Senate and was sworn in as a Liberal Senator for Tasmania, replacing former President of the Senate Stephen Parry. It is not yet confirmedwhether Nick Xenophon Team candidate Tim Storer will join the party to replace Skye Kakoschke-Moore; the High Court this week determined she could not replace herself in Parliament after renouncing British citizenship.
Energy Consultation Continues
The Energy Security Board (ESB) this week released its first consultation paper on the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and will seek further feedback from stakeholders before delivering a draft design ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council in April. State energy ministers have delivered mixed reactions to the paper, with Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio saying Victoria won’t sign up to anything that undermines its renewable energy and climate change policies.
As campaign activity ramps up ahead of the 17 March South Australian Election, writs will be formally issued on Saturday. To stay up to date on the unique three-horse race unfolding in SA, look out for GRACosway’s regular ‘SA Votes 2018’ updates.