GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Coalition set for minority government
- The Federal Coalition is facing the likely prospect of minority government, with independent Kerryn Phelps on track to secure victory in the Wentworth by-election
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a drought summit in Canberra today
- Senator Fraser Anning has been expelled from Katter’s Australian Party due to his views on race and immigration
- Federal, state and territory energy ministers attend a COAG Energy Council meeting in Sydney today
- Politicians unite to deliver a national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse
Wentworth by-election fallout
While the Australian Electoral Commission has not yet declared the result from Saturday’s by-election in Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps maintains a comfortable lead as postal votes continue to be counted. If Dr Phelps is confirmed the winner, the Morrison Government will lose its majority in the House of Representatives, relying on crossbench support going forward. During media appearances earlier this week, Dr Phelps said the Morrison Government should run a full term unless there were “exceptional circumstances”. Mr Morrison sought to attribute the Wentworth result to the leadership change, conceding the party paid “a big price” for the events that led to the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as PM.
Drought fund to build resilience
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a new plan to establish a $5 billion Drought Future Fund to help “drought proof” the nation. Announced at a drought summit in Canberra today, the new fund will be used to fund drought relief and mitigation programs, with payments of $100 million a year being made available from 2020. Mr Morrison said the Federal Government will initially commit $3.9 billion from the unused Building Australia Fund, which will grow to reach $5 billion by 2028. Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon expressed cynicism about the announcement, saying the Government has used an “accounting trick” to generate a “big dollar headline”.
Katter’s Australian Party expels sole Senator
One Nation turned Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Senator Fraser Anning has been expelled from his new party, with KAP leader and Federal MP Bob Katter saying the Senator’s views on race and non-European migration were “clearly” racist. KAP made the move to ditch Senator Anning following his attempt to introduce a bill last week for a plebiscite on non-European migration to Australia, despite repeated warnings about his controversial language and views. KAP has been under increasing pressure to distance itself from Senator Anning, after he delivered his now infamous first speech, which called for an end to Muslim immigration.
Energy policy back on the agenda
The Government has announced a new package of reforms to reduce power prices and increase reliability, which include tasking the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) with introducing default prices by April 2019. The Government has also proposed increasing the AER’s power to prevent anti-competitive practices and ensure power companies invest to meet future energy demands. Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor is joining his state and territory counterparts at the COAG Energy Council meeting in Sydney today, where he will seek support to introduce a market cap on generation ownership and increase transparency in the wholesale contract market.
Parliament unites for national apology
In a rare moment of solidarity between Federal MPs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week delivered a national apology on behalf of the Australian parliament to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. The apology was a recommendation from the five-year royal commission that spoke to more than 8,000 survivors of child sexual abuse.