GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Economy slows to a decade low

6 September 2019

  • The PM returned from an overseas trip over the weekend before visiting Melbourne and Sydney for a series of infrastructure-related announcements.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia kept the official cash rate on hold at one per cent, while second quarter GDP figures revealed the slowest annual GDP growth in 10 years.
  • Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese joined locals in Biloela, Queensland, to call on the Government to grant residency to the Tamil family currently facing deportation to Sri Lanka. As of this morning, the family will stay in Australia for another 12 days, with a hearing set down for 18 September.
  • New CoreLogic data has revealed a promising rise in capital city property prices with an average of 1 per cent in August, boosted by a 1.6 per cent rise in Sydney and 1.4 per cent in Melbourne.
MPs are preparing to return to the nation’s capital next week for the resumption of Parliament, following a five-week winter break. Items on next week’s agenda include the Government’s ‘union-busting’ Ensuring Integrity Bill, post-Banking Royal Commission changes to remove grandfathering arrangements for conflicted remuneration in relation to financial advice, and new measures to crack down on multinational tax avoidance. Reports this morning suggest the Government is also set to revive its plan to drug test welfare recipients.

Amid ongoing calls from industry and the Opposition to address productivity concerns and mitigate the risk of an economic slump, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed that new tax incentives to encourage business growth will not be announced until the May 2020 Budget. Despite the modest GDP figures for the June quarter released by the ABS (revealing growth of 0.5 per cent for the quarter and annual growth of 1.4 per cent), Mr Frydenberg remains confident in the anticipated positive impact of recent income tax cuts, two recent interest rate reductions and the fast-tracking of infrastructure projects.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese spent the weekend in Dili to attend a 20th anniversary commemoration of the referendum on the independence of Timor-Leste from Indonesia. While abroad, the PM met with his counterpart, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, to exchange diplomatic notes and ratify a new maritime boundary treaty between the two nations. Mr Morrison also announced that Australia will support the establishment of a sub-sea fibre optic cable to “transform Timor-Leste’s digital connection with the world”, and will fund upgrades to the local naval base. Ahead of the visit, he described the trip as marking “a new chapter for Australia and Timor-Leste that is based on our shared respect, interests and values”.

The Government has awarded a $644 million contract to Lend Lease CPB for infrastructure earthworks ahead of construction of the $5.3 billion Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport at Badgerys Creek, which is due to open for business in 2026. Flanked by several members of Cabinet and local MP Melissa McIntosh, the PM visited the site of the future airport to open a “world-class experience centre” to attract locals and tourists. Later in the week, the PM joined Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in Melbourne to announce an additional $367.5 million towards the Stage 2 Upgrade of the Monash Freeway. The funding boost will bring the total freeway expansion price tag to $1.4 billion.

The Australian Federal Police have conducted a raid on the Canberra home recently occupied by Australian Signals Directorate officer Cameron Gill, who was living at the property until March of this year and is married to Australia’s ambassador to Iraq, Joanne Loundes. Resisting calls from the media for an explanation, the AFP said in a statement that the raid “does not relate to any current or impending threat to the Australian community”.

Looking ahead, the Federal, NSW, Victorian, Tasmanian and SA parliaments will sit next week.


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