GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Final fortnight of Federal Parliament approaches
- The PM kicked off the week in Papua New Guinea, announcing a number of measures to strengthen ties with our Pacific neighbours.
- Labor has announced a new energy policy ahead of the 2019 Federal Election.
- Australia’s largest businesses will be compelled to settle invoices with small businesses, under a new measure to improve small business cash flow.
- The first Economic Security Statement for Women has been announced.
- The Government will not sign up to the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration.
- Victorians will head to the polls tomorrow for the 2018 State Election.
In quintessential Australian style, Prime Minister Scott Morrison marked the close of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit by hosting a Sunday barbeque with his fellow Pacific leaders. While abroad, Mr Morrison announced a range of measures to strengthen regional cooperation; deliver enhanced security capabilities in Vanuatu; open a new business school in Papua New Guinea; and sign the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership to improve the nation’s electricity delivery. Over the weekend, Mr Morrison signed a memorandum of understanding to give effect to the Trilateral Partnership for Infrastructure Investment in the Indo-Pacific between the governments of Australia, Japan and the United States.
The Government is preparing to return to Canberra for the first House of Representatives sitting week since the Wentworth by-election and the final sitting fortnight of the year. Incoming Independent MP Kerryn Phelps will be sworn in on Monday and the Government will need at least one crossbench vote to pass legislation through the House of Representatives, having lost its majority. There has been talk of recruiting a “Bob Katter wrangler” for the final sitting fortnight to ensure the crossbencher – who has committed to support the Government on matters of confidence and supply – is in the chamber for votes.
Labor lights up the news
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has announced that a Labor Government will subsidise residential battery installation in a bid to bring down energy prices, combat climate change, and reach Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. From 2020, a $2,000 rebate for eligible families will be used to support battery installation in 100,000 homes, with a goal of installing 1 million batteries by 2025. Under the new energy policy, Labor will retain the Coalition’s dumped National Energy Guarantee (NEG) and maintain a 45 per cent emissions reduction target.
Cash to flow for small businesses
The PM has announced new measures to compel Australia’s largest businesses seeking to tender for government contracts to pay all invoices under $1 million to their small business counterparts within 20 days. A new annual reporting framework will also require businesses turning over more than $100 million to publish relevant small business payment information. Speaking at a Business Council of Australia dinner on Wednesday night, Mr Morrison said that the Government must “ensure small business is not used as a bank”.
Bridging the gap
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer has unveiled a $109 million package over four years to improve women’s financial security and help reduce the gender pay gap via the first Economic Security Statement for Women. Originally announced in the 2018 Budget, the initiative includes a range of measures, including changes to the paid parental leave system; measures to assist women to re-enter the workforce; early superannuation access and a no-interest loan scheme for victims of domestic violence; and new discretionary powers for courts to prohibit direct cross-examination in family violence cases.
Migration has been a hot topic this week after the Government announced it will not sign up to the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration, following the example set by the United States. Citing public concern about congested capital cities, the PM said the issue of migration will be discussed at next month’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting to gather input from the states and territories. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has recently called for the State’s migrant intake to be halved, resetting the number to Howard-era levels. Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has estimated this week that Australia’s population will reach 30 million between 2029 and 2033. The data also reveals that NSW is expected to remain the largest state with a population of approximately 9 million people, followed by Victoria and then Queensland.
Victorian Election looms
Victorians will head to the polls this Saturday to determine if Labor will see another term of government, or if the Liberal-National Opposition will take the reins. Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy squared off in a live debate on Thursday night, covering issues such as law and order in Melbourne, the East West Link and the Safe Schools program. The audience of 100 undecided voters delivered a victory to Mr Andrews, with 49 members backing the Premier and 33 lending support to Mr Guy. A new Fairfax/ReachTEL poll taken Wednesday evening positions Labor firmly in the lead, on 54-46 in two-party preferred terms. For a summary of the final campaign week, see GRACosway’s fourth issue of ‘Victoria Votes’.