GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Government Resets Following Deputy PM Departure
- Michael McCormack is the new Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals, following Barnaby Joyce’s resignation last week.
- The Federal Government will become the full owner of Snowy Hydro 2.0.
- Minister Michaelia Cash has apologised for controversial comments made during a Senate Estimates hearing.
- New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern visited Australia this week.
- SA’s ICAC has released a damming report on the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Facility.
- Tasmanians get ready to head to the polls this Saturday, 3 March.
Following Barnaby Joyce’s resignation last Friday and the appointment of Michael McCormack as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals on Monday, a ministerial reshuffle has reinstated Nationals MP Darren Chester as Minister for Veterans Affairs. Keith Pitt and Mark Coulton have been promoted to Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, and Assistant Minister for Trade and Tourism, respectively. Meanwhile, Nationals MPs Damian Drum and Luke Hartsuyker have been shifted to the backbench, while Mr McCormack has adopted the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio left in Barnaby Joyce’s wake. The new Deputy PM said he is fortunate to have “so many talented people” in his team, however is focused on maintaining stability within the ministry to allow the Government to get on with the job.
A Federal Snowy Hydro
The Commonwealth Government has announced a $6 billion spend to buy out the share of Snowy Hydro held by the Victorian and NSW governments, as flagged in the last Budget. Under the agreement, Victoria will relinquish its 29 per cent share for $2 billion, while NSW’s 58 per cent share will be purchased for $4.1 billion. It is understood the States must spend the proceeds on “productive infrastructure”.
Following a threat to name “every young woman” in Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s office over alleged “rumours” of improper behaviour, Minister Michaelia Cash has been forced to apologise for her conduct during Senate Estimates – described by former PM Tony Abbott as a “brain snap”. The veiled implications were described by the Opposition as “ghastly, sexist” and “an attack” on other women.
NZ PM on Our Shores
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has visited Australia this week to discuss shared economic opportunities and the bilateral Single Economic Market agenda with Malcolm Turnbull. The Australian PM welcomed his NZ counterpart, describing the visit as “an opportunity to strengthen our special bilateral relationship”.
Oakden ICAC Report Released
Dominating South Australian Election coverage this week has been the release of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption’s 456 page scathing report on maladministration at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Facility. Commissioner Bruce Lander has made 13 recommendations for change at mental health facilities, all of which have been accepted by the SA Government. See the full election coverage in this week’s issue of ‘SA Votes’.
Heading to the polls this weekend, Tasmanians will decide whether a change is needed after four years of government under Liberal Premier Will Hodgman, who this week released a 100-day plan for the State’s future. For more information on the election, check out GRACosway’s briefing note, ‘Tasmania Votes 2018’.