GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Labor and union in deadlock

14 June 2019


  • The PM has returned from his first overseas trip following the election and made a series of health-related announcements in Sydney.
  • Union heavyweight John Setka has dominated headlines this week over controversial comments allegedly made around domestic violence.
  • Mr Morrison met with ABC Chair Ita Buttrose to discuss issues around freedom of the press.
  • The Queensland Government has granted final approval for the Adani Carmichael coalmine.
  • Also in Queensland, the 2019-20 State Budget was handed down this week. For a full analysis, see GRACosway’s summary here.
  • The vast majority of vote counting following the 18 May Federal Election has now concluded.
  • A memorial service for former PM Bob Hawke is being held today in Sydney.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrapped up his visit to Singapore late last week by announcing expanded visa arrangements between Australia and Singapore with an aim to fill “critical labour shortages”. After returning home, Mr Morrison joined NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to address the ‘Stand Tall’ event in Sydney, announcing a funding boost for youth mental health services. On Thursday, the PM hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), describing the $22 billion program as “one of the most important social ­reforms that our country has seen in a generation”.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has called on the ALP’s national executive to expel CFMEU Victorian State Secretary John Setka from the party, following controversial comments he allegedly made regarding anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty. Mr Albanese has also called for Setka’s resignation over the “unacceptable” comments, a demand echoed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and ACTU boss Sally McManus. The union’s National President, Chris Cain, has hit back at Mr Albanese for accepting “false allegations” and instead called for the new Opposition Leader’s resignation. Mr Setka has insisted that “What was reported in relation to Rosie Batty was completely false”.

Prime Minister Morrison and Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher met with ABC Chair Ita Buttrose in the wake of recent Australian Federal Police (AFP) media raids and ongoing public discussion around freedom of the press. Reportedly, the ABC is considering legal avenues to pursue against the AFP, while Labor MP Anthony Byrne has called for an independent parliamentary inquiry into press freedom. Additionally, Senate crossbencher Rex Patrick has alleged that Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo tried to silence Senator Patrick’s criticism over the AFP’s recent conduct in a phone call last week. Mr Pezzullo has strongly denied the suggestions and claims he merely wanted Senator Patrick to “reflect” on his comments. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also weighed in, going on the record to say that “I have always found Senator Patrick to be a person of the sort of character who would seek to misrepresent the Secretary’s words”. Minister Dutton also advised the Secretary it was “inappropriate” to contact Senator Patrick.

The Queensland Government has granted final approval for the controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin, ending a nine year wait since the company first applied to construct a significantly larger version of the thermal coal mine in the region. Despite the approval, the Federal Government will be required to reassess water infrastructure for the project, following a successful legal challenge by the Australian Conservation Foundation over the use of a ‘water trigger’ in the assessment of environmental impact.

The NSW, Victorian, SA, WA and NT parliaments will sit next week, when both the NSW and SA 2019-20 Budgets will be handed down. Budget Estimates will take place in the ACT.

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