GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Leaders head north to shore up Sunshine State
7 September 2018
- Federal political leaders have spent time in the crucial battleground state of Queensland this week in a bid to bolster support in marginal seats.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the government will not proceed with plans to increase the pension age to 70.
- Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has faced increasing scrutiny over ministerial interventions he made on behalf of two au pairs.
- Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has indicated he plans to retire when his term expires in March next year.
- South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas has handed down the new Marshall Liberal Government’s first budget.
- Voters in the NSW state seat of Wagga Wagga head to the polls for a by-election this weekend.
Leaders head to crucial Queensland seats
Leaders from both sides of politics began the week in Queensland, a key battleground state where both parties will be expected to hold and win crucial marginal seats if they wish to be successful at the next Federal Election. Prime Minister Scott Morrison commenced his second full week as PM in Cairns, where he recommitted federal funding for the Cairns Innovation Centre at James Cook University. Morrison then travelled to Townsville where he announced $75 million in new funding to expand the city’s port, improving access for cargo and passenger ships, while also visiting soldiers at Lavarack Barracks and attending a defence demonstration.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten began his Sunshine State blitz with an address to the state Labor conference in Brisbane where he promised a future Labor government will commit $500 million to upgrade key inland roads. Mr Shorten then hosted a town hall meeting in Rockhampton before travelling to Townsville where he also visited troops and announced that, if elected, he will sign a Military Covenant which would enshrine in legislation the government’s commitment to the health and welfare of serving and retired defence force personnel.
PM scraps pension plans
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the Government will not proceed with plans to raise the pension age to 70. The legislation to bring the change into effect has, to date, failed to achieve enough support to pass the Senate. Mr Morrison said the changes are no longer required due to the strong state of the economy and improving budget position. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten welcomed the move but criticised Morrison for backing down from the position he previously supported when he was Treasurer, questioning “what does Scott Morrison really believe?”.
Au pair saga continues
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has continued to face scrutiny in relation to his ministerial intervention in a number of visa cases, including two cases involving au pairs. A Senate Committee inquiry has been established to investigate the matter, with a hearing held in Canberra this week. Former head of the Australian Border Force, Roman Quaedvlieg, weighed in on the fiasco, writing to the Senate Committee Chair to say he once received a phone call from Minister Dutton’s office seeking help for a “mate” of the minister whose family had an au pair in detention and facing deportation at Brisbane airport. The Greens’ Adam Bandt has indicated he will move a motion of no confidence in Minister Dutton when parliament resumes next week, with support from the Opposition and some crossbenchers. A tight vote is expected now the Government’s numbers in the House have been diminished by the resignation of former PM Malcolm Turnbull.
Governor-General confirms intention to retire
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has signalled his intention to retire from duty when his term expires in March, saying the move will allow someone with “new vigour” to take over the role. The announcement comes after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week requesting he extend Sir Peter’s term by six months until after the next election, due by May.
First Liberal South Australian Budget in 17 years
South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas has handed down the first Budget of the Marshall Liberal Government, making a number of cuts to government programs and the public service while outlining ambitious spending on infrastructure and a focus on health and education. The Budget revealed a greater than expected deficit of $397 million in 2017-18 and predicted a small $48 million surplus next year, with increasing surpluses over the forward estimates. If you missed GRACosway’s earlier briefing on the 2018-19 South Australian Budget, you can catch up here.
Wagga Wagga voters face by-election
Voters in the NSW state seat of Wagga Wagga will head to the polls this weekend in a by-election triggered by the resignation of former MP Daryl Maguire. It’s shaping up to be a close contest, with the latest polling showing a fall in the Liberals’ primary vote in the seat. The Nationals have agreed not to run a candidate, while Liberal candidate Julia Ham will go up against popular independent Dr Joe McGirr and the Labor Party’s Dan Hayes.
The Federal and West Australian Parliaments are sitting next week.