GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Morrison Ministry sworn in
31 May 2019
- The Morrison Government has been sworn in by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove this week, 11 days after the Coalition’s election victory.
- Labor’s Anthony Albanese has been elected unopposed as Leader of the Opposition, with Richard Marles as Deputy.
- The NSW seat of Macquarie remains too close to call, with Labor incumbent Susan Templeman currently 282 votes ahead of Liberal rival Sarah Richards.
- In Tasmania, Liberal candidate Bridget Archer is 584 seats ahead of Labor MP Ross Hart for the seat of Bass.
- Tax and energy policy continued to feature heavily in the policy debate this week, along with the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
- The Fair Work Commission has increased the minimum wage by 3 per cent, which equates to a $21.60 per week increase from 1 July.
The Second Morrison Ministry was officially sworn in at Government House on Wednesday this week. The new-look Cabinet features a record of seven women, while Ken Wyatt became the first Indigenous Australian to serve in Cabinet. A day earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison convened the first Coalition party room meeting since the election, welcoming the 28 new faces on the Government benches. Despite the new Government presenting a united front, reports have suggested some Nationals MPs are frustrated by the ministerial reshuffle, which failed to deliver the party an additional portfolio and split the agricultural portfolio between two ministers.
Anthony Albanese has been confirmed as Opposition Leader and Richard Marles as Deputy Leader following a Labor Caucus meeting in Canberra on Thursday. Mr Albanese spoke to the importance of equal representation of men and women in leadership, and announced that Senator Penny Wong will retain her role as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Senator Kristina Keneally has been appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate after SA Senator Don Farrell bowed out of the race. Mr Albanese is expected to allocate portfolio responsibilities in the coming days, before the Shadow Ministry will reportedly meet in Brisbane next Tuesday.
The Prime Minister has touted the first week of July as the likely opening of the 46th Parliament, in order to pass legislation as soon as possible to implement the Coalition’s $158 billion income tax cut commitments. Separately, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced he will commission a review of the retirement income system, as recommended by the Productivity Commission, including a review of the interaction of superannuation, government pensions and, potentially, taxation. The Treasurer said the Productivity Commission and the Royal Commission findings made it clear that there is a strong case to improve the overall efficiency of the system. Full details are yet to emerge, but commentators have recalled the Prime Minister’s commitment not to amend taxation of superannuation during the election campaign.
The Government’s ‘big stick’ energy policy was back on the agenda this week, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor revealing that the proposed laws would be a priority for the Government when Parliament returns. The Bill failed to pass parliament in March of this year, facing opposition from both Labor and the Greens. The legislation has drawn heavy criticism from energy companies who have labelled the proposed changes as “extreme”. Minister Taylor has attributed the Bill’s priority to a lack of action by state governments on power supply shortages, risking “dire consequences”.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed a new timeline for the Adani Carmichael coal mine approval process, recently released by the State’s Coordinator-General. Adani’s Black-throated Finch Management Plan (BTFMP) was approved today – with conditions – and a decision on the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) is due by 13 June. Queensland Senator and Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan has embraced the news, while new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has refused to reveal his position on the project, saying “it’s up to markets themselves” to determine the economic case for the proposed mine.
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