GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Next steps in Hayne Implementation

2 August 2019

  • Federal Parliament sat this week, with financial services at the top of the Government’s agenda, along with industrial relations legislation.
  • Victorian MPs Josh Frydenberg and Gladys Liu are facing High Court challenges over the May election results.
  • Attorney-General Christian Porter has referred allegations of corruption involving Crown Resorts and government agencies to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.
  • The 2019 HILDA report was released, showing flat income growth and adding fuel to the Newstart debate.
  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced the House Economics Committee will examine financial institutions’ progress toward implementing the Hayne Royal Commission recommendations.
  • Federal Parliament is now officially on winter break and will return on 9 September.
The first Newspoll since the May election was published on Monday and suggests the Coalition is leading Labor 53 to 47 on a two-party preferred basis. Commentators have, however, questioned the veracity of polling data following the Coalition’s shock victory in May, which pollsters failed to predict. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in Perth at the weekend, where he addressed the WA Liberal Party state conference and thanked party faithful for their “perfect performance” at the recent election. Mr Morrison used the speech to set the tone for the week ahead, focusing on the Government’s efforts to crack down on union officials who break the law.

The Government continues to progress the implementation of recommendations made by the Hayne Royal Commission, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg releasing draft legislation to extend the unfair contract term regime to insurance contracts. The Treasurer also introduced legislation to end the payment of grandfathered conflicted remuneration to financial advisers by 2021. Meanwhile, the Government passed its highly anticipated consumer data right law, which PM Scott Morrison says will “revolutionise the way consumers and small businesses use their data”.

In other legislative news, the Lower House passed the Government’s Ensuring Integrity Bill, which is designed to make it easier to ban union officials who repeatedly break the law. The bill will be subject to a Senate inquiry before being debated in the Upper House later in the year. Meanwhile, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has re-introduced legislation that will require the ABC to increase its coverage of rural and regional issues. The move follows the release of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Digital Platforms inquiry final report last week, which recommended “stable and adequate” funding for the ABC and SBS.

Labor’s caucus meeting on Tuesday made headlines, with reports Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told colleagues they should get used to being wedged on legislation amid a more favourable Senate environment for the Government. Mr Albanese reportedly likened the Government’s position to the period following the 2004 election, when the Howard Government won a Senate majority. Labor also discussed its approach to government legislation to combat child exploitation, which includes mandatory sentences for some offences. Labor’s well-established position is to oppose mandatory minimum sentences, however a number of Labor MPs reportedly spoke in support of the legislation, which is part of a broader package of measures responding to the royal commission on child abuse.

The 2019 Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report was released this week, showing flat income growth and indicating that living standards have not improved for a decade. This has added fuel to the Newstart debate, with Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce weighing in saying he is “spread thin” even on an “incredibly good wage” and calling for an increase to Newstart. Meanwhile, the Government has attempted to shift the debate by highlighting figures that show dependency on welfare is at its lowest level in 30 years for working-age Australians. The PM has ruled out an increase to Newstart in this term of parliament, saying “I’m not going to lead people on about this”.

Looking ahead, the NSW, WA, Tasmanian and NT Parliaments will all sit next week.


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