GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM in Vietnam for economic and security talks

23 August 2019
  • The latest Newspoll has revealed a 2PP result of 51-49 per cent to the Coalition.
  • Former Nationals Leader and Deputy PM Tim Fischer has died at age 73 after a battle with leukaemia.
  • The PM visited Adelaide over the weekend, before flying to Hanoi for diplomatic discussions with the Vietnamese Prime Minister.
  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released the Financial Services Royal Commission Implementation Roadmap.
  • Energy security continued to dominate headlines, following the release of a new AEMO report.
  • The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division has launched a class action against labour-hire firm WorkPac, seeking over $12 million in leave entitlements for around 600 coalminers who were allegedly misclassified as casual workers.
The latest Newspoll has revealed a two-point slip in the Coalition’s lead over Labor since the May election, now 51-49 per cent on two-party preferred terms. The Government’s primary vote has also suffered a two-point drop to 42 per cent, while Labor’s has improved by one point to 34. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s net satisfaction has also taken a hit, but he remains the preferred PM over Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. Prime Minister Morrison delivered an address at the South Australian Liberal Party Annual General Meeting over the weekend, using the opportunity to criticise activist group GetUp! for its role in the recent election campaign. Later in the week in Canberra, he spoke at the Institute of Public Administration, urging the public service to focus on “quiet Australians” and look beyond the “highly organised and well-resourced interests” that dominate the Canberra “bubble”.

The PM touched down in Hanoi on Thursday to meet with the Prime Minister of Vietnam and discuss ways to improve Australia’s economic and security ties with the southeast Asian nation. As an important reinforcement of diplomatic ties, the visit marks the first time an Australian PM has made a standalone trip to Vietnam since Paul Keating’s visit in 1994. The leaders will also discuss key issues such as trade and investment between the two nations, and concerns around pollution and illegal fishing in surrounding oceans. In other international news, the Government has committed to joining US-led efforts to protect shipping routes in the Persian Gulf, to combat Iran’s actions in the Strait of Hormuz. Mr Morrison described Australia’s contribution to the security mission as “modest, meaningful and time limited”.

Political leaders have paused to pay tribute to former Deputy PM and Nationals Leader Tim Fischer, who died on Thursday, aged 73. Mr Fischer served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Howard Government from March 1996 to July 1999 and led the Nationals for nine years. He is remembered for the part he played in reforming Australia’s gun laws in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre, despite backlash from regional Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Mr Fischer as an “all in conviction politician”, while Deputy PM and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack said “regional Australia had no better friend than Tim”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has released an “implementation roadmap” for the 54 recommendations made by the Financial Services Royal Commission which called for government action. According to the Treasurer, over 50 measures will be implemented or will be subject to legislation by mid-2020, representing the “most comprehensive” reform package in three decades. Political opponents have alternatively accused the Government of dragging its heels on reform efforts, with Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers saying the Government is “only reluctantly and belatedly responding to the shocking issues that have been raised”. In related news, Parliament’s economics committee has flagged that it will recall representatives from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) before the year’s end, to determine whether the regulator has made progress on issues raised in the recent capability review, led by Graeme Samuel AC.

A new report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has warned that up to 1.3 million Victorian households will face a potential power blackout during periods of extreme heat over the upcoming summer months, if no action is taken to secure supply. According to the report, the two offline power stations in Victoria, Loy Yang A and Mortlake 2, will “pose a significant risk of insufficient supply” if not fixed before the peak demand period. Energy Minister Angus Taylor has used the opportunity to criticise the Victorian Government’s energy policies, such as encouraging “premature” closure of coal-fired power stations; moving too quickly towards renewable energy sources; and introducing a moratorium on onshore gas exploration.

Looking ahead, the NSW, Victorian and WA parliaments will sit next week.


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