GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM returns from US trip
27 September 2019
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison returns to Australia today following a week-long trip to the United States and will head to Dalby in Queensland to announce further funding for drought relief.
- While in the US, the PM announced $150 million in funding for the Australian space sector to support NASA’s planned mission to the moon and Mars.
- Mr Morrison capped off his US trip with an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, focusing on environmental issues.
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned against regulators being too tough in enforcing responsible lending laws, flagging possible negative impacts on consumer behaviour.
- The ACT has become the first Australian jurisdiction to pass legislation that legalises personal use of cannabis.
Focus turned to the United States this week where Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been on a week-long trip, spending time in Washington, Ohio, Chicago and New York. The PM’s schedule included a visit to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters in Washington, where he announced $150 million funding over five years to help Australian businesses get involved in America’s planned mission to the moon and Mars. The funding is intended to help Australian businesses support US automation systems, build equipment for spacecraft or play a role in minerals exploration.
Following the Washington leg of his trip, Mr Morrison joined US President Donald Trump in Ohio where the pair visited Australian businessman Anthony Pratt’s new paper and recycling plant in Wapakoneta. The PM then went on to Chicago where he delivered a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs which covered the US-Australia alliance, the “challenging” international environment and changes to the global economy. Prime Minister Morrison said “global trade rules are no longer fit for purpose”, while also calling for broad recognition of China as a major world power.
In New York, the Prime Minister addressed the United Nations General Assembly, reiterating Australia’s long-term support for the institution and commitment to rules-based order. Mr Morrison’s speech focused on Australia’s response to global environmental challenges and outlined the Government’s commitment to improving ocean health by addressing plastic pollution and illegal fishing. The PM also defended Australia’s record on climate change, saying critics “willingly overlook or perhaps ignore our achievements”. Earlier in the week, Mr Morrison faced criticism for choosing not to attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York; Australia was instead represented by Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
Back at home, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has used a speech at the Australian Financial Review Property Summit to emphasise the significance of the Australian property market to the national economy. The Treasurer observed that new housing investment represents nearly six per cent of GDP. He noted recent changes to lending standards through serviceability requirements and highlighted measures the Government is taking to promote home lending, including the National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation and the First Home Super Saver Scheme. Significantly, the Treasurer expressed concern about the possibility for changes to responsible lending provisions to go too far, observing “an unduly restrictive application of these obligations can do as much harm as an overly lax one”. The Treasurer’s comments come in the context of ASIC’s ongoing review of the regulatory guidance on responsible lending laws.
This week has seen major social policy developments at a state and territory level, with the passage of new legislation to decriminalise abortion in NSW and a bill to legalise personal use of cannabis in the ACT. Legislation passed through the ACT Parliament on Wednesday legalises the possession and personal cultivation of small quantities of cannabis for individual use. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has labelled the move “crazy” and confirmed the Federal Government is considering its response to the development. Meanwhile, NSW has become the last state in Australia to decriminalise abortion after a lengthy and at times heated debate. Legislation passed through the lower house for the final time yesterday.