GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM tours Sunshine State
- The PM made a range of policy and funding announcements while travelling across Queensland this week, and has secured the support of crossbench MP Bob Katter on matters of confidence and supply.
- NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.
- Negative gearing is back up for debate.
- The Government has responded to concerns around My Health Record.
- Victoria’s pre-election Budget Update has revealed positive economic news for the Labor Government ahead of the 24 November State Election.
- Former Labor leader Mark Latham announced he will join One Nation and run for a seat in the NSW Parliament.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit the road this week aboard the ‘ScoMo Express’, making several announcements in key marginal seats across Queensland to spruik the Government’s investment in infrastructure and action on national security and cost-of-living concerns. Early in the week, the PM announced $200 million to secure Townsville’s long-term water supply through Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline extension, and $112 million for the 6.4km extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads. Meanwhile, Kerryn Phelps has formally been declared winner of the Wentworth by-election, as the Government prepares to enter a Senate-only sitting week.
Morrison and Katter play politics
The PM has also pledged $230 million for Queensland water projects in exchange for the support of maverick crossbench MP Bob Katter in Parliament on issues of confidence and supply. Additionally, Mr Katter has indicated he is unlikely to support a motion to refer Chris Crewther to the High Court, after questions were raised over the Victorian Liberal MP’s eligibility. The PM said the agreement with Mr Katter would “protect against political disruption by the opposition”.
NSW Opposition Leader resigns
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley resigned yesterday following allegations of sexual harassment toward an ABC journalist. Following weeks of speculation, details of the alleged 2016 incident were outlined in a statement issued by the journalist yesterday. Deputy Leader Michael Daley has confirmed he will nominate for Leader at a Labor caucus meeting tomorrow. It is anticipated that Upper House member Penny Sharpe will be a candidate for deputy leader. Mr Foley has denied the allegations and indicated his intention to take legal action for defamation.
Negative gearing debate continues
Labor’s plan to scrap negative gearing is back in the spotlight, following the release of Government analysis showing that Labor-held electorates across Victoria, South Australia and the ACT have the highest concentration of negatively-geared investment properties. On the back of this analysis, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg labelled Labor’s negative gearing plans as “shambolic”, insisting that investors will be worse off under Labor. Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has dismissed the analysis, saying “this is just a bald faced lie.”
My Health Record
The Government has announced it will introduce further legislative amendments to allay concerns around data and privacy in the My Health Record system. The proposed amendments – which follow a Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee review – will increase penalties for improper use of the system; and introduce measures to prevent workplace discrimination based on health data.
Victorian campaigns continue
The Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance has released the pre-election Budget Update, confirming the creation of 390,000 jobs since Labor’s election in 2014; a 2018/19 projected budget surplus of $2.3 billion, growing over the forward estimates; and improved economic growth of 3.0 per cent. Meanwhile, the Liberal Opposition has announced that, if elected, it will construct a new 1,300-bed prison in Melbourne’s south-west. To catch up on the Victorian election campaign, see the latest edition of GRACosway’s Victoria Votes 2018.
Latham joins One Nation
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is set to gain a new party member, with the announcement that Mark Latham will run as a candidate for the NSW Upper House. Mr Latham said that his new party will provide “practical, common sense solutions” for voters in NSW. Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen labelled the former Federal Labor leader a “sad and pathetic joke” and said that Mr Latham and Senator Hanson “deserve each other”. Mr Latham also had a short-lived stint as a member of the Liberal Democrats in 2017.