GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM’s first post-election trip abroad
7 June 2019
- The Prime Minister has embarked on a trip to the Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom and Singapore this week.
- Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has unveiled his full Shadow Cabinet.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia has reduced the official cash rate to 1.25 per cent.
- The AFP raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst, and the ABC offices in Sydney.
The Prime Minister departed Australia on Sunday for a five-day trip to the Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Beginning in Honiara, the PM announced $250 million in funding for an office complex to house the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The PM and his wife then made their way to the UK where they met with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May and British economic and security officials. Mr Morrison delivered an address to the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce before joining world leaders on Wednesday at the 75th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings. The PM will end his trip in Singapore where he will be joined by Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham for the Annual Leaders Meeting with the Singaporean Prime Minister and delegation.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has unveiled his new shadow ministerial line-up. The shake-up includes several key changes, with Queensland MP Jim Chalmers taking on the Shadow Treasury portfolio along with Senator Katy Gallagher in the Shadow Finance and Public Service role. Labor has included the Shadow Home Affairs portfolio in its line up for the first time, appointing Deputy Senate Leader Kristina Keneally to the position. Chris Bowen will assume responsibility for Health, while former Labor Leader Bill Shorten has been appointed spokesperson for the NDIS and Government Services. Finally, Catherine King has moved into the role of Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.
On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that the official cash rate had been cut to a record low of 1.25 per cent – the first shift in 34 months. The RBA explained the cut is intended to support growth in employment as well as provide greater certainty on medium-term target inflation rates. Following the announcement, CBA and NAB announced they will pass on the full rate cut to consumers, while ANZ and Westpac have drawn heavy criticism from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in announcing only a partial cut. The Treasurer said he was “very disappointed” with the decision and drew a link with the behaviour that was uncovered during the Financial Services Royal Commission. Meanwhile, the National Accounts released on Wednesday revealed a further slump in economic growth to figures not seen since the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. The economy grew by 0.4 per cent during the first quarter with total growth over the current year at 1.8 per cent. The results have been attributed to weak household spending and waning infrastructure investment and construction.
Press freedom was a topical issue this week, following two separate raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst was raided on Tuesday as part of an investigation relating to a 2018 story into alleged covert discussions to grant government agencies wider cyber intelligence powers. A day later, the ABC’s offices in Sydney were also raided as part of a separate investigation into the ‘Afghan Files’, a series of stories published by the ABC in 2017 on elite troops stationed in Afghanistan. When asked about the events, the PM distanced the Government from the actions of the AFP and said that his Government “is absolutely committed to freedom of the press”.
The WA, Tasmanian and Queensland Parliaments will sit next week, when the Queensland 2019-20 Budget will be handed down. Budget Estimates will take place in both the NT and ACT.