GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Pollies Sweat on Poll Results
16 March 2018
- Voters will head to the polls tomorrow for the South Australian election and the Batman by-election, presenting tests for both sides of politics.
- Also on this weekend is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Sydney.
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited BlueScope Steel this week to promote the US Government decision to exempt Australia from steel and aluminium export tariffs.
- Labor has faced backlash over its plan to remove $59 billion in refundable tax credits on share dividends.
- Australia and Vietnam have signed a strategic partnership agreement, following a visit from Mr Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
PM On the Road Again
Prime Minister Turnbull spent time in Adelaide at the weekend, campaigning with SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall ahead of this Saturday’s South Australian election. Describing Mr Marshall as an “absolute vital necessity” for SA, the PM is confident the Liberal Party will form government, saying “I have great faith that the people of South Australia will recognise they need an advocate for jobs, an advocate for business and investment in this state”. Mr Turnbull’s next stop was BlueScope Steel in Port Kembla, where he hailed the “win-win” US Government decision to exempt Australia from steel and aluminium export tariffs. Later in the week, the PM signed a strategic partnership with Vietnam, establishing annual meetings and new economic dialogue, with cooperation in the areas of agriculture, innovation, science and technology, vocational education and skills.
The Prime Minister faced questions this week over the poll benchmark he set when challenging former PM Tony Abbott’s leadership in 2015. Having cited Mr Abbott’s 30 consecutively lost Newspoll results as a reason for the challenge, Mr Turnbull may soon face the same reality, with the Coalition trailing Labor for the 28th time in last week’s Newspoll. The Prime Minister also confirmed this year’s Federal Budget – now eight weeks away – will focus on “jobs and opportunity”, while protecting essential services and bringing the budget back into surplus. Committing once more to his Government’s proposed company tax cuts, Mr Turnbull also gave another indication that personal income tax cuts will form part of the budget.
Rheinmetall has secured the contract to deliver the Land 400 program in Queensland, edging out its competitor BAE Systems. Prime Minister Turnbull said the contract is the “largest single acquisition that has been made for the Australian Army” and will create 1,450 jobs. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk conceded that only $1.8 billion of the $5 billion contract will be spent in her State, but spoke of “the indirect benefit, the flow-on jobs, the thousands of suppliers in the supply chain” who will benefit from the project. Meanwhile, Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has been removed from his position following two reviews into his conduct with a female staff member; it is expected his dismissal will trigger a restructure in the new Home Affairs super-ministry.
Labor has faced backlash over its proposed plan to remove $59 billion in refundable tax credits on share dividends, largely impacting retirees. According to Treasurer Scott Morrison, the Opposition’s “incompetence on tax policy” would result in “a complete circus” under a Labor Government. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has rejected calls to water down the proposal, saying Labor was braced for “a tough debate” on the matter.
South Australians will head to the polls tomorrow, marking the peak of what has been widely described as the most unusual and unpredictable election campaign in the State’s history. Despite appearing as a legitimate contender to form government just weeks ago, polls suggest Nick Xenophon’s SA Best now looks likely to pick up only a few seats, with Mr Xenophon himself no longer the favourite in his seat of Hartley. Labor will defend its 16 years in government in what is expected to be an extremely tight race with the Liberal Party. Read the full analysis in this week’s issue of ‘SA Votes’.
Recent private party polling suggests the weekend vote for the Federal seat of Batman will be a close call between Labor’s Ged Kearney and Greens candidate Alex Bhathal. The Greens are hoping to secure a second Lower House seat, and have tapped into anti-Adani sentiment to challenge Labor in the key marginal electorate, however have been plagued by internal divisions.
The Senate will sit next week, along with the Queensland, WA, ACT and NT parliaments.