GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Tax cuts pass the Parliament
- The 46th Parliament has met for the first time and the Government’s tax cuts package has passed through both Houses.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has lowered interest rates for the second month in a row – the first back-to-back cut since 2012.
- Incoming NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay has unveiled her new Shadow Cabinet.
- Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman announced a ministerial reshuffle over the weekend.
- Discussion is heating up over press freedom, religious freedoms and possible changes to anti-terror laws.
- Australian student Alek Sigley was released from detention in North Korea, following efforts by Australian officials working with the Swedish Government.
The Reserve Bank cut interest rates to a record low of 1 per cent on Tuesday, with RBA Governor Philip Lowe citing rising unemployment and global trade disputes as factors behind the decision. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was quick to say that the Government and the RBA were “kicking in the same direction” and that the RBA announcement strengthened the Coalition’s resolve to pass on tax cuts to working Australians. Governor Lowe also noted increased infrastructure spending could stimulate the economy, while Senator Cormann highlighted the Government’s current infrastructure program and action on power prices.
Attorney General Christian Porter and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher met with a delegation of media heavyweights in Parliament House on Wednesday to further discuss press freedom. The group sought clarification on whether News Corp and ABC journalists could be prosecuted for their reports based on documents leaked from the Department of Defence. Competing proposals for a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom were canvassed during the week, with Cabinet agreeing to establish an inquiry through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.
On religious freedom, reports indicate that the Government may introduce legislation in the next sitting week to establish a new Religious Discrimination Act, which would make it unlawful to discriminate against people based on religious beliefs. Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is making moves to give himself new powers to prevent Australians suspected of extremism overseas from returning to Australia for up to two years. Mr Dutton said Tuesday’s anti-terror operation further reiterated the need for such measures.