GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Turnbull’s 30th Newspoll Loss
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has lost his 30th consecutive Newspoll.
- The Federal Government has promised $5 billion towards a Melbourne Airport rail link, and $1 billion to upgrade Queensland’s M1 motorway.
- Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg gave an address on energy policy to the National Press Club.
- In global news, the US may re-join the TPP; and PM Turnbull has cautioned against any Chinese military presence in the Pacific.
- An investigation into allegedly unfair ATO practices has been announced.
- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has flagged a potential electorate move to Fraser, while the South Australian seat of Port Adelaide is set to be abolished.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has faced his 30th consecutive Newspoll loss this week, a benchmark used to oust former party leader Tony Abbott in 2015. The results revealed a two-party preferred vote of 48 to 52, with Labor’s lead diminishing by two points since previous polling. The Coalition’s primary vote has climbed from 37 to 38 points, above Labor’s 37. Senior ministers Josh Frydenberg, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison have rallied behind Mr Turnbull, while also making clear their future leadership aspirations; Mr Turnbull assured voters he has the confidence of his colleagues. Former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce called on Mr Turnbull to do the “honourable thing” and resign if the polls don’t improve by Christmas, however the PM has rejected his former deputy’s deadline, confirming he will lead the Coalition to the next election.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
In infrastructure this week, the Federal Government has pledged up to $5 billion to assist in building the long-awaited rail link between Melbourne Airport and the CBD. Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has welcomed the record funding, saying the State Government is “obviously happy” to work with the Commonwealth to make the project a reality. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Turnbull has announced $1 billion in funding to ease congestion on Queensland’s M1 Motorway. The news was announced in the State’s marginal federal seat of Forde, and follows $150 million promised last week to upgrade the Bruce Highway, also flanked by marginal seats.
Turning Up the Heat
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has called for all governments to “put ideology aside” and accept the Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG), as part of an address to the National Press Club this week. Pushing for “sensible, workable, affordable market based solutions”, he stressed that energy policy should not be fought on political “battlelines”, alluding to both the differences of opinion within his own party and across the political spectrum. Minister Frydenberg also called on power retailers “to pass on every dollar of lower costs to their customers” following the recent 20 per cent drop in wholesale power prices. Meanwhile, the states have echoed previous calls for further detail of the NEG, which the Energy Minister has promised will be delivered by the Energy Security Board ahead of the COAG Energy Council meeting next Friday.
Trade and Defence
In international news, US President Donald Trump has flagged a potential return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, after pulling out last year. Eleven other nations, including Australia, revived the deal in March. Still on the global stage, Prime Minister Turnbull has cautioned the government of Vanuatu against allowing Chinese armed forces to establish a military base in the Pacific Island country, which sits less than 2,000km from Australian shores. Vanuatu has denied it is in talks with Beijing.
ATO in Spotlight
Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer has ordered an immediate investigation into the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) following a joint Fairfax and Four Corners report on alleged unfair treatment of small businesses and individuals. Minister O’Dwyer said she is “deeply concerned” over the allegations of unethical revenue raising measures.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has flagged a potential shift from the seat of Maribyrnong, which he has represented since entering Parliament more than a decade ago, to the new seat of Fraser. The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) proposed electoral redistribution has split Mr Shorten’s electorate, reducing the margin from 12.3 per cent to 10.5. Meanwhile in SA, the AEC has today recommended the seat of Port Adelaide – held by Labor’s Mark Butler – should be abolished in response to population changes. The seat of Wakefield would be renamed ‘Spence’ under the AEC’s proposal.