GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Will the NEG be guaranteed?
10 August 2018
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull toured drought affected parts of NSW at the weekend, pledging further government relief funds for struggling farmers.
- Federal, state and territory energy ministers are attending a COAG Energy Council meeting today where they will discuss the future of the National Energy Guarantee.
- Western Sydney MP Emma Husar has announced she won’t recontest her seat at the next election, following allegations of misconduct.
- The Treasurer has vowed to seek the support of the states to remove the GST from women’s sanitary items.
- In NSW state politics, voters in the seat of Wagga Wagga will vote in a by-election on September 8.
Turnbull promises further drought relief
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised further government assistance for farmers struggling with the impacts of severe drought, after visiting regional NSW over the weekend. Meeting with farmers in Trangie near Dubbo, Prime Minister Turnbull called the drought “shocking” and pledged special emergency payments for eligible farmers, to be delivered through the Farm Household Allowance scheme. The $190 million announcement will see additional lump-sum cash payments of up to $12,000 for eligible households as well as additional funding for mental health support and financial counselling. The announcement comes as the NSW Department of Primary Industries confirmed this week that 100 per cent of the state is now in drought.
NEG negotiations in the spotlight
Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg is joining his state and territory counterparts at the COAG Energy Council meeting in Sydney today, in a bid to secure unanimous agreement for the government’s signature energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). Coalition state governments have backed the plan, saying a national energy policy is essential to reduce prices and secure reliability. Labor governments in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT reportedly still have questions about the policy, including concerns about emissions reduction targets. Should the NEG receive state and territory agreement today, it will then be put to the Coalition party room for approval on Tuesday before going back to the states for final sign-off.
Key energy stakeholders including the Australian Industry Group, the Clean Energy Council, Energy Networks Australia and Chemistry Australia have released a joint statement urging governments to adopt the NEG. The stakeholders contend that the NEG is the best mechanism to pursue emissions reduction and maintain the reliability of the market and argue that there are no viable alternatives on offer.
MPs call time
Embattled Western Sydney Labor MP Emma Husar has announced she will not recontest her federal seat of Lindsay at the next election, saying her reputation has been “shredded by nameless, faceless people”. The announcement comes after allegations of misconduct in relation to Ms Husar’s use of travel entitlements and treatment of her staff. An independent NSW Labor Party investigation is underway and Prime Minister Turnbull is expected to call on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to provide the final report of the investigation to the Department of Finance.
Meanwhile, NSW Nationals MP and former junior minister Luke Hartsukyer has also announced he will retire from Federal Parliament at the next election. Mr Hartsuyker most recently served as the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, before being dropped from the frontbench earlier this year.
Tampon tax to face axe
Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced plans to scrap the GST that applies to women’s sanitary products, pledging to seek the support of his state and territory counterparts at the next meeting of Australian treasurers. The announcement comes after years of lobbying from community groups and follows a similar commitment from Labor earlier this year. The Opposition has welcomed the move while arguing the Government should develop a strategy to replace the lost revenue. Labor has previously proposed to make up the shortfall by applying the GST to some alternative therapies.
Wagga Wagga prepares for poll
Voters in the NSW state seat of Wagga Wagga will face a by-election on September 8 after disgraced former government MP Daryl Maguire formally tendered his resignation this week. Mr Maguire initially stood aside from the Liberal Party after allegations of corruption emerged from an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearing in July, Mr Maguire initially stood aside from the Liberal Party but following discussions with Premier Gladys Berejiklian he confirmed he would resign from the parliament altogether. The Coalition have agreed that only the Liberals will run in the seat, avoiding a three-cornered contest.
The Federal, NSW, WA, ACT and NT Parliaments are sitting next week.