GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Winter Break campaigns heat up
- The Government has gained some ground in the polls, as parties ramp up their campaigns ahead of the five Super Saturday by-elections.
- Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced reforms to the GST.
- Energy policy has continued to cause tension within the Coalition.
- Victorian Labor MPs Michael Danby and Jenny Macklin have announced their retirements ahead of the next Federal Election.
- A possible legal battle is on the horizon following comments made by Senator Leyonhjelm to Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
The Turnbull Government has enjoyed a boost in the polls this week, with the latest Newspoll revealing the gap between the two major parties has been halved to two points on a two-party preferred basis. Labor remains in the lead on 51, compared to the Coalition’s 49 per cent. The Government’s primary vote has increased by one point to 39 per cent, while Labor’s primary vote is down one point to 37. As expected, both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are using the parliamentary winter recess to visit key electorates ahead of the Super Saturday by-elections on 28 July, for which candidate nominations closed yesterday.
On the road again
Prime Minister Turnbull visited South Australia’s Kangaroo Island this week, where he was joined by Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer to unveil the $18 million expansion of Kangaroo Island Airport, alongside SA Premier Steven Marshall. While there, the PM also announced $750,000 in funding to upgrade a walking trail at Prospect Hill on the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has continued his town hall roadshow, meeting voters in Tasmania with Braddon Labor candidate Justine Keay.
GST reform on the horizon
Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced the Turnbull Government’s proposed reforms to the GST system in an interim response to the Productivity Commission’s report into Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation. The Government has proposed a model which will involve benchmarking all states and territories to the economies of NSW or Victoria (whichever is higher), to alleviate volatility by removing the effects of “extreme circumstances”, such as mining booms. A key component of the proposed reforms is that no state will be “worse off”. Western Australia is the major beneficiary of the proposed reforms, with the State expected to receive an increase in $4.7 billion in GST payments by 2026-2027. Labor has expressed concern as to where the funds will be drawn from for the additional top-up payments, while NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said states that have “driven economic reform” – such as NSW – should not be penalised.
Climate of conflict
Internal Coalition discussion around energy policy continued this week, with calls from former PM Tony Abbott for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which he signed up to as PM three years ago. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has hit back, reaffirming the Government’s commitment to the set emissions reduction targets. The call comes amid ongoing debate in Coalition ranks over the Government’s signature energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), with Mr Abbott’s comments suggesting he may cross the floor in Parliament to vote against the legislation.
Veteran Federal Labor MPs Michael Danby and Jenny Macklin have both announced they will retire ahead of the next Federal Election. Mr Danby has represented the seat of Melbourne Ports since 1998, while Ms Macklin was first elected as the member for Jagajaga in 1996. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Ms Macklin as a “legend” who “changed the country in her quiet way”. Reports have indicated that Victorian preselections for the next Federal Election may be determined by the Liberals’ Administrative Committee and Labor’s National Executive, in a controversial move that would prevent participation by rank-and-file party members.
Hanson-Young v Leyonhjelm
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has sought an apology and compensation from Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm, following controversial comments he made in the Senate Chamber last week and in subsequent media interviews concerning Senator Hanson-Young’s personal life. Senator Leyonhjelm has refused to back down from what he has termed a “politically correct lynch mob”, saying Senator Hanson-Young’s legal claim is “without merit”. It is understood Senator Hanson-Young has provided Senator Leyonhjelm with one week to comply, or face further legal action.