National Political Update
In the lead up to the return of the Federal Parliament in Canberra next week, this week saw Prime Minister Tony Abbott deliver his second National Press Club address as Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister’s address expressed the Government’s agenda for 2015, focusing on a number of key policy platforms: national security, economic management, parental leave payments and small business policy.
The Prime Minister announced that, notwithstanding the merits of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, it will be substituted in favour of a policy to strengthen childcare affordability, given the current economic climate.
The Prime Minister also announced a new small business and jobs policy; the heart of which is a cut in small business company tax of 1.5 percent.
On other policy fronts, the Prime Minister reinforced his commitment to strengthen laws combatting terrorism in Australia and abroad; to crack down on foreign investment that is not in Australia’s economic interest; to ease cost of living pressures on families; and to build new infrastructure and cut government waste.
Following the Monday address, Cabinet sat for two days this week, and received a briefing by new Treasury Secretary, John Fraser, and RBA chief, Glenn Stevens, on the current economic situation in Australia.
The Liberal Party room will meet next Tuesday, where it is expected that the leadership of the party will be discussed.
For a transcript of the Prime Minister’s National Press Club Address, click here.
Following its landslide victory in 2012, the Queensland Liberal National Party suffered an unprecedented swing at Saturday’s election, resulting in a loss of more than 35 seats and potentially government.
At the time of writing, the count shows that Labor is likely to have won 42 seats, and that the LNP has won 38. Labor needs 45 seats to form government in its own right, but has made an agreement with Independent MP, Peter Wellington, in an attempt to form government. With four seats still in play and a high number of postal votes still to be counted, which party will form government is yet to be determined.
The two members of Katter’s Australian Party are yet to announce which party they will support.
Despite Campbell Newman losing his seat of Ashgrove, he remains as Premier in caretaker mode until the final count, and therefore the result as to who will form government, is announced. The final declaration of seats will happen on Tuesday, 10 February 2015, and the Governor will then be in a position to appoint the new Ministry.
The LNP will meet on Saturday to elect a new leader, following Campbell Newman’s announcement that he will retire from politics.
Northern Territory Government
At 1am on Tuesday morning, then Minister for Primary Industries and Member for Katherine, Mr Willem Westra van Holthe MP, announced during a press conference that Chief Minister Adam Giles MP had lost support of the Country Liberal party room and should resign as Chief Minister.
Mr Westra van Holthe announced in the press conference that he would take over as Chief Minister, with Attorney General and Member for Port Darwin, John Elferink MP as Deputy.
Despite the announcement, Chief Minister Giles refused to step down, citing the fact that Mr Westra van Holthe did not have the numbers to dispose him as leader.
Following this, a parliamentary wing meeting took place on Tuesday night at 7pm, where it was decided that Mr Giles would stay on as Chief Minister, with Mr Westra van Holthe as Deputy Leader.
South Australian Government
On Monday, 2 February 2015, Hon. Jennifer Rankine MP, Labor Minister for Education and Child Development, announced her resignation from Cabinet. This has led to a reshuffle in South Australia’s Cabinet.
Premier Jay Weatherill announced that Legislative Council member Kyam Maher MLC has been elevated to the Cabinet. Mr Maher has been appointed Aboriginal Affairs and Manufacturing Minister, with Ian Hunter MLC moving from that portfolio to the Climate Change portfolio. Attorney-General and Deputy Premier John Rau MP has picked up the Child Protection portfolio.
The vacant Education and Child Development portfolio left by Ms Rankine was given to Hon. Susan Close MP. Ms Close was formerly the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation. Another change to Cabinet sees Katrine Hildyard MP, a member of the Social Development Committee, promoted to Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier.
Former National Party Leader Peter Ryan has resigned from Victorian politics, ending a 22 year career in Victoria’s Parliament. Mr Ryan was the leader of the Victorian National Party for 15 years, until he stepped down from the role in December last year.
Mr Ryan’s resignation means there will be a by-election in his seat of Gippsland South, which he had held since 1992. The National Party currently holds a 15.7% margin in the seat. National Party Legislative Council member Danny O’Brien is expected to nominate for the seat. Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber has said his party will have a candidate in the by-election, while Labor has not yet announced whether they will contest the by-election.
A date for the Gippsland South by-election is yet to be announced.