BAILLIEU RESIGNS – DENIS NAPTHINE NEW VICTORIAN PREMIER

The former Victorian Liberal leader, Denis Napthine, has been re-elected tonight and will become Premier following the resignation of Ted Baillieu.

Liberal MPs were given ten minutes notice of a party-room meeting to be held at 7pm tonight. Baillieu offered his resignation to the partyroom and Denis Napthine was elected in his place.

Napthine

Baillieu spoke to the media just before 8pm. He offered no reason for his resignation other than the need for new leadership. He said he would remain in parliament.

Baillieu

Napthine’s media conference ended abruptly with the ringing of the division bells in the Legislative Assembly. He spoke emotionally of his regard for Baillieu but seemed otherwise unprepared for his elevation to the premiership.

Napthine

The political drama follows several days of upheaval over the publication of tape recorded conversations involving Baillieu’s Chief of Staff, Tony Nutt, a former Liberal candidate, Tristan Weston, and the Liberal Party State Director, Damien Mantach.

Earlier today, the Liberal member for Frankston, Geoff Shaw, resigned from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent. He cited lack of confidence in the government’s leadership as his reason. His resignation reduced the government’s two-seat majority to one. Some reports suggest Shaw may have delivered an ultimatum to the Liberal Party.

Napthine was leader of the Liberal Party following its surprise defeat in the 1999 election. He was replaced by Robert Doyle just months before the 2002 election. Doyle was replaced by Ted Baillieu in 2006. Baillieu led the Liberals to defeat in the 2006 election before narrowly winning the 2010 election.

Ted Baillieu saw the Governor, Alex Chernov, at approximately 9.50pm tonight and tendered his resignation. Denis Napthine was sworn in at 10.20pm. He is Victoria’s 47th Premier since 1855.

Baillieu has held a press conference confirming his resignation.

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Statement from Geoff Shaw, Liberal MP for Frankston.

Released from his electorate office at 6.23pm.

This morning I advised the Premier of Victoria of my resignation from the Parliamentary Liberal Party, effective immediately. [Read more…]


John Forrest, Nationals Member For Mallee, Announces Retirement

John Forrest, The Nationals member for Mallee since 1993, has announced he will retire from the House of Representatives at this year’s federal election.

ForrestMallee, in north-western Victoria, is the safest Coalition electorate in the nation. Forrest won it in 2010 with 74.41% of the two-party-preferred vote. He secured 66.79% of the primary vote. The ALP polled 19.89%.

There has been a redistribution in Victoria. Mallee’s margin is now estimated to be 23.3%.

Mallee includes the towns of Mildura in the north, Warracknabeal, St Arnaud and Horsham in the south, and Swan Hill and Kerang in the east. It has been held by The Nationals, formerly the Country Party, since its creation in 1949. Forrest is only its third member in that time.

Forrest is the thirteenth member of the House of Representatives to opt for retirement at this year’s election.

It is not clear at this stage if the Liberal Party will nominate a candidate in Mallee. Three-cornered contests involving the Coalition usually only occur when a seat is vacant.

Text of statement published on John Forrest’s website:

The Nationals thank John Forrest

The Nationals Federal President, Mrs Christine Ferguson has paid tribute to John Forrest following his announcement today that he will retire from the Federal Parliament after 20 years of outstanding service at the next Federal election. [Read more…]


Reserve Bank Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

At its monthly meeting today, the Reserve Bank of Australia has left the cash rate unaltered.

The cash rate has been 3.0 per cent since the Reserve’s December board meeting.

Statement from Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 3.0 per cent.

Global growth is forecast to be a little below average for a time, but the downside risks appear to have lessened over recent months. The United States is experiencing a moderate expansion and financial strains in Europe are considerably reduced compared with the situation through much of last year. Growth in China has stabilised at a fairly robust pace. Around Asia generally, growth was dampened by the earlier slowing in China and the weakness in Europe, but again there are signs of stabilisation. Commodity prices are little changed recently, at reasonably high levels.

Sentiment in financial markets is much improved compared with the middle of last year. Risk spreads have narrowed and funding conditions for financial institutions are more favourable. Long-term interest rates faced by highly rated sovereigns, including Australia, remain at exceptionally low levels. Borrowing conditions for large corporations are very attractive. Share prices have risen substantially from their low points. However, the task of putting private and public finances on sustainable paths in several major countries is far from complete. Accordingly, as seen most recently in Europe, financial markets remain vulnerable to occasional setbacks. [Read more…]


Anthony Albanese: Driving Productivity Through Infrastructure

The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, has outlined the federal government’s approach to infrastructure and productivity in an address to The Sydney Institute.

Albanese

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Transcript of Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese’s speech to The Sydney Institute.

Infrastructure: Driving Productivity

INTRODUCTION

“Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.”

So said Paul Krugman in his “The Age of Diminished Expectations”.

It’s no secret that Australia’s overall productivity rate has fallen over the past decade.

There are some who argue that the solution lies totally in industrial relations.

This is ideologically driven.

The fact is that Australia’s labour productivity is in the top dozen of international performers.

As the Australian National University’s Dean Parham pointed out recently, in recent years labour productivity has increased by 3.3 per cent per year.

Whilst this has occurred, capital productivity has actually declined by 4.3 per cent.

So the truth is that addressing productivity requires more than the simplistic slogans of those who would seek to return to WorkChoices under another name. [Read more…]


Gillard Offers Western Sydney Motorway Funding With Conditions

On the first full day of her week-long campaign in western Sydney, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised funding for the western Sydney motorway network, provided the state government comes up with an acceptable business plan.

Speaking beside a noisy motorway with Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and Labor MPs from western Sydney, Gillard stipulated several conditions for her government’s support for WestConnex project.

Gillard

She said the NSW government needed to ensure direct routes through the central business district and Port Botany, and ensure that freight can be taken directly from the M5 to Port Botany. She said existing roads should remain toll-free.

“I’ll make a funding offer on the day I see an appropriate plan,” she told reporters at the media conference.

Gillard was flanked by Labor MPs Chris Bowen (McMahon), David Bradbury (Lindsay), Jason Clare (Blaxland), Ed Husic (Chifley) and Michelle Rowland (Greenway).

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Statement from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Federal funding for Western Sydney Motorway

The Federal Government has committed to providing funds towards the Westconnex road project, if planning currently underway identifies a detailed business case and direct routes through to the CBD and Port Botany.

This is part of our commitment to support jobs and growth in Sydney.

This infrastructure commitment is also helping western and south-western Sydney residents to cut back on travel times and improve the quality of life they can enjoy with their families. [Read more…]