Abbott Government To Build Second Sydney Airport At Badgerys Creek

The federal government has announced that a second Sydney airport will be built at Badgerys Creek.

Abbott

Planning for the new airport is to start immediately, with construction beginning in 2016. The government says most of the cost will be met by a private sector operator.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss, made the announcement at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

They said the initial construction phase is expected to generate around 4,000 jobs. The airport development should provide 35,000 jobs by 2035, increasing to 60,000 jobs over time. An increase of almost $24 billion in Australian gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted by 2060.

Abbott presented the decision as an infrastructure package for western Sydney and stressed that his focus was on “roads first, airport second”.

Abbott said the government was not proposing a curfew similar to the one that applies at Kingsford-Smith. This is likely to be a contentious issue for Liberal and Labor MPs in the new airport’s vicinity.

The decision to build at Badgerys Creek brings to an end a debate which began in the 1960s. The Hawke government acquired the land at Badgerys Creek in the 1980s.

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Media release from Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, and Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. [Read more...]


Government Refuses Debt Guarantee For Qantas But Will Repeal Foreign Ownership Restrictions

The federal government has refused to provide a debt guarantee or a line of credit for Qantas but says it will relax ownership restrictions by repealing Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act.

Abbott

Amongst other provisions, Part 3 restricts foreign ownership of the airline to 49%. It restricts foreign airlines from owning more than 35% of Qantas. It stipulates that maintenance jobs are based in Australia. The full text of Part 3 is available here in a popup window.

The decision was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in Canberra tonight. Abbott said there was a two hour discussion of Qantas at today’s Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister said repeal of Section 3 did not mean Qantas would become foreign owned because it would still be subject to the 49% limit imposed by the Air Navigation Act. He said the existing Qantas Sale Act 1992 places restrictions on Qantas that advantage its competitors.

Abbott said it was time Qantas was freed from the shackles of the Sale Act so that it can compete internationally. He said the government would not play favourites and that the decision was about “giving everyone a fair go”. He said Virgin was an Australian company because it employed Australians.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said repeal of the Sale Act would provide a “level playing field”. Abbott said he had “faith” in Qantas. “If Australians are allowed to have a go there is nothing we can’t do,” he said.

Legislation to repeal Part 3 may be introduced this week.

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Joint press release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Treasurer Joe Hockey.

LEVELLING THE AVIATION PLAYING FIELD

The Government will move to a single regulatory framework for all Australian international airlines.

As soon as possible, legislation will be introduced to remove the foreign ownership restrictions and conditions that apply to Qantas’ business operations contained in Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act 1992.

Removing these conditions is the best way to ensure Qantas can secure Australian jobs now and into the future.

Australians want a strong and competitive Qantas. The existing Qantas Sale Act 1992 places restrictions on Qantas that advantage its competitors.

Like all other Australian international airlines, Qantas will continue to be subject to the Air Navigation Act 1920 (ANA). The ANA applies to both Virgin Australia and Jetstar.

The ANA effectively limits total foreign ownership of Australian international airlines to 49 per cent, but does not impose the additional restrictions on business operations that apply to Qantas under the Qantas Sale Act 1992.

These changes will provide business flexibility for Qantas consistent with other airlines based in Australia.

Foreign investment will continue to be subject to consideration and approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

This is the best policy response to the difficulties currently being faced by Qantas.

Legislation will be finalised and introduced as soon as practicable. Any changes to Qantas’ operations as a result of these changes are a matter for the Qantas board and management.


Tony Abbott Fights Fires Around Nowra

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has delayed his annual holiday to join a crew from the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade that has been deployed to fight fires around Nowra.

In a media release, Abbott pointed out he has been a member of the Davidson Brigade for 12 years.

The National Party leader, Warren Truss, will be Acting Leader of the Opposition in Abbott’s absence.

  • Listen to Truss comment on the bushfires, Abbott & Peter Slipper (5m)

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Truss

Text of a media release from the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Statement from The Leader of the Opposition

Earlier this morning, a crew from the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade has been deployed to Nowra to assist with fires there.

As a consequence, I have delayed my annual holiday due to start tomorrow and for the next three days, subject to operational requirements, I will join this deployment.

I have been a member of the Davidson Brigade since 2000 and was Deputy Captain between 2008 and 2009.

During my absence, the Hon. Warren Truss MP will assume responsibility as Acting Leader of the Opposition. I thank Warren for his assistance. Tomorrow he will be visiting fire affected areas of Tasmania.

I urge all people living in areas facing fire risk at this time to monitor emergency messages carefully, activate their fire plans and stay safe.


Current Federal Parliamentary Party Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

House of Representatives
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Julia Gillard
Member for Lalor (Vic)
Wayne Swan
Member for Lilley (Qld)
Liberal Party Tony Abbott
Member for Warringah (NSW)
Julie Bishop
Member for Curtin (WA)
National Party Warren Truss
Member for Wide Bay (Qld)
Senator Nigel Scullion
Northern Territory
Australian Greens - Adam Bandt
Member for Melbourne (Vic)



The major parties also elect leaders and deputy leaders in the Senate. These people form part of the leadership group and act as the focal point for their parties in the upper house.

For example, the current ALP leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, is referred to as the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Eric Abetz is referred to as the Opposition Leader in the Senate.

Senate
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Senator Chris Evans
(Western Australia)
Senator Stephen Conroy
(Victoria)
Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz
(Tasmania)
Senator George Brandis
(Queensland)
National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce
(Queensland)
Senator Fiona Nash
(New South Wales)
Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne
(Tasmania)
-



Footnote: Convention dictates that the official leader of the main parties will be a member of the House of Representatives. In 1968, following the death of its Prime Minister, Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose its upper house leader, Senator John Gorton, as the new prime minister. Gorton immediately resigned his Senate seat and contested the by-election for Holt’s lower house electorate, Higgins. Thus, Australia had a prime minister for several weeks who was not a member of either house. This is allowed for in Section 64 of the Constitution.


Abbott Releases Foreign Investment Discussion Paper

The Coalition has released a discussion paper on foreign investment in agricultural land and agribusiness.

Abbott, Truss & Hockey

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said “the Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment”. However, “there is scope to improve Australia’s foreign investment regime when it comes to investment in agricultural land and agricultural business”.

The paper was released by Abbott, Nationals leader Warren Truss and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in Sydney today.

The paper is titled: “Foreign Investment In Australian Agricultural Land And Agribusiness”. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has been put in charge of managing a “Discussion Paper process”. Submissions to the process are open until October 31, 2012.

Abbott, Truss and Hockey discussed foreign investment at a press conference this morning:

Media release from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the Foreign Investment Discussion Paper.

The Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment.

Foreign investment has been and will continue to be instrumental to the economic development and growth of Australia.

We support a foreign investment regime that strengthens our economy, promotes growth, and fosters confidence that foreign investment is in our national interest. [Read more...]


Lindsay Tanner Announces His Retirement

A history-making day in Australian politics has produced another unexpected turn of events with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner announcing that he will retire from politics at the forthcoming election.

The announcement came at the end of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s first Question Time in the House of Representatives.

Tanner said he had approached former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a couple of weeks ago and indicated he would not contest the election. He said the decision “is driven entirely and absolutely by matters of personal circumstances”.

Tanner was elected as the member for Melbourne at the 1993 election. He has served in six parliaments.

Hansard transcript of Lindsay Tanner’s statement to the House of Representatives.

Mr TANNER (Minister for Finance and Deregulation) (3:15 PM) —On indulgence, I rise to advise the House that I will not be contesting the forthcoming federal election. I just wish to outline some of the reasoning behind my decision. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with the then Prime Minister indicating that it was my intention not contest the coming election. He asked me to delay consideration of this decision, indeed to reconsider. He indicated that he wanted me to stay on as a minister even if I did choose to step down. I concurred with his request and we agreed that we would revisit the matter at the end of the parliamentary sitting period. In fact, we had an appointment scheduled for 9.30 this morning to consider this matter. As you all know, by one of those strange quirks of fate that tend to occur in politics, other matters intervened. So I found myself doing what I expected to do—namely, confirming my intention not to recontest the election—slightly later in the day to a different Prime Minister, the incoming Prime Minister. I am now formally advising the House of my decision. I have indicated to the incoming Prime Minister that I am equally happy to continue serving in my current ministerial position until the election or to step aside without demur should she choose to ask me to do so. [Read more...]


Turnbull Pushes For Delay of Emissions Trading Scheme Legislation

The Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced that the coalition will move to defer passage of the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation until next year.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Nationals leader, Warren Truss, Turnbull argued that the legislation should be delayed until after the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year.

Turnbull also argued that Australia should wait until US legislation is debated and voted on. He claimed that the American legislation will become the “benchmark” for other nations to follow.

The Opposition will oppose the ETS legislation if its deferral moves fail.

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