IT’S BENNELONG CAMPAIGN
As the week draws to its conclusion and the year of politics nears its end, all eyes have turned to the byelection contest in Bennelong, where the Coalition government is attempting to maintain its absolute majority in the House of Representative by having John Alexander returned as the local member.
Much hinges on the result for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with the government holding off on a cabinet reshuffle ($) until after the outcome is known.
With so much at stake, residents have been overwhelmed by the level of campaigning. According to The Daily Telegraph, unions have flooded the Sydney seat with campaigners ($) and spent thousands on truck-mounted billboards. Residents have been receiving regular, sometimes daily, push-polling and robo-calls, sparking complaints to the local council.
In good news for Turnbull, a Fairfax/ReachTELL poll today finds that Alexander remains ahead of Labor challenger Kristina Keneally on the two-party-preferred measure by 53-47. It also found that around half of all voters in the seat said their decision would be impacted by the ongoing Senator Sam Dastyari and Chinese donations scandal. The Daily Telegraph reveals ($) today that despite calling on Dastyari to “consider his position” after meetings with donor Huang Xiangmo, Labor MP Linda Burny also met with the donor last year.
The scandal, and the Prime Minister’s aggressive pursuit of the issue, is causing diplomatic headaches. The Australian reports ($) that Australia’s ambassador to China, Jan Adams, was summoned last week to reassure the Chinese government over the new anti-foreign interference laws being debated by Parliament.
UNI CUTS BACK
The government will once again attempt to cut funding to universities after a string of failed attempts to legislate savings. The Australian Financial Review reports ($) that Education Minister Simon Birmingham will forge ahead with the savings in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, opting to find savings that do not require legislative approval.
Industry sources told the paper the government could likely find around $2.3 billion in cuts this way, which is less than the $2.8 billion the government tried to cut via legislated changes that were blocked in the senate. Both the Group of Eight universities and peak body Universities Australia have signalled their opposition to the plan.
NBN LOWERS RATES
The price of internet plans sold via the National Broadband Network could soon drop with the network set to lower wholesale prices to providers. The move is designed to ease the cost on consumers who have so far opted for cheaper, slower packages, as providers have bought insufficient bandwidth and struggled to provide promised browsing speeds.
The NBN Co is supposed to eventually return a profit and has conceded ($) the cuts will reduce its revenue in the short-term. The new plans will become available in the second quarter of 2018.
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Sydney: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sits for the last time.
Sydney: NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet delivers the state’s mid-year economic update.
Perth: The third Ashes test begins in Perth. Victory for Australia will see them reclaim the urn.
NSW: Year 12 students receive their end-of-school Higher School Certificate results.