By Connor Pound
Australia at the front of queue for UK free trade agreement
Australia became the first country to enter into talks with the United Kingdom over a possible free trade agreement following the country’s unexpected decision to leave the European Union.
Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his UK counterpart Theresa May acknowledged that negotiations can only begin after the UK has officially parted from the EU, but PM Turnbull was clear that he wanted the process to begin “as soon as possible”.
It comes as a cultural boon for Prime Minister Theresea May’s fledgling government, with the leader saying that “It is very encouraging that one of our closest international partners is already seeking to establish just such a deal.”
Reformed Coalition ministry sworn-in
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled his new ministry, expanding his previous to create the largest ever whilst simultaneously following through on his election promise to only make minor changes.
All cabinet ministers will remain within the cabinet but the expansion of the ministry as a whole is being touted as a victory for regional Australia, with National MP’s receiving more representation in the government.
However Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek was quick to criticize the government’s new-found size, saying that the Prime Minister “has had to appoint all his friends and all of his enemies to the frontbench to try to keep peace”.
Coalition MP threaten to cross floor on superannuation vote
Queensland Coalition MP George Christensen threatened to vote against any government attempt to pass a proposed superannuation changes that will put a $500,000 cap on non-concessional contributions.
The MP said that the changes will “penalise success” and “hit those people who have worked hard all of their lives; those who have scrimped and saved and done the right thing.”
It’s unclear whether the government will be able to pass the changes through parliament without the Queensland MP as both the Labor Party and crossbenchers are yet to announce their position.
Australia to expand it’s role in Iraq
PM Malcolm Turnbull and US Vice President Joe Biden have struck an agreement that will see Australia extend its current training efforts in Iraq beyond to the country’s police forces.
Australia is one of the largest contributors to the international coalition which is currently aiding Iraq, with just short of 800 personnel helping train, advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces.
The agreement comes in the wake of America’s April commitment to provide over 200 new troops, which will boost the current number of US soldiers in Iraq to 4,087, and calls for even more resources by top American generals.
Barnaby Joyce rejects calls to ban Muslims
Deputy Prime Minister moved to defend Muslims after Pauline Hanson called for a blanket-ban on them entering the country and Coalition MP George Christensen suggested that countries with high levels of extremism should be barred from immigration.
Offering quite a broad defence, Joyce said “I’m not into banning people on the premise of their belief. How they see their god is completely and utterly their personal reason” and that “every group has their ratbags”.
The Deputy Prime Minister also rejected Senator Hanson’s call to put security camera’s in mosques, implying that the idea could also then be extended to churches.