As the Parliament goes back in session today, the Prime Minister has indicated where his government’s focus will be.
A glaring omission from the bills is one on super, as there is a raging debate from all sides on it. This is also the case with the same-sex marriage plebiscite, with many politicians suggesting that the plebiscite need not happen, and that parliament needs to take up the vote themselves.
Malcolm Turnbull will challenge the new parliament today to fast-track 25 priority reforms in a policy onslaught that prepares an “acid test” for Labor while racing to overcome crossbench fears that could wreck his agenda in the Senate.
The Prime Minister will ask his Coalition colleagues to approve the battle-plan this afternoon in order to introduce every bill into parliament this week, forcing decisions on reforms including budget savings, company tax cuts, workplace relations and media ownership. Ministers will ask coalition backbenchers to urgently consider the 25 pieces of legislation at a party room meeting today, The Australian reports.
The rush is so all the bills can be put to parliament on Wednesday and Thursday, in the hope they can be passed before key Senate crossbenchers change their minds and withdraw support.
Among Mr Turnbull’s priorities for the week will be introducing an “omnibus bill” including $6.5 billion in budget savings, which the government remains hopeful of receiving Labor support because they resemble the opposition’s election promises.
The prime minister, whose government holds a bare minimum 76 lower house seats and 30 in the Senate, will also push ahead with legislating a decade-long plan to reduce tax on small, medium and large companies and bring some relief to middle-income earners.
Struggling to quell internal dissent over superannuation tax hikes, Mr Turnbull will seek to sharpen the focus on economic action in a partyroom meeting at 9.30 this morning that will appoint committees to consider the 25 bills with ministers over several hours. The plan will delay a final decision on super until the partyroom meets again on September 12.
While Scott Morrison is expected to hear backbench concerns over the super changes during the meetings, he and others are still considering whether to abandon the “retrospectivity” of the new $500,000 cap on post-tax contributions or raise the threshold to $750,000 instead.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the bills were issues the government had talked about before and during the election.
“As a government we’re giving the parliament plenty of notice of the forward agenda,” he told ABC radio.
“We keep doing everything we can to persuade the Australian people and others in the Senate what it is we’re doing and why.”
But Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong said the suite of bills included things such as agricultural levies and a statute amendment bill.
“They may well be worthy but I’m not sure you’d sort of trumpet it as the centre of your agenda,” she told ABC radio.
“I do understand that Malcolm and his team feel the need to demonstrate they’ve got an agenda, particularly when they’re all at sea on superannuation”.
The Daily Telegraph reports the key priority bills to include:
Laws to allow authorities to continue to lock-up high-risk convicted terrorists after their sentences expire if a judge decides they still pose a threat to the community.
Changes to the criminal code to clarify war crime offences of murder and attacking civilians in a non-international armed conflict do not apply to protect members of organised armed group.
Repeal of the reach rule which prevents TV licence holders from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population as well as the two-out-of-three rule which limits ownership of radio, TV and newspapers.
Changes to the childcare payment system which creates a single means-tested subsidy and adds a top up subsidy for disadvantaged families.
A bid to re-establish the building and construction watchdog. The bill was a trigger for the recent double dissolution election.
A new scheme called Youth Jobs PaTH aimed at giving internships to young job seekers.
A bill that softens the Abbott government’s controversial crackdown on mothers “double-dipping” on paid parental leave.
An increase to the 32.5 per cent personal income tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000 from July 1 2016.
An omnibus bill of budget savings across 20-odd departments aimed at budget repair. It has $6.5 billion in savings which Labor agreed to during the election campaign. It includes removing the clean energy supplement, funding cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, changing repayment thresholds on university student loans and freezing the Medicare levy and private health insurance rebate income levels.
Plans to extend non-liability health care for certain mental health conditions to cover all current, former and future Australian Defence Force members.