Australia

Tax cuts, environment and pomp and ceremony on the agenda for first Parliament sitting

The new Governor-General David Hurley was sworn in on Monday. Source: AAP

The pomp and ceremony of the opening of the 46th Parliament will be cut short to debate tax cuts.

Income tax cuts will dominate the first parliamentary sitting since the federal election with the government hoping to convince key crossbench senators to back all three stages of its plan.

The major parties will dispense with convention to allow debate on the Coalition’s $58 billion tax income package to begin Tuesday evening in a week usually reserved for fuss and formalities.

While Labor will facilitate the debate, it is sticking by its refusal to back the plan unless stage two of tax relief is brought forward to this year; and stage three is shelved.

"Every worker deserves a tax cut and that the economy needs that tax cut right now," Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told reporters on Monday.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese arrives to address the media in the Mural Hall at Australian Parliament House, in Canberra, Monday, 1 July 2019. The 46th Parliament is due to sit this week after the 2019 Federal Election. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING
Labor leader Anthony Albanese wants the government to bring forward stage two of the tax cuts.
AAP

It is a significant change in the Opposition’s position since it went to the election supporting only stage one of the Coalition’s package which would deliver low and middle income earners up to $1080 when they lodge their tax returns.

But Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told reporters Labor hasn’t gone far enough and should back the package in its entirety.

"We will not split the income tax relief package. It’s a plan that we put to the Australian people, it's a plan that was endorsed by the Australian people and it's a plan that's in our national interest."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann at a press conference in Melbourne.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has ruled out splitting the bill.
AAP

Under stage two, the 19 per cent tax bracket would increase from $41,000 to $45,000 in 2022.

While stage three would lower the tax rate from 32.5 per cent to 30 per cent for people earning between $45,000 and $200,000 in 2024.

The government may be able to get the package through the Senate without Labor’s support if it can secure the vote of four out of six crossbenchers.

Former Liberal Cory Bernardi is expected to vote with the government and it appears close to securing the support of minor party Centre Alliance’s two senators.

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick is seeking assurances on energy prices first, but says he doesn’t believe there will be any "road blocks".

"I think we’re basically in a position where we’ll end up supporting it," he told ABC radio.

One Nation and the Greens don’t support the plan, but returning independent senator Jacqui Lambie is yet to declare her hand.

Expanded environmental agenda

Before debate can get underway, the newly-sworn in Governor-General David Hurley will officially open the 46th Parliament on Tuesday.

As part of the ceremonial events, Governor-General Hurley will deliver a speech outlining the government’s agenda for the term.

Governor-General David Hurley with Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the swearing in.
Governor-General David Hurley with Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the swearing in.
AAP

The speech is expected to flag an expansion of the Coalition's environmental agenda, as well as focus on a broader plan to revitalise the economy.

The party has been criticised for dragging its feet on climate change action and a spate of its blue-ribbon Liberal seats came under threat from climate-conscious independents in the May election.

Warringah MP Zali Steggall has vowed to continue to keep the pressure on the government on climate change after defeating former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Morrison's broader agenda to get the sluggish economy moving again spans skills, deregulation, industrial relations, economic digitisation, liberalisation of financial services, and increased competition.

But he ruled out the return of the red tape reduction days that Tony Abbott imposed on parliament twice a year as prime minister.

No time for medevac, foreign fighters

Wednesday's parliamentary proceedings will be devoted to remembering former prime minister Bob Hawke, who died two days before the election.

A late-night sitting on Thursday loom as a possibility, which could drag into the early hours of Friday, with government senators told to hold off on making travel plans.

The government will most likely run out of time to bring on debate to repeal the Medevac laws which facilitates the medical transfer of critically ill refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.

Peter Dutton
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is making the case to repeal the Medevac legislation.
AAP

Last week, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claimed doctors were preparing to lodge up to 250 applications for medical transfers of patients on Manus Island and Nauru, but advocates say the figure is closer to 50.

The government will again be relying on the support of the crossbench, if Labor maintains its support for the legislation it helped pass in February.

A proposal to ban foreign fighters from returning to Australia for two years is also unlikely to be considered until late July at the earliest.

The government has been urged to redraft the legislation by critics who labelled it a "dogs breakfast" during a parliamentary hearing in March.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch