GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Taxing times as Parliament returns
- The Turnbull Government is locked in negotiations with the Senate crossbench to pass its company tax cuts.
- Scott Morrison has attended the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Argentina.
- The Senate’s 76 seats are full once again, with all new senators officially sworn in.
- The Member for Lyne, Assistant Minister David Gillespie survived a High Court challenge.
- South Australia welcomed a new Liberal Government, while Labor claimed victory in the Melbourne seat of Batman at the weekend’s by-election.
- Victorian Labor is at the centre of a ‘rorts-for-votes’ controversy this week, following release of a Victorian Ombudsman report.
The Government is currently in negotiations with the Senate crossbench to pass its $65 billion company tax cut reform package, which will see the company tax rate reduced from 30 to 25 per cent if passed. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out an exemption for the big four banks, proposed by Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has not commented on whether Labor intends to repeal the tax cuts should the party form government.
Scott Morrison Abroad
Treasurer Scott Morrison has travelled to Buenos Aires this week to attend the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting; meet with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and UK Chancellor Philip Hammond; and meet with his counterparts in Canada, France, Italy and Singapore. Later in the week, Mr Morrison delivered a keynote address at the International FinTech Conference in London.
Full Upper House
Replacing George Brandis, barrister Amanda Stoker has been sworn in this week as a new senator for Queensland. Her addition brings the Senate back to its full capacity of 76 following the resignation of WA senator Scott Ludlam 250 days ago – the longest period since federation without a full Upper House. The numbers may shift again once the outcome of Katy Gallagher’s dual citizenship case is known.
The High Court has unanimously agreed it does not have jurisdiction to rule on the eligibility of Nationals MP David Gillespie to sit in Parliament, in response to action brought against the frontbencher by former Labor candidate Peter Alley in July 2017 concerning section 44 of the Constitution. Notably, the Court did not rule on the substantive issue of eligibility, and its judgment therefore still leaves open the possibility of referral by the Parliament. While Turnbull retains his one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, this appears unlikely.
A Liberal SA
South Australia has a new government following last weekend’s decisive election victory for the Liberal Party. Steven Marshall has been sworn in as Premier, along with the 13 other members of his Cabinet. Read the latest SA Votes newsletter for more information about the 2018 SA Election result, and check out our briefing note to discover more about the new Cabinet.
Labor’s Ged Kearney has claimed victory at the weekend by-election in Batman, maintaining the party’s hold on the Melbourne seat with 54.4 per cent of the vote. Greens candidate Alex Bhathal, who contested the seat unsuccessfully for the sixth time, congratulated Ms Kearney and said that “we’ll have a strong, progressive woman representing us in this seat”. Privately-commissioned ReachTel polling has revealed that voter concerns were focused on issues such as education and health rather than the contentious Adani coalmine, as predicted by the Greens.
Victorian Labor in the Spotlight
Meanwhile, the Victorian Labor Government has come under fire following the release of an Ombudsman report, detailing a breach of parliamentary guidelines on campaign funding in 2014. A parliamentary inquiry into the issue appears likely, with support from both the Opposition and the Greens. Former State Treasurer John Lenders was named as a key figure in the campaign spending arrangements, which resulted in nearly $400,000 of improperly spent taxpayer funds, which has been repaid by the ALP.