What’s Next in Canberra as ScoMo takes the floor (again)
The Federal Parliament resumes on 2 July 2019 on the back of Scott Morrison’s ‘come from behind’ victory. This will be the first time the Parliament has sat since the budget was handed down in the first week of April.
What can we expect to be prioritised when our political leaders converge again in Canberra?
Tax Cuts Up First
For the Morrison Government the first cab off the rank is the implementation of personal income tax cuts, which was their signature policy commitment they took to the election and can rightly claim a mandate to introduce.
Already though the Government has hit some headwinds, with key crossbench parties Centre Alliance and One Nation flagging concerns with the package.
The package itself is made up of three stages, with stage 3 not coming into effect until 1 July 2024.
Stage 3 is also the most expensive and One Nation is looking for a coal fired power station in Queensland as a priority over stage 3 tax cuts, and Centre Alliance is questioning the robustness of the budget to support stage 3 tax cuts some 5 years down the track.
In the absence of Labor supporting the package in full, once again the Senate crossbench is showing it is a force to be reckoned with.
A criticism of the re-elected Morrison Government is that it has no third term agenda other than personal income tax cuts.
The fact is the Government’s third term agenda is basically the budget it bought down in April.
While forgotten by many, the budget was the Governments election manifesto of which personal income tax cuts and returning the budget to surplus were core promises.
At the forefront of other promises were major commitments in the health portfolio lead by a focus on mental health services and a $1.1 billion spend over five years to support frontline primary care services through GP practices, such as $448m for a new chronic disease care funding model.
It is clear as well that the Government will pick up where it left off from prior to the election on other policy areas as well.
For example, the Government had a number of Bills relating to superannuation that fell by the wayside pre-election that it will now be looking to revive. Measures including legislation to ensure industry super boards have at least one third independent directors, having opt-in insurance for under 25-year old’s and enshrining in legislation the objectives of superannuation are but a few examples.
The Major Focus
The key issue for the Morrison Government for the next three years is the economy.
The Government campaigned successfully on its economic credentials, through its commitment to prudent spending and returning the budget to a $7.1b surplus in 2019-20.
Delivering on the budget surplus and future surpluses will be at the core of the Governments policy and political objectives.
Protecting the surplus will be sacrosanct to the Government, hence any slow-down in the economy or unforeseen spending that put the surpluses at risk, would present a major political and policy challenge to the Government.
May the ScoMo versus Albo battle begin!