• Hannah Phillips

The Week in Parliament


The debate about the competing income tax plans culminated in an almost farcical vote on Wednesday night.


At 7.00 pm the Treasurer rose for the second reading speech on the government’s personal income tax plan.

He answered Labor’s criticisms of the lack of costings for the plan by revealing that the cost of the policy over ten years would be $143.95 billion, a slight increase on the estimate of $140 billion aired when the budget was brought down on May 8.

He also indicated the first and second stages of the tax plan would cost $102.35 billion over a decade.

The two statements suggest the third and most controversial stage of the policy would cost about $42 billion over the same timeframe, the decade to 2028-29, even though this part of the package only starts in 2024.

During debate on the bill Labor tried to move amendments so that only the first tranche of the bill would be passed and to increase the tax cuts to $938 a year from the government’s $530.

At the final vote, Labor voted in favour of the full bill which now proceeds to the Senate where it will be subject to extended scrutiny and negotiation over each stage of the reform.

Asked whether the final vote meant Labor MPs were supporting the full package, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen told ‘Fairfax Media’ the vote allowed Labor to keep pursuing changes in the upper house.

“Labor supported passage of the tax cuts legislation through the House so we can continue to make the case in the Senate for splitting the package and supporting Labor’s bigger, better and fairer tax cuts,” Mr Bowen said.

The Labor stance means it avoids accusations from the government that it has blocked tax cuts while retaining the scope to seek amendments again in the Senate.

At question time on Thursday opposition members continually asked why individual government members had voted against the bigger tax cuts proposed by Labor.

Ministers responded by pointing out that Labor had voted for the government’s tax plan.

On Thursday the Speaker announced that the likely date for the super Saturday of by-elections is July 28.

The opposition strongly objected to this because it means that it will be down four members in the Reps until August 13 when new members can be sworn in.

Andrew Hastie made a speech in the Federation Chamber on Tuesday night naming Australian businessman Dr Chau Chak Wing as a conspirator in a bribery case.

The speech comes three weeks before a defamation trial, involving Dr Wing and ‘Fairfax Media’ and ‘The ABC’, which will canvass and dispute the matters raised in the address.

No one in the government’s leadership group seems to have been aware that Mr Hastie’s speech was in the offing until it had been delivered and the Prime Minister has acknowledged that he’s called for a report from the security agencies on whether the speech has compromised our relations with American security agencies.

John McDonnell

From the Gallery • On Wednesday, a fortnight after the budget, the National Press Club held a forum to get women’s perspective on it. The panellists were Dr Danielle Woods from the Grattan Institute, Dr Janine Dixon from the Centre for Policy Studies and Lyn Pezullo from Deloittes.

•The Christian School annual dinner was held in the Mural Hall of Parliament House on Monday evening. The dinner was addressed by former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson among others.

• CEO David Blackhall and the AADA team hosted the AADA Cocktail Party in the Mural Hall in Parliament on Tuesday night addressed by Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation Craig Laundy. The event showcased the industries value to the Australian economy with touchscreens separating the value of the industry by Federal Electorates and States.

• African Heads of Mission hosted a reception to celebrate Africa Day that was addressed by President of the Senate Scott Ryan, Mark Coulton MP the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Labor Shadow Foreign Affairs Minster Senator Penny Wong at the Albert Hall. On the same night The Charge d Affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr Eljan Habibzade hosted celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of the National Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the Hyatt Hotel.

• Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack attended the Airlines for Australia & New Zealand Parliamentary event in Canberra on Thursday.

• FINSIA, the Financial Services Institute of Australasia launched a new set of professional banking qualifications for Australia in Parliament House on Thursday. The new standards. The launch was hosted by Chris Whitehead FINSIA CEO and Managing Director for what he said was restoring trust and building professionalism in Financial Services. FINSIA represents over 8,000 individuals working across Financial Services.

• The 2018 AMA National Conference will meet today, tomorrow and Sunday at QT in Canberra. The conference will feature a line0up of influential political and health leaders, speakers and panellists, a new day-long policy discussion format, prestigious awards, and the election of a new AMA President. Health Minister, Greg Hunt MP, Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King and Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale are all confirmed speakers.

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