Canberra Report: Flurry of activity around sheep trade

Parliament is in session again this week following another extraordinary four days last week.

The session began with a flurry of activity around the live sheep trade and ended in the shock announcement on the timing of the five by-elections.

In between debate and Question Time were dominated by the "battle of the tax packages" as each side argued they had the best plan.

If passed the government's plan will cost the Budget $143 billion over the next 10 years.

It seeks to introduce three tranches of change over a decade.

The first stage involves the embrace of a new tax offset for low to middle income earners.

Labor supports this initiative which deliver $200 a year for low-income earners and up to $530 extra a year for people on middle incomes.

Indeed, we are promising to make the offset larger to provide a bigger tax break for these people.

But the government has rolled tranches one, two and three into one Bill.

We believe the latter two stages are unfair.

It delivers up to $3000 per year to high income earners and would make the tax scales less progressive by completely abolishing the 37 per cent rate.

The proposed changes to tax rates for individuals come on top of the government's proposed tax cuts for big business including the banks.

If passed, it will cost $80 billion over the next ten years.

Labor opposes that plan too and the government remains unable to secure the passage on the Bill through the Senate.

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The announcement that the by-elections timing was a shock to all and caused a big fuss in the Parliament.

The writs for by-elections following a resignation of death usually follow much more quickly.

For example, in Bennelong it took two days and in New England they were issued the same day.

As a result, the electorates in question will be without representation for long time for 79 days.

Labor understandably saw a conspiracy and predictably the Prime Minister said "nothing to see here"! Apparently it's an unfortunate coincidence that the by-elections will be held on the same day Labor was to hold its triennial National Conference.

This piece was published in the Hunter Valley News on 30 May 2018. 


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