Jenny Wong elucidates the current interesting times in Australian Parliament, ahead of a looming budget and a possible double dissolution election.
Some of you might also be wondering what’s happening in Parliament at the moment. With this being an election year, the Budget and the politics it’s not surprising it's not ‘business as usual’.
If this was a typical year, Parliament would sit on 10 May coinciding with Federal Budget. But Parliament and the Federal Budget has been brought forward to 3 May this year. The Prime Minister’s (PM's) speech of 21 March 2016 pretty much sets out the lie of the land. The PM has called upon the Governor General to recall both Houses of Parliament on Monday April 18 to consider and pass the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bills and the Registered Organisations (not tax bills) and the Governor General has made that proclamation. Although there is already grounds for a double dissolution on the Registered Organisation Bill, the PM prefers to have both Bills passed by Parliament rather than calling a double dissolution election (see the PM’s notice to the Governor General). This is the main reason for Parliament planning to sit earlier than usual.
The double dissolution provision comes into play if the Senate and House twice fail to agree on a piece of legislation (a ‘trigger’). When such a trigger (or any number of triggers) exists, the Governor General may dissolve both House and Senate (section 57 of the Constitution) and issue writs for an election in which every seat in the Parliament is contested.
Parliament will be prorogued on Friday 15 April 2016 and existing Bills currently before Parliament will lapse. If time permits, the Government might use the additional sitting days to consider other legislation. Tax Bills that are still in Parliament are Bills including managed investment trust (MIT) rules, tax concessions for early investors; goods and services tax (GST) and intangibles and the Commissioner’s statutory power. These Bills will therefore need to be reintroduced into Parliament and I understand Treasury are currently going through a process of advising Government on the Bills “that are nice to get through before 30 June 2016”. Whether they will, depends on Budget priorities too that will be thrown into the Parliamentary mix.
Rumour on the street is 3 May will be a ‘tax budget’. How radical will the changes be? Who knows. See you on Budget night.