Tax, welfare on parliament agenda

Posted on 12/17/2018

Malcolm Turnbull is set on passing company tax cuts when parliament resumes next week (File).Malcolm Turnbull has his sights set on passing company tax cuts to boost jobs and welfare reforms to balance the budget when federal parliament resumes for the year next week.

The prime minister and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will start Monday on their knees at the traditional church service to open the parliamentary year in Canberra.

The reflective tone will continue later in the morning with a memorial service for former Labor government minister Barry Cohen.

Treasurer Scott Morrison is expected to bring to parliament next week the second tranche of corporate tax cuts, which will set the path towards a 25 per cent rate for all-sized firms.

In the upper house, the Liberals’ Jim Molan will become the latest senator to be sworn in, replacing the NSW Nationals’ Fiona Nash who was disqualified due to her dual citizenship.

One Nation senator Fraser Anning is set to make a short statement indicating his resignation from Pauline Hanson’s party and intention to sit as an independent, representing rural and regional Queensland.

Senator Anning has written to the Senate President Scott Ryan saying he feels “unable to comply with the conditions that the (One Nation) party has attempted to impose on me”.

Senator Hanson has also written to Senator Ryan recommending Senator Anning be referred to the High Court over his alleged “bankrupt” status.

But the major parties won’t be supporting the referral and Senator Anning – who had a bankruptcy petition against him withdrawn last year – denies having any eligibility problems.

With NSW Labor senator Sam Dastyari having resigned from parliament on January 25, the Senate will withdraw a motion to refer him to the privileges committee.

Labor has chosen former NSW premier Kristina Keneally to replace him, but the timing of her swearing-in will depend on when the NSW parliament’s two houses can formally endorse her.

The government is edging closer to a win on its welfare reform bill in the Senate with the backing of One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team.

Drug testing of welfare recipients will be dumped from the bill, which seeks to toughen compliance measures and streamline payments.

Also on the government’s priority list is the passing of laws to set up the Regional Investment Corporation, which could be derailed due to arguments over senator pairs following the resignation of independent Jacqui Lambie last year.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne has threatened to refer Labor MP Susan Lamb to the High Court, and force a by-election in her Brisbane seat of Longman, over her dual citizenship issues if the opposition does not act first.

But Labor – which has lost Batman MP David Feeney over the citizenship fiasco – won’t make the referral unless coalition MPs with doubts over their heads are included in a “prisoner swap”, which the government initially voted down in the final days of parliament last year.

NXT member Rebekha Sharkie won’t be referring herself to the court over her citizenship issues unless the “job lot” is agreed.

Speaker Tony Smith is considering possible dates for the Batman by-election, which could be held as early as Saturday, March 10, if Mr Smith makes his decision on Monday.

Former attorney-general George Brandis will deliver his valedictory on Wednesday, before he heads off to London to become ‘s UK high commissioner.