The Albanese government will use the first parliamentary sitting day of the year to introduce legislation to overhaul stage 3 tax cuts, as the opposition gears up to question the prime minister over his “broken promise”.
Shadow cabinet met on Monday evening to determine their position on the government’s “cost of living tax cuts”, hours after treasury officials revealed they had not been tasked specifically by the Treasurer with looking at the already-legislated tax changes when asked to compile a list of new cost-of-living measures.
The Coalition joint party room will meet on Tuesday, ahead of the introduction of the government’s legislation.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has indicated the Coalition won’t stand in the way of lower taxes for low- and middle- income Australians, but questions remain on whether they will seek amendments or wave the legislation through.
Whatever they ultimately decide, the Coalition are set to use the first Question Time of the year to probe when and why the government made the decision to alter the Morrison-era legislation that was due to take effect on July 1; and whether Australians can believe Labor’s promise of “not touching” negative gearing and capital gains tax in light of changing their position on stage 3.
The Greens will also formalise their position on the legislation in their own party room on Tuesday, where they are expected to agree to push for greater cost-of-living relief for renters, pensioners, and low income earners.
Ahead of introducing the tax cuts bill, Treasurer Jim Chalmers called for legislation to be passed, to ensure all 13.6 million taxpayers receive a tax cut – 11.5 million of whom will “receive a bigger tax cut” than they would have under the Morrison cuts originally legislated.
“We have found a better way to deliver tax cuts in a way that’s better for the cost-of-living, better for returning bracket creep, better for women and the workplace, and better for the economy,” Dr Chalmers said.
“It means that 5.8 million women – 90 per cent of women taxpayers – will now receive a bigger tax cut. Nurses, teachers, and truckies are some of the most likely to benefit with more than 95 per cent of those taxpayers getting a bigger tax cut.
“Cutting taxes for Middle Australia is a central part of our economic plan – along with getting wages moving again, bringing inflation under control, and driving fairer prices for Australian consumers.”
The legislation could take weeks to pass the Senate, however, with a chance it won’t have cleared the two houses before the Dunkley by-election on March 2.
Later in the week, the government’s landmark paid parental leave amendment will be back in the chamber, which would expand the scheme to six months by 2026.
Then, on Thursday, James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea will address the joint houses of parliament, becoming the first Pacific Island leader to do so.
Parliament will also consider legislation cracking down on the exploitation of migrant workers, combating foreign bribery, closing loopholes in the workplace relations system, and housing policies.
Meanwhile, news that Australian author Yang Hengjun had been given a suspended death sentence by a Chinese court is also set to be on the agenda this week.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, was hauled before the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Monday afternoon following the news.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong has indicated she won’t be recalling Australia’s ambassador to Beijing just yet, but her Coalition counterpart Simon Birmingham called on the government to “make sure there is the maximum appropriate pressure applied in support of Dr Yang”.
Meanwhile, the RBA will decide on the official interest rate on Tuesday after its first meeting of the year.
The board is expected to keep it on hold at 4.35 per cent following a decline in inflation.