HOW MANY OF TURN­BULL’S POLI­CIES WILL SUR­VIVE NEW PAR­LIA­MENT?

The multi-bil­lion dol­lar pack­age would cur­tail the tax-free sta­tus of su­per­an­nu­a­tion for wealthy re­tirees, limit the af­ter-tax con­tri­bu­tions a per­son could make over a life­time, and raise the tax on con­tri­bu­tions from high-in­come earn­ers.

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The cen­tre­piece of the Gov­ern­ment’s bud­get — a AU$48bil­lion (F$74.68bn) cor­po­rate tax cut — will al­most cer­tainly not pass.

The Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (ABC) has con­tacted ma­jor and mi­nor par­ties, in­clud­ing cru­cial cross­bench se­na­tors, and an­a­lysed their po­si­tion on key Coali­tion poli­cies.

Busi­ness tax cuts

The Gov­ern­ment planned to drop busi­ness tax rates to 27.5 per cent this fi­nan­cial year for busi­nesses with an­nual with turnover be­low $10 mil­lion. This low­ered rate would ap­ply to all com­pa­nies by 2023-24, be­fore drop­ping again to 25 per cent three years later. La­bor sup­ports the 27.5 per cent rate ap­ply­ing to small busi­nesses with turnover be­low AU$2mil­lion (F$3.11m). The Greens do not sup­port any of the Gov­ern­ment’s plan. At best, it ap­pears the Gov­ern­ment could se­cure a 27.5 per cent rate for busi­nesses with turnover up to AU$10m (F$15.56m) a year with sup­port from the Nick Xenophon Team and per­haps other parts of the Se­nate cross­bench.

Su­per­an­nu­a­tion

The Gov­ern­ment’s crack­down on su­per­an­nu­a­tion tax con­ces­sions an­gered many within Lib­eral ranks. The multi-bil­lion dol­lar pack­age would cur­tail the tax-free sta­tus of su­per­an­nu­a­tion for wealthy re­tirees, limit the af­ter­tax con­tri­bu­tions a per­son could make over a life­time, and raise the tax on con­tri­bu­tions from high-in­come earn­ers. La­bor last year pro­posed a num­ber of mea­sures sim­i­lar to those in the 2016 bud­get and the Op­po­si­tion is likely to pass much of the pack­age. It does, how­ever, strongly op­pose the AU$500,000 (F$777,901.43) af­ter-tax con­tri­bu­tion life­time cap, claim­ing the pol­icy is ret­ro­spec­tive. The Greens say they sup­port tack­ling su­per­an­nu­a­tion tax breaks that favour the wealthy. The pack­age is likely to meet re­sis­tance within the Coali­tion par­ty­room, with a num­ber of Lib­eral MPs and se­na­tors call­ing for the is­sue to be re­vis­ited. But Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Arthur Sin­odi­nos said the Gov­ern­ment had a man­date for the changes and the mea­sures should re­main in­tact.

Same-sex mar­riage plebiscite

The Gov­ern­ment wants to hold a na­tional vote on whether to le­galise gay mar­riage. Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has said he ex­pects it to be held this year, and its re­sult will not bind Gov­ern­ment politi­cians. La­bor and the Greens sup­port same-sex mar­riage and want a vote inside Par­lia­ment. How­ever, nei­ther party has ruled out vot­ing to al­low the plebiscite. Nick Xenophon sup­ports gay mar­riage and de­scribes the plebiscite — that could cost close to $180m (F$280.04m) — as “the world’s most ex­pen­sive opin­ion poll”. It re­mains un­clear what the plebiscite ques­tion would be or what the en­abling leg­is­la­tion put to Par­lia­ment would con­tain. If La­bor and the Greens can gather enough num­bers in the Up­per House, do not rule out a pri­vate mem­bers’ or se­na­tors’ bill be­ing moved in the hope a hand­ful of Lower House Coali­tion MPs might vote to le­galise same­sex mar­riage.

In­dus­trial re­la­tions

The Prime Min­is­ter called a dou­ble dis­so­lu­tion elec­tion af­ter the Se­nate twice re­jected a bill to re­vive the Aus­tralian Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Com­mis­sion (ABCC) — a Howard-era, union-bust­ing con­struc­tion watch­dog. The Gov­ern­ment’s reg­is­tered or­gan­i­sa­tions bill — to increase dis­clo­sure and trans­parency obli­ga­tions on union of­fi­cials — was also thwarted twice. La­bor and the Greens op­pose both pieces of leg­is­la­tion. The chance of the ABCC pass­ing is slim. Mr Turn­bull vowed to rein­tro­duce the bills but has not com­mit­ted to hold­ing a joint sit­ting of Par­lia­ment, which a dou­ble dis­so­lu­tion elec­tion al­lows. The Gov­ern­ment would need 114 votes (of 226 MPs and Se­na­tors) at a joint sit­ting to be suc­cess­ful. As­sum­ing the Gov­ern­ment has 104 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans (an op­ti­mistic es­ti­mate), and it agreed to amend­ments Nick Xenophon put for­ward in the pre­vi­ous Par­lia­ment, the Gov­ern­ment would still need six votes to pass the ABCC. One Na­tion and Der­ryn Hinch re­main un­de­cided on whether the com­mis­sion should be rein­tro­duced.

Health

Be­fore the elec­tion, the Gov­ern­ment vowed to ex­tend the freeze on the re­bates paid to doc­tors and other health pro­fes­sion­als to 2020, re­verse just AU$2.9bn (F$4.51bn) of the 2014 bud­get’s hos­pi­tal cuts and re­move bulk-billing in­cen­tives for scans and pathol­ogy. La­bor and the Greens op­pose the mea­sures and say the AU$2.9bn (F$4.51bn) boost for hos­pi­tals is not enough. Mr Xenophon also op­poses the re­bate freeze. The Coali­tion has sent mixed mes­sages about health since the elec­tion. Mr Turn­bull said there was “fer­tile ground” for La­bor’s Medi­care scare cam­paign and added: “We have to do more to reaf­firm the faith of the Aus­tralian peo­ple in our com­mit­ment to health and to Medi­care.” But Trea­surer Scott Morrison said: “It can’t be a choice be­tween a bud­get ... and your health re­spon­si­bil­i­ties... we can’t have the health sys­tem be­ing a money pit where the ar­gu­ment is just about how much money you throw down the hole.”

The Gov­ern­ment wants to hold a na­tional vote on whether to le­galise gay mar­riage. Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has said he ex­pects it to be held this year, and its re­sult will not bind Gov­ern­ment politi­cians. La­bor and the Greens sup­port same­sex mar­riage and want a vote inside Par­lia­ment. How­ever, nei­ther party has ruled out vot­ing to al­low the plebiscite. Nick Xenophon sup­ports gay mar­riage and de­scribes the plebiscite — that could cost close to $180m (F$280.04m) — as “the world’s most ex­pen­sive opin­ion poll”.

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