This item should be read as a follow-up to Crikey’s pleas for the P word to take over the political debates. This is the new Government’s tabled items for its first week in government and gives an interesting view of what may happen in a delicately balanced parliament.
The bulk of what happens will continue to pass unopposed.
The PM has listed 42 pieces of legislation for tabling in the first week. They are a very mixed bag but at a very rough glance, I suspect that at least 31 of these are mainly admin stuff and will go through without opposition. This ties in with the many statements that about 75% or more goes through on a bipartisan basis. The ALP announcement provides some indication of what may actually split the votes of the major parties and make the independents important.
Out of 11 interesting items, at least one will go through and many more are likely to; there may be as few as five or six that engage our fearless leaders in any serious debate. That means that on this example, less than 15% of items are likely to be controversial and may be debated.
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The 11 items below are those worth noting.
Most are just ones that, where there has been no indication of views, they sit in the dubious list. Some have been opposed in the past and some are areas that may be not be supported. One shouldn’t go through but I suspect will and others may be opposed just to create the appearance of difference and fear.
The first two are interesting for their politics. Number one is a measure that should be lost because it increases child care costs for full-time workers for little savings. Number two will go through because there is a spooky unity of discrimination between Government and Opposition, so only Greens and maybe independents will oppose.
1. Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Budget Measures) Bill. Reduce the annual child care rebate cap to $7500 and pause indexation for four years from July 1, 2010. Promised cut to child care tax rebate, which the Coalition promised not to introduce during the election campaign. Greens will oppose and hopefully this will be lost.
2. Native Title Amendment Bill (No. 1). Provide for a new “future acts” process to allow for the construction of housing and associated infrastructure on indigenous-held land that is, or may be, subject to native title.
Unfortunately, likely to pass, as it overrules native title rights but the Coalition will support the further injustice. The rest are a mix of areas where there is no clear indication of whether the bill would be supported. No public statements of support or opposition to the following items:
3. Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill. Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) (Consequential Provisions) Bill enhances the focus on human rights in the Parliament scrutiny and inquiry processes, including through the establishment of a new Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, which implements some aspects of the Brennan human rights review. Very mild but the Coalition is not generally supportive.
4. S-x and Age Discrimination Amendment Bill. Establish a standalone Age Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission and amend the S-x Discrimination Act 1984 to include additional protections. This is another part of the Human Rights Act and the separate review on the S-x Discrimination Act.
5. Carer Recognition Bill. Establish a legislative framework to increase recognition and awareness of informal carers and acknowledge the valuable contribution they make to society. Probably will be supported but is as yet unknown; hard to oppose.
6. Civil Dispute Resolution Bill. Encourage the resolution of civil disputes outside of the courts and seek to improve access to justice by focusing parties and their lawyers on the early resolution of disputes. Unknown.
7. Australian Civilian Corps Bill. Establish the Australian Civilian Corps, and create a legal framework for the employment and management of Australian Civilian Corps employees. Again, what is it? Unknown!
8. Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill. Amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to improve access to amenities, services, representation and advocacy for Australian university students.
Previously opposed and likely to continue — the dreaded student union bill.
9. Australian National Preventive Health Agency Bill. Establish the Australian National Preventive Health Agency to provide evidence-based policy advice to governments on preventive health, and to implement associated programs as tasked by Health Ministers Part of the health changes so may be opposed just to be difficult.
10. National Health and Hospitals Network Bill. Establish the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care and provide a framework for its establishment, including an expanded role in setting national clinical standards and strengthened clinical governance. May be opposed just to scare the horses.
11. National Security Legislation Amendment Bill. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Bill Implement the Government’s response to reviews of Australian national security and counter-terrorism legislation. Could be used to scare horses. Otherwise, who knows?