We’re just a day away from the end of another political week in Canberra and it has been a very predictable one as so many have been for as long as can be remembered. It’s also been a fairly tense week with the political tension building as the carbon price nears commencement and both sides dig in for what has been and will be the biggest political battlefield regardless of each sides respective reasons for fighting it. The week has even seen breakouts again of visible vitriol above and beyond the normal cut and thrust of politics and that is a shame.
It’s certain that the carbon tax will continue to be the main game until it is introduced on July the 1st and will continue to be at the top of the political agenda and discourse right up until the 2013 election in one form or another.
The Coalition as they have this week will continue to focus on reports from different organisations which point to differing cost burdens which happen to be above and beyond the Treasury modelling of the carbon price. Their questions will likely again cite reports from these different groups which include peak bodies and lobby groups as well as councils.
As it has since the announcement last Friday, the planned marine reserves announced by Environment Minister Tony Burke is also likely to draw at least a little of the focus of the Opposition, with the member for Dawson in Queensland having asked questions this week on the matter, citing a long list of groups unhappy with the moves.
Immigration matters around Cocos Island after recent arrivals as well as the case of ‘Captain Emad’ have crept into the parliamentary debate again over the first three days of this parliamentary sitting week and could again in some small part during Questions Without Notice.
For the government too it is almost all about the carbon tax, but for them of course it’s all about the compensation payments to low and middle income earners which are to make up for the expected price rise impacts around the carbon tax and the government are fighting a losing battle just trying to get that message out despite the specific focus during Question Time recently.
The ALP Government have also been focusing this week on the Schoolkids Bonus handout which removes the need to keep receipts for tax time and instead provides eligible families with a lump sum payment meant to help with the costs of education. This program has just commenced rollout so likely will result in some questions during the hour and a bit of questions.
The economy in a broad sense, both domestic and comparatively against other nation worldwide has also been a broad theme of Question Time for a while now and that broad theme will continue in an overarching narrative.
As it’s the end of the parliamentary week our politicians will either be too tired to cause much of a fuss or wanting to make waves at the end of a parliamentary week by being the loudest they possibly can, my money’s on the latter and that would be pretty smart money.
Day two of the second week of the parliamentary year is upon us and is not likely to disappoint with more of the same narrative from both sides likely to dominate during the parliamentary sitting day. There may well be an added ingredient slipped into Coalition questions which will cause them great fits of laughter and smiles spattered throughout Question Time.
The Coalition is likely to continue to pursue the Government over the Craig Thomson affair and the long-running Fair Work Australia investigation causing much annoyance and disbelief. The Tony Abbott led Opposition will also likely pursue the Government over the carbon tax, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and the upcoming legislation to means test the Private Health Insurance Rebate.
Likely to provide added energy and vigour into the Coalition questions to the Gillard Government in Question Time is the Four Corners program last night which aired some claims which will be particularly uncomfortable for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the ALP caucus already under pressure from many quarters. Just how these factors will be slipped into Opposition questions will be interesting to watch and certain to provide to the theatrical nature of Question Time.
The Government will certainly continue to try and plot its narrative in economic management, despite recent polling showing that this message is not cutting through to voters like the Government would have hoped. Already in progress and foreshadowed job losses will make that narrative even harder to prosecute even if the dollar is realised as a major factor.
Question Time yesterday was quite volatile compared with any of the days last week, not just because of the cross-chamber barbs and yelling and raucous laughter but because of the removal of more Coalition members under Standing Order 94a than many would have expected given last week. The length of respective leashes will certainly be one to watch.
Given the complex and intriguing mix of events, policies and politics likely to pervade the questions during the session today, it is entirely possible for it to be the most anxious, loud, giggly and angry Question Time of calendar year 2012. You know the drill, 2pm AEDT, and if I can get into the parliamentary spirit of plagiarism, “be there or be square”.