ACCC TO EXAMINE THE ABC OF POWER PRICES

From Monday, 27 March 2017

By Stefanee Lovett

Summary

The final sitting week before the budget commenced yesterday with the Government announcing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will examine power price rises in response to fluctuations in cost and service, especially in South Australia. In reply to the move, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, said it’s “the last bastion of desperation, saying you are going to bring in the ACCC”.

The commencement of Question Time was delayed yesterday as the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, the Member for Page and the Deputy Prime Minister all spoke on indulgence on the passing of former Nationals Member for Cowper and then Member for Page, the Hon Ian L. Robinson. The Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader also took the opportunity to address the nation, and especially residents of Far North Queensland, on the imminent threat posed by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. The Prime Minister pre-emptively thanked volunteers and Defence Force personnel for risking their own safety as the Opposition Leader said, “Queenslanders are a practical people and they’re all too familiar with facing natural disasters”.

1.If you watch Question Time for long enough you get an innate sense that ‘you’ve heard that one before’. So it came to pass for Minister for Defence Industry and Leader of the House, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, who extolled the virtues of Bill Hunter’s irascible character from Muriel’s Wedding, Bill Heslop, regarding coincidences with his long-term mistress, Ms Deidre Chambers. Unfortunately for the Minister, one may argue that the former Treasurer, the Hon Peter Costello’s use of the same gag at the expense of then Opposition Leader, the Hon Kevin Rudd and notorious former Western Australian Premier, Mr Brian Burke, was far superior.

2.The Member for Sydney, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, today continued the baiting of the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, when she swooped on newspaper reports from last week suggesting the Government’s budget could be facing a taxation shortfall in the wake of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates for some sectors. It was an intelligent question that linked a key opposition tactic with a sticky outcome for the Government.

3.In perhaps a sign of ‘imitation being the sincerest form of flattery’, the Government, led by the Prime Minister, attacked the Shadow Treasurer and Member for McMahon, the Hon Chris Bowen MP, during Question Time. The Prime Minister thundered from the dispatch box, “I’ll get to you sunshine, just hang on” in reference to the Shadow Minister‘s historical views on cutting income tax levels for high-income earners. The Prime Minister, referencing the book that the Shadow Treasurer wrote on the policy topic, said, amongst fits of laughter from the Government benches, “volumes of it can be found in any good book stores where remaindering occurs”.


1.The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, confirmed the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission will investigate the “very real problem” of rising electricity prices. An interim report will be handed down in six months and the full report published by 30 June 2018.

2.Newspaper reports indicate the seat of Mayo as a potential target for the looming abolishment of one federal seat in South Australia due to population shifts. NXT Leader, Senator Nick Xenophon, was quick to issue a rebuke when he said “if the Liberal-Labor duopoly in South Australia reckons they’re going to get away with abolishing the seat of Mayo without having an almighty fight on their hands, they’ve got another thing coming”.

3.
Pauline Hanson’s new One Nation recruit Peter Georgiou was sworn into the Senate yesterday replacing his brother-in-law, Rod Culleton, who was twice disqualified as a Senator after being declared a bankrupt by the Federal Court, and after the High Court found he was never eligible to have been elected due to a larceny conviction. The updated composition of the Senate is:

Coalition — 29 | Labor — 26 | Greens — 9 | Crossbench — 11*

*The High Court is still to determine how to replace Bob Day AO

4.The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows the Opposition lead the Government 55:45 on a two-party preferred vote. An issue for both parties is that the poll also showed the personal ratings of both leaders has contracted.

Today’s legislation focus included:

1.Banking Amendment (Establishing an Effective Code of Conduct) Bill 2017

2.People of Australia’s Commission of Inquiry (Banking and Financial Services) Bill 2017

3.Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay) Bill 2017

4.Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2016 Measures №.1) Bill 2017

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