Thursday, 16 February 2017

By Stefanee Lovett


The final sitting day of Parliament for the fortnight saw Members and Senators celebrate International Women’s Day. Attending a breakfast to mark the event, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women and Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, addressed the media and praised the recent strengthening of industrial laws that passed the Senate last night. The Opposition Leader, whom with the Prime Minister also addressed the breakfast, told the seated audience “there is no such thing as trickle down feminism.”

Lots of action in Question Time today. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Women, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, was another high profile casualty ejected from Question Time joining four Opposition colleagues in being dismissed for an early flight home by the Speaker, the Hon Tony Smith MP.

1.The Opposition honed their attack on the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, during Question Time with eight of their ten questions focusing on Phillip Coorey’s report in today’s Australian Financial Review that “differences are emerging within the federal government over plans to curb the capital gains tax concessions for property investors.”

2. Juxtaposed with Opposition questions on capital gains tax, the Government used six of its nine questions to continue to highlight the South Australian energy debate and paint the grid failures as Labor ideology.

3. Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, who was answering a Dorothy Dixer from her Western Australian colleague and Member for Swan, Mr Steve Irons MP, was interrupted by a gaggle of protestors screaming “land rights not mining rights” from the Public Gallery. It was a calm and composed Minister who continued on with her answer despite the cacophony of a minority.

4.There was a touching tribute to the Clerk Assistant (Committees), Ms Robyn McClelland, who after four decades in the public service, including 18 years serving the House of Representatives, is retiring. The Prime Minister was joined by the Opposition Leader, Manager of Government Business, Manager of Opposition Business, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Member for Grayndler, in heaping praise on another unsung hero of democracy in Australia. The Prime Minister noted “Australia is stronger for it” in reference to her service.

1.Australian Financial Review’s Phillip Coorey today reported that there are divisions within the top brass of the Government over potential reductions to Capital Gains Taxation concessions for property investors. Coorey indicated the Finance Minister, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, had moved swiftly to “kill off any change”.

2. A second female suspect has been arrested in Kuala Lumpur in connection with the brazen and public assassination Kim Jong-nam, the elder half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Malaysian police have confirmed the 25-year-old woman had been traveling on an Indonesian passport under the name Siti Aishah.

3.The Government has announced a $54 million investment through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to support a large-scale solar development with the potential for pumped hydro storage. The development will take place at Genex Power’s Kidston Renewable Energy Hub, 270km north-west of Townsville.

4.Law firm Slater & Gordon (SGH) continues to be punished by investors on the ASX. The company also warned of the potential for further writedowns of its UK operations after the unit accounted for much of a dramatic $879.5 million impairment charge in fiscal 2016.

Today’s legislation focus included:

1.Treasury Laws Amendment (Working Holiday Maker Employer Register) Bill 2017

2. Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017

3.Disability Services Amendment (Linking Upper Age Limits For Disability Employment Services To Pension Age) Bill 2017

4.Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017

5.Education and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (NO. 1) 2017