Morrison government accused of twiddling thumbs on key bills until election time | Australian politics

The Morrison government has been accused of delaying laws until “five minutes to midnight” because it tries to finish the parliamentary yr delivering on key election guarantees.

With parliament scheduled to renew sittings on Monday for the ultimate fortnight earlier than the summer time break, the government is ready to launch laws for a non secular discrimination act and a invoice to ascertain a commonwealth integrity fee.

Both had been key commitments earlier than the 2019 election, however stalled throughout the pandemic, and the government has been criticised after releasing preliminary draft laws for every measure.

Labor’s local weather change spokesperson Chris Bowen accused the government of “fiddling” for the previous three years, and solely reviving the laws now an election was in sight.

“If this was important to Scott Morrison, he could have done it at any time over the last three years,” Bowen informed Sky News on Sunday.

“Let’s not accept any of these excuses about he had other things to do. He could have done an Icac, he could have done religious freedom. He doesn’t believe in either.

“He’s been fiddling. He’s done nothing. And now as the election approaches, all of a sudden he finds a religious freedom bill in the top drawer, which has been gathering dust for three years.”

The legal professional normal, Michaelia Cash, has been consulting on the revised non secular discrimination invoice, with the Coalition social gathering room anticipated to think about the laws on Tuesday.

Moderate MPs are reserving their proper to cross the ground over the invoice, involved a few assertion of perception clause that overrides different state anti-discrimination legal guidelines and a optimistic discrimination proper for faith-based establishments.

MPs are but to see the laws, however the employment minister Stuart Robert stated he didn’t anticipate everybody to be pleased with the scaled-back invoice.

“No one gets everything they all want in public policy, I think that’s a given on all sides of debate,” Robert informed Sky News.

Bowen stated that if the government wished “constructive engagement” with Labor on the invoice – whose help could also be needed for it to cross into regulation – then it wanted to resolve divisions on its personal facet first.

“They promised it before the last election, and here we are at five minutes to midnight, fiddling,” Bowen stated.

“So before it even gets to what the Labor party does, they need to get their own house in order.”

‘Weak watchdog worse than none’

Negotiations are additionally persevering with on the brand new federal integrity fee, which has additionally divided government MPs, with many wanting the invoice to permit for public hearings and for its remit to be broadened.

Ahead of the anticipated launch of the invoice, the Centre for Public Integrity put ahead an “integrity test” for any revised laws, outlining 5 rules it could want to incorporate to be efficient.

These embrace a broad jurisdiction, robust royal fee powers, public hearings and studies, personal movement powers and no proof of prison offence required to be able to start investigations.

“A weak watchdog is worse than none at all. It allows corruption to continue behind the veil of secrecy,” stated Anthony Whealy, chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

On Friday, the impartial MP Helen Haines accused the government of successfully abandoning its pre-election dedication, saying there was not sufficient time to legislate the anti-corruption physique earlier than the subsequent election.

But Robert stated he anticipated the election to be held in May and the government was persevering with to barter on the integrity fee mannequin.

“The election is still a good six months way, so there is plenty of time for us to move forward on what we took to the Australian people three years ago,” Robert stated.

Packed legislative agenda

Robert additionally stated the Indigenous affairs minister, Ken Wyatt, was pushing forward with plans for an Indigenous voice to parliament, however the government wished this to be a bipartisan dedication.

“We want something that all Australians can embrace and Ken Wyatt is doing an extraordinary job, working with 51 Indigenous Australian peak bodies to try and bring something to the table that we can all agree with,” Robert stated.

Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt is pushing ahead with Indigenous voice to parliament legislation.
Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt is pushing forward with Indigenous voice to parliament laws, Stuart Robert says. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Wyatt is anticipated to take the ultimate report from the co-design panel to cupboard as early as this week, with its launch “imminent”, however there are blended views in regards to the deserves of pushing forward with laws with out fulfilling a pledge for constitutional recognition.

As the government seeks to “clear the barnacles” earlier than the top of the yr, it is usually decided to attempt to cross controversial voter ID legal guidelines which were criticised as prone to suppress the vote, significantly amongst Indigenous Australians.

The packed legislative agenda is unlikely to be easy crusing for the government, with at the least two of its personal senators vowing to withhold help from the Coalition except Morrison meets a spread of calls for, principally round vaccine mandates.

One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has additionally promised to trigger “so much mayhem” over the problem, and has advised she may vote towards the voter ID legal guidelines, regardless of beforehand claiming credit score for the Coalition’s coverage.

Ahead of parliament’s return, Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers goaded the government right into a combat on the financial system, pointing to rising petrol costs and flatlining wages.

“If he (Morrison) wants to have an election on the fact that petrol prices have gone up on average over the last year something like $900 for an average family with an average car, at the same time as real wages have gone backwards $700 over the last year, then we say bring it on,” Chalmers informed ABC’s Insiders program.

“I think that should be central to an election about the economy, about living standards, and about the prime minister’s failures on economic management.”

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