Parliament returns for budget sessions

Federal parliament returns on Tuesday for the budget and a big legislative agenda spanning company tax cuts, media reform and a long-term plan for schools.


Treasurer Scott Morrison will deliver his second budget, armed with a new slogan: fairness, opportunity and security.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is hoping this year’s budget forms the basis of a political reset for the coalition, having scraped into office by one seat at a double-dissolution election called immediately after the 2016 budget.

The government will dump the remaining “zombie measures” from the controversial 2014 budget, while delivering an anticipated record spend on infrastructure, schools, national security and health.

Labor will deliver its budget reply on Thursday.

It will be the first parliamentary sitting since March and comes as the coalition lags Labor in opinion polls, but Mr Turnbull maintains a solid preferred prime minister lead over Labor leader Bill Shorten.

The nation’s newest senator, former Family First candidate Lucy Gichuhi, will be sworn in on Tuesday, while One Nation’s Peter Georgiou – who filled disqualified senator Rod Culleton’s West Australian seat – will deliver his first speech on Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate’s numbers will be restored to its full complement of 76 seats, meaning the government will need 10 extra votes on top of its 29 to pass legislation.

And there’s a hefty program of bills to manage through the upper house.

Mr Morrison will bring in the second tranche of his company tax cuts, delivering a break for businesses with annual turnovers of more than $50 million.

However it is likely to face a tougher time than the cuts for small business, which received the backing of the Nick Xenophon Team and One Nation.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham wants parliament’s approval for laws to back up his Gonski 2.0 schools funding plan, which Labor is expected to oppose and hammer in question time.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield will make a concerted push for media ownership reform, including the abolition of the 75 per cent audience reach rule and the “two out of three” rule.

Laws to protect vulnerable workers, which came out of the 7-Eleven scandal, and a bill to bring in the government’s Youth Jobs Path program for the young unemployed are also on the agenda.

Inquiry reports are due to be tabled in relation to the dairy industry, oil and gas production in the Great Australian Bight and the plan to impose GST on low value imported goods.