Christmas Albanians rush to adopt new laws

The prime minister has a long list of laws he wants passed by the end of the year, including several fairly massive measures.

22 11 22 senate
(Photo: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has done a lot for himself and his government in the last two weeks of the year.

The Senate agreed to sit for two extra days — this Friday and next — leaving eight days to pass all proposed new legislation. These include fairly large commitments, such as the creation of an anti-corruption watchdog and reform of industrial bargaining rules.

Likely to take up some of the Senate’s time is a private member’s bill to restore territorial rights, allowing the ACT and Northern Territory to begin implementing voluntary assisted dying laws.

What the government should do

There are several bills that the government considers mandatory by the end of the year:

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  • Industrial relations reforms that would change the rules around employee bargaining to increase wages. The government has yet to convince key senate members to support the reforms
  • The legislation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission will establish an integrity monitoring body. The government promised during the election campaign to do this by the end of the year, and it looks like it will succeed. The attorney general on Tuesday submitted amendments to the bill recommended by the inquiry
  • Discuss territorial rights. Albanese has promised to allow a conscience vote on the issue and will keep that promise regardless of whether the Senate passes the amendment.

Other laws that the government wants to pass

There are other bills that Albanians would like to see passed before the Christmas break. Government spokesmen outlined the following priorities:

  • Expansion of the “disaster preparedness” fund to deal with natural disaster preparedness. The bill passed the Senate with amendments that the House would have to deal with
  • Legislation of tax deductions for electric car users. The Greens, independent senator David Pocock and Labor struck a deal on Tuesday which means the bill will pass.
  • Changes Privacy Actincluding increasing fines for companies that fail to protect customer data
  • The anti-discrimination measures, known as Respect at Work, aim to impose a positive duty on employers to prohibit gender discrimination.

Bills already passed

  • Two separate trade agreements with India and the UK, signed by the previous government, need Parliament’s approval
  • A change to the law so that if pensioners work and earn too much to qualify for benefits, their entitlement payments will be suspended rather than cancelled.
  • Changes that would make child care cheaper are part of a $4.5 billion election commitment included in the October budget.