Hon Larry Anthony AO, Chairman
It's one thing to win an election, it's another to govern. The 47th Parliament resumed this week with Anthony Albanese steering the ship, literally at the dispatch box.
After the pomp and ceremony, the organs of the Westminster process got down to business with the opening of Question Time and Parliament itself.
This was the first opportunity for the new Government to introduce its pre-election legislative agenda.
Legislation to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, along with reforms to aged care and, symbolically, the abolition of the cashless debit card were the first order of business. Running parallel to the legislative agenda was the Government's commitment to Indigenous voices in Parliament which prompted an unscripted Prime Minister to speak passionately and from the heart.
More urgently, with a dark cloud hanging over the economy, Treasurer Jim Chalmers warned of surging inflation, climbing interest rates, stalling global growth and rising unemployment. This is where the rubber hits the road. With inflation heading to 7 per cent, surging cost of living expenses and climbing debt levels, wrestling the economic tiger is an immediate priority.
Anthony Albanese and his Cabinet must also stare down a slowing global economy and heightened security risks both in Europe and Asia-Pacific.
To be fair, the Government has got off to a good start.
The Prime Minister’s swift engagement with global leaders from the Quad to NATO and, importantly, our neighbours in the Pacific and Indonesia was prudent. You only get one chance to reset relations with nation states and their respective leaders and this was achieved in the weeks following the election. Hats off to Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles for their re-engagement with senior officials in the Chinese administration and the United States.
As Bill Clinton once famously said, “It's the economy stupid’’. With the nation still recovering from the COVID pandemic and ominous signs of a slowing economy producing less revenue and bigger Budget deficits, the next two weeks of Parliament will set the tone on how the Albanese Government will execute their domestic agenda.
Navigating the competing agendas of a Greens-dominated Senate crossbench, the unions and business will be no easy task.
For Peter Dutton and the Coalition, perhaps it’s a good time to be in opposition.