Welcome to the first sitting day of 2021, where we will be talking about all the issues which plagued 2020!
This being Australian politics, we will also be talking about unresolved issues from 2010, because nothing ever moves quickly in this country (unless its needles in strawberries – that we can respond to in 24 hours).
The leaders attended the traditional parliament-eve Last Post ceremony at the war memorial over night, and this morning, are at St Christopher’s for the ecumenical service.
Once they step back out onto the church steps, it is once again, business as usual.
Christian Porter, the government leader of business in the house, as well as the attorney-general, and the other WA MPs have been granted exemptions from quarantine to attend the parliament sitting.
That doesn’t mean things will run smoothly though. After more than a year of having debates shut down, Labor has upped its responses. The opposition was responding by calling repeatedly for quorums (upsetting government backbenchers who are the ones who have to leave meetings to go make up the numbers, as well as interrupting their speech time) but now, as Daniel Hurst reports, Labor is taking it to the streets.
Mostly though, the government is going to be asked to address its own policy decisions to end (at this stage) jobkeeper and what is left of the covid supplement for jobseeker, in March.
The government has done its market research and “comeback” remains the term it believes will best sell its message, so you’ll hear that over and over and over again.
But the world hasn’t recovered from the pandemic, and Australia is at the mercy of those global economic headwinds, so it is not going to be all smooth sailing for the economy. Australia itself is still closed to the world, and that brings its own issues. Not to mention the thousands of Australians who are still trying to make their way home.
Then you have the climate debate, which this country’s parliament has been struggling with for the past decade. Scott Morrison keeps banging on about it being a binary choice between technology and taxes – but no one is talking about taxing our way to lower emissions, and technology isn’t a zero-cost solution.
Then the Coalition party room is sitting there like a tinder box just waiting to explode – the Nationals because they get antsy about being thought of as the junior partner, and the ideologues because well, that’s self-explanatory.
All in all, there is a lot to deal with, with not a lot of room to move, and not a lot of policies there to dissect. We truly remain in the worst timeline.
You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day, with Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp in Canberra and the rest of the Guardian brains trust keeping you informed across the nation.
I’ve already had three coffees, so you know it is going to be a good day.