With the Federal Election later this year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull still has a lot to do to convince voters that his government deserves to be re-elected.
Here’s my pick of some key issues that should be at the top of Malcolm Turnbull’s 2016 bucket-list.
The Budget: Malcolm Turnbull better be sitting down with Treasurer Scott Morrison to prepare a voter acceptable and economically viable Budget in May otherwise the Coalition will be risking another caning – this time at the ballot box. The recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook contained new cuts to health, welfare and aged care with the deficit of $23.8 billion predicted to worsen over the next three years. Scott Morrison will have to negotiate stock market and commodity prices instability in the next six months.
Taxation: The Goods and Services Tax is hot on the agenda again with the Labor Opposition claiming that the Coalition Government is preparing to lift the rate to 15%. This has been denied by the Government although it says that everything will be on the table to be considered. Many opinion polls have consistently shown that Australians are not supportive of changes to the Goods and Services Tax meaning that this will definitely be a contentious issue required careful political movement by the Government.
National Security: With Australia still on alert from increased terrorist incidents and the changing power relations in the Asia-Pacific region, the Turnbull government needs to work out where it stands on its external and internal defence policies. The government needs to be seen to be taking measures to protect the Australian population as no Prime Minister wants to be seen as weak in the eyes of voters. The government’s Defence White Paper and anti-terrorism legislation to be released later this year will definitely be interesting reads.
Health, Education & Welfare: After several years of attempts to find savings in the Budget by slashing funding for health, education, and welfare, the government might need to try a little harder to win back many voters disillusioned with the so-called austerity response to the ‘deficit emergency’. Labor has promised to fight the Government on the issue of cuts to services particularly to changes in Medicare. The government might also want to try a new approach to welfare and university funding as it’s also been a source of protests against the Coalition in the past.
Coalition & Government Ministers: With Parliament resuming soon, Malcolm Turnbull needs to select two MPs to replace Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough after both resigned for inappropriate conduct. It is likely that the Liberal’s Coalition partners, the Nationals will be eyeing out another ministerial position. The National Party leadership will also be an interesting development to watch as Warren Truss may soon be replaced by Barnaby Joyce or a not yet known challenger who will become deputy Prime Minister of Australia.
Media Laws & the NBN: Changes to media ownership legislation is set to be presented in the first half of the year. The “reach rule” limiting television stations to a maximum of 75% national reach and the “two of three rule” preventing a single media entity gaining control of a daily newspaper, a radio licence, and a TV licence are all set for review and debate. The Nationals believe that more should be done to assist local content producers and regional Australian media consumers. The National Broadband Network will also be used by both the Coalition and Labor in political point scoring opportunities as construction continues behind schedule and over-budget.
This article was first published in The Typewriter