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This Week in Politics

The coming political week is likely to be dominated by sparring between the major parties over housing affordability, the energy crisis and penalty rates.

Less significant issues are likely to be the failure of the IT systems for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the omnibus savings bill with the connected issue of childcare.

WA Election

Labor will be cock a hoop over the win in the WA election and will try to claim as much national relevance as it can.

Conversely the size of the swing against the Barnett government will have caused some anxiety among Coalition backbenchers.

The Treasurer

Of more concern to Coalition supporters is the fact that people close to the Prime Minister appear to have been backgrounding against the Treasurer.

Two messages have been pressed: firstly that Malcolm Turnbull will take the lead in promoting the economic message to emerge from the budget and, secondly, that Treasurer Scott Morrison has been both freelancing with his messages and failing to achieve cut through with voters.

These messages have been mingled with leaks that there will be reshuffle after the budget which implies that Morrison may be moved on however, in the current circumstances, this seems unlikely.

The Budget

To have the Prime Minister take the lead role in selling the budget would be a tactical mistake.

The budget is bound to be attacked by vested interests regardless of how many goodies it contains and Malcolm Turnbull needs to stay out of the trenches so he can effect compromises if these are needed later on.

His job is to lay the groundwork for the budget by making a major economic statement that charts a vision for the way ahead so that the budget measures are seen in context.

Labor and Penalty Rates

Labor will continue to press the issue of penalty rates but this appears to be fading in the face of the threat from the energy crisis.

The threat from a loss of a proportion of Sunday penalty rates effects about one in forty workers.

Electricity Prices

The threat from an increase in electricity prices is ubiquitous and added to this is the prospect that we are going to run out of gas so there will have to be choice between gas for households or gas for industry.

There are only two years to sort the gas problem out and this is clearly an issue of national significance.

At the moment the only response from both the major parties is posturing and it will be interesting to see whether the week reveals whether one or other of them can get a handle on a viable solution.

Malcolm Turnbull has held a teleconference with Californian billionaire Elon Musk which has given a fillip to the battery storage clique who sniff a government handout.

Meanwhile Northern Development Minister, Matt Canavan has been beating the drum for coal and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill may launch his much vaunted energy initiative for South Australia.

As far as gas is concerned the Prime Minister has asked the major gas producers to come up with a solution to the problem but so far the only answer on the table is gas reservation, which introduces the issue of sovereign risk.

Omnibus Savings Bill

The Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, and the Minister for Finance, Matthias Cormann, will continue to negotiate with cross-benchers on the omnibus savings bill with the hope of getting something through the Senate when parliament resumes.

Nick Xenophon has said that he’s prepared to make some concessions in order to ensure passage of the childcare funding package but whether this is true remains to be seen.

If no savings are possible then the childcare package may lapse.

This will put an end to any prospect for increases in pay for childcare workers and will leave parents at the mercy of childcare providers.

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