Climate change, cost of living and a “confronting” Budget update are set to dominate the first week of Australia’s new Parliament.
Tackling the aged care, labour and domestic violence crises will also be high on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s legislative agenda when the 47th Parliament opens on Tuesday.
A total of 151 MPs and 72 senators will be sworn in and a new House Speaker and Senate President will need to be elected to take over from Liberal MPs Andrew Wallace and Slade Brockman, respectively.
In the upper house, West Australian Labor senator Sue Lines is expected to be elected president. It would be the first time in 26 years a female president has been installed in the Senate.
Queensland Labor MP Milton Dick will have the support of his colleagues to rise to Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Governor-General David Hurley will outline the Labor Government’s priorities for the next three years in an address to parliament.
For the first time in nine years, Labor MPs will sit on the right hand side of the lower house chamber and take questions from the crossbench and Opposition.
The Opposition is expected to hammer the Government about the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia and the protective biosecurity measures announced so far. Labor has been criticised for not acting quickly enough and there have even been calls from some quarters for flights from Indonesia to be banned.
There will be 35 members taking a seat in the House of Representatives for the first time and their inaugural speeches are set to feature well into the October parliamentary sitting schedule.
Parliamentary rules say lower house members cannot contribute to debates before they have given their first speech. The crossbench has urged the Government to prioritise the first speeches of independent MPs so they can speak on other debates.
In the Senate — where 12 newbies will give their first speeches — the same rule does not apply and senators simply need to declare “this is not my first speech” before making a remark in the chamber.
The Government’s climate change Bill will be the big ticket item in the first weeks. Labor intends to enshrine a 43 per cent emissions-reduction target by 2030 into a law that will also require the climate minister to report annually to Parliament on Australia’s progress.
A proposal to introduce 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave will also be unveiled in the first week. Proposed aged-care reforms will include putting nurses back into nursing homes, stopping high administration and management fees, and improving integrity and accountability for residential homes.
In the jobs and skills sector, the Government will propose to establish a new statutory body to provide independent advice on workforce needs and help tackle Australia’s labour crisis.
Meanwhile, Treasurer Jim Chalmers will provide update on Australia’s budget position and economic outlook on Thursday and has already warned it will be “confronting”.
His update will come a day after the release of new inflation data for the June quarter, which could be as high as six per cent on an annual basis.
Dr Chalmers has flagged inflation is likely to get worse before it gets better toward the start of next year.
Australians will get a sense of the size of the economic challenge ahead but high inflation rates won’t last forever, he has said.