This is just a quick thread for a couple of important pieces of legislation that is before parliament at the moment:
- Alcopops. This is the legislation to make the changes introduced last year into law, and it looks like being blocked in the senate. From what I can see, the tax change did exactly as intended – it reduced the consumption of alcopops and the research shows that this did not translate into a corresponding increase in hard liquor.
- Electoral Reform. This is being blocked in the senate by the coalition, under the guise that it does not go far enough.
Are these potential triggers for a double dissolution?
On the subject of alcopops, Tony of South Yarra, also makes this observation:
The government’s ill-conceived ‘alcopops’ tax is about to be voted down in the senate. Introduced ostensibly as the main weapon in Labor’s ‘war’ on binge drinking among teenage girls, it has failed to win the support of any of the non-government senators:
The Government faces the prospect of paying back almost $300 million to the alcohol industry and forgoing $1.6 billion in tax revenue after the Greens, independent Nick Xenophon and Family First’s Steve Fielding refused to endorse the tax.
The government is steeling itself for more trouble in the senate, with its emissions trading scheme and industrial relations reforms both looking unlikely to find the necessary upper-house support:
Greens senators Bob Brown, Rachel Siewert and independent Nick Xenophon made it clear they were not to be trifled with on the alcopops bill or other key government legislation.
“They (Labor) need to see that we are quite strong, quite determined and not going to be treated in this way by the (health) minister or the government,” Senator Brown said.
“We are serious about this and it’s up to the government to act like a government that understands the functioning of the Senate instead of expecting that the Senate is simply going to give it what it wants every time,” he said.
As Don Chipp would no doubt remind us if he were alive today, the role of the senate, and the balance-of-power cross-bench senators in particular, is to ‘keep the bastards honest’. Long may it be so.