Australian government facing defeat over energy policy and company tax cuts
17 August 2018
There has been renewed political turmoil since the Australian parliament resumed this week. During the long winter break, the Liberal-National Coalition government suffered serious blows in five simultaneous by-elections on July 28, two of which it did not even contest.
Such is the hostility toward the government that in one electorate, just north of Brisbane, the Queensland state capital, its vote fell below 30 percent. Neither of the two other main parliamentary parties, Labor and the Greens, fared much better in any of the seats, pointing to deepening political disaffection after years of falling wages, social spending cuts and soaring living costs.
Already, it is clear from the events of this week that the government’s two signature policies are in tatters. They are multi-billion dollar tax cuts for the largest companies and a so-called National Energy Guarantee (NEG) to resolve a decade-long impasse over energy policy, which has blocked corporate investment and sent electricity prices sky-rocketing.
Increasingly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government seems incapable of legislating either of these policies, both long demanded by the financial elite.
Despite formal denials, the government is preparing to abandon the tax cuts, perhaps after one final token effort to get them through the Senate. The NEG bill, which has yet to be made public, seems doomed also, unless the opposition Labor Party backs it. At least 10 government members are reportedly threatening to cross the floor to vote against it.
The frustrations in the ruling class with the government, which has barely clung to power since winning only a one-seat majority in the 2016 election, are…