2019 is almost upon us and Scott Morrison must be sweating bullets.
Not only will he have to hit the road running to contest an election, the first few months of the year are littered with land mines which have the potential to explode all around him.
The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission’s final report will be provided to the South Australian Governor by 1 February 2019. That has the potential to embarrass both the NSW government and Barnaby Joyce right before elections.
February 1st is also the deadline for the banking Royal Commission to deliver its final report to the Governor-General. We have already heard enough to know that it will be damning which only underlines the government’s poor judgement in characterising it as a “political stunt” by Labor.
February is also the month when the Federal Court is due to hear the case regarding the media tip-off from Michaelia Cash’s office about the raids on AWU offices, providing she hasn’t succeeded in having the subpoenas set aside as she has said she would.
The case against Kathy Jackson, that ‘lion of the union movement’, may take a little longer. It is due for court mention in January but a tentative trial date of April 29 has been set because “she’s yet to secure funding for her legal representation.”
In the few sitting days available, the government will have to deal with a crossbench determined to facilitate medical evacuations from Manus and Nauru.
And there will still be the question about what to do with all those pesky gay teachers.
Jenny Macklin and Ann Sudmalis will be back from their jaunt to the UN. I doubt Macklin will retire quietly and it remains to be seen if it was enough to shut Sudmalis up about the bullying allegations she made before she was gifted the $100,000 trip to New York to get her off the scene for three months.
Sooner or later they are going to have to release the five-yearly State of the Forests report due in 2018 which will have the fact-checkers working overtime to compare the emissions reductions claimed for the LULUC sector with some actual data – presuming they provide any because they keep saying in the National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory that they haven’t had access to satellite images for the last two years.
Matt Canavan is going on Adani overload trying to convince us all that it is a happening thing, but the challenge to the Indigenous Land Use Agreement will likely be heard in May after the W&J people crowd-sourced the funding to continue their fight. There are also issues remaining about water and threatened species management plans and unapproved bores. It is extremely unlikely that Canavan will be able to point to any progress before the election.
The December quarter national accounts will be released on March 6th, less than a month before the budget is handed down. The government is running on a campaign of good economic management but there are indicators that the updated figures might not be quite as good as they would hope for.
There is a $10 billion war chest of “decisions taken but not yet announced” but spending up big, presumably on tax cuts, will make claims of frugality and a promised but never achieved surplus harder to sell. Not to mention gross debt rapidly approaching $540 billion and net debt at $350 billion.
Yup. It sure will be an interesting few months.