Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared budget repair the “massive moral challenge” of the new Parliament, challenging Labor, the Greens and the crossbench to tackle the nation’s ballooning debt “head-on” while echoing Kevin Rudd’s stark warning about climate change a decade ago.
Nanjing Night Net

And Fairfax Media has obtained a leaked copy of a “backbenchers brief” that sets out the details of the so-called omnibus savings bill, which largely contains measures that Labor agreed to, or indicated it could agree to, during the election campaign.

The leaked document reveals the omnibus bill is designed to save $6.1 billion over four years and includes 24 measures – up from the 21 that had initially been foreshadowed.

As MPs returned to Parliament on Monday after a four-month break, the Coalition partyroom meeting signed off on 26 different pieces of legislation, including the omnibus bill, that will be presented to the Parliament.

But amid talk of a “battle plan” to ramp up pressure on the opposition to pass the government’s legislative agenda, fully 23 of the 26 bills were first proposed in the previous parliament, including the pair of industrial relations bills that triggered the double dissolution election and media ownership reforms. Some are as much as three years old.

Mr Turnbull told the Coalition partyroom that budget repair was now about “more than economics. It is more than fiscal matters”.

“This is a fundamental moral challenge. How long are we prepared as a nation, as a generation, to load more and more debt on to the shoulders of our children and grandchildren? How long are we prepared to live beyond our means, to live effectively on the credit card of the generations that come after us?”

“We have a task and this Parliament has a task. Every member and every Senator, regardless of their party, regardless of whether they are part of the Government or the opposition or the crossbenches, has a responsibility to face this reality.”

Mr Rudd once claimed that tackling climate change was the “great moral challenge” of the age but in a decision that subsequently proved to be pivotal in the unmaking of his prime ministership, he subsequently dumped the then Labor government’s promise to introduce a carbon pollution reduction scheme – and lost his job months later.

The leaked backbench brief states the omnibus bill “is part of a concerted strategy to demonstrate immediate and tangible progress towards fiscal repair”.

“Strengthening the nation’s finances is key to the government’s economic plan. Working to balance the budget will restore the the buffers that protect Australia against the economic shocks and uncertainties that might otherwise threaten our future success.

“This bill contains 24 savings measures announced in our last term that the opposition assumes passage of in its election costings.”

Labor has held off on committing to backing the omnibus bill, insisting it will only commit one way or another once the government releases the actual legislation.

The actual bill could be released as soon as Tuesday.

The three new measures foreshadowed for the omnibus bill appear to be abolishing the National Health Performance Authority, ceasing social security payments for people in psychiatric confinement who have been charged with an offence and creating a single appeal path under the military rehabilitation and compensation act. None of these measures are new.

The federal government and opposition have traded blows for the last week over budget repair, starting with a speech by Mr Turnbull in which he called on Labor to back the omnibus bill and backed in by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormman.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attempted to turn the tables on the government in a speech at the National Press Club in which the Labor leader proposed $8 billion in savings over four years, and $80 billion over a decade, that largely consisted of ALP election policies.

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