Happy last sitting day for 2020!
After almost a year of live blogging, it felt like 2020 – and the parliament – would continue into infinity. But it is 10 December and the last sitting day of the year, and we made it.
Last night the Senate got fiery, after a last minute, undisclosed deal between Centre Alliance and the government saw the cashless welfare card extended for another two years in trial sites, as well as expanded to the Northern Territory.
Rex Patrick (now an independent), the swing vote up until 9.30pm or so, voted no. Stirling Griff, from Centre Alliance, then had some amendments, which the social services minister, Anne Ruston, introduced, amending her own bill, and voted yes to extending the trial, rather than making it permanent.
There were absolute scenes, as Luke Henriques-Gomes and Katharine Murphy report:
No one is saying what the deal was, and don’t be surprised if there are some legal questions that pop up – Labor and the Greens were heading down that path yesterday, with no indication they won’t pursue it, given they received no answers.
Another fight is brewing over in the House over the IR laws. Despite the government claiming it is expanding on exemptions which exist in the “better off overall test” Fair Work Act, it’s latest IR bill actually replaces those exemptions with something else, which have a lower bar. So while it is possible to exempt the BOOT now under the Fair Work Act, it’s in very limited circumstances. Those circumstances won’t be so limited under the government’s new legislation, which is what has caused all the hoohah. The government denies it but it is in the legislation. Expect that battle, along with super, to kick off and continue into the new year.
We will cover all of the last day’s shenanigans and more, as the federal parliament bids farewell to the sitting year. Feel free to drop me a line with what your strongest memory of this parliamentary year – the cancellations, the virtual attendance, the brief moment of bipartisanship, national cabinet – you tell me. It has been A YEAR. And it has been an honour to spend most of it with you, here in the live coverage.
But first, to the day. Katharine Murphy, Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp are as they have been all year, diligently at your service, as is the wonderful Mike Bowers and everyone else in the Guardian brains trust.
Grab yourself a coffee and we’ll get into it.