Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given no indication the government will establish a national corruption watchdog as he did battle with Bill Shorten for the first time this year.
Mr Turnbull went on the attack over the economy, which dominated Monday’s Question Time, accusing Labor of a “
But asked by Mr Shorten about the National Integrity Commission proposal, the PM refused to say if the government would support a federal ICAC-style body, as proposed by Labor last week.
The response was in contrast to Mr Turnbull’s comments last week, in which he said the government had “certainly not ruled out” a National Integrity Commission.
— Matt Thistlethwaite (@MThistlethwaite) February 5, 2018
In Question Time, Mr Shorten had asked:
But in the midst of Labor’s announcement last week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce gave a series of interviews arguing that such a body was not needed, saying “we found out Sam Dastyari without ICAC”.
Parliamentarians returned to Canberra on Monday with the major parties expected to duke it out over the economy, particularly wage growth, tax cuts and health insurance costs, throughout the political year.
Labor began Question Time by arguing the government had failed ordinary workers by offering a tax cut to all large companies while lifting income taxes through an increase in the Medicare levy.
Mr Turnbull replied by accusing the Opposition Leader of “declaring war on business”, and by heralding the 403,000 new jobs created last year as “t
The shadow of an upcoming byelection in the inner north seat of Batman also hung over Parliament, with Labor pressuring the government to say whether it would investigate claims of misconduct by the Indian mining giant Adani.
The Opposition also pressed Labor over health insurance costs after announcing on Sunday it would cap premiums by two per cent for two years if elected.
Mr Turnbull noted the private health insurance industry, saying a cap on premium rises would “
Labor has said private insurance premiums have risen 5.5 per cent over the past decade.
Before Question Time, both leaders paid tribute to former Hawke government minister Barry Cohen, who died late last year, and former Fairfax Media political editor Michael Gordon, who died at the weekend.