Convincing cross bench senators to back corporate tax cuts will be the priority for the Turnbull government when the Senate sits next week.
With House of Representatives members not returning until March 26, only senators will head to Canberra to deal with a raft of government bills, including reducing the corporate tax rate for all-sized businesses from 30 per cent to 25 per cent by 2025.
On Friday, the Business Council sent a video message to every senator appealing for them to back the tax cut.
‘We have a plan on the table, right here, right now, that will grow the economy and increase investment. It will help make our country more successful and give businesses a chance to compete. We just need the Senate to act,’ council president Jennifer Westacott said.
She said the $65 billion cost of the tax relief would result in a $180 billion economic gain over a decade, and be especially beneficial for rural and regional business.
While Labor and the Greens remain adamant the money could be spent better, on health and education as well as tax cuts for low and middle-income earners, the government hopes to woo One Nation and other crossbenchers who back the initial small business tax cuts.
Also on the agenda will be laws to crack down on social security cheats, but won’t include a controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients.
Monday’s sitting will kick off with the swearing-in of former Nick Xenophon Team member Tim Storer, who is expected to sit as an independent.
Mr Storer, an Adelaide-based business consultant, took over Sky Kakoschke-Moore’s South Australian seat after the High Court found her to be disqualified due to her dual citizenship.
She argued Mr Storer should not be allowed to take the seat as he was no longer a member of the NXT party, but the court disagreed and declared him elected.
On Thursday another new senator is expected to be sworn in.
The Queensland Liberal National Party’s Amanda Stoker will replace former attorney-general George Brandis, who has been appointed high commissioner to the UK.
New Tasmanian senator Steve Martin, another independent, will give his first speech on Wednesday.
The Senate will receive reports on proposed new laws to set up a redress scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse, as well as corporate whistleblower protections, university funding and the impact of climate change on national security.
The Greens will seek support for a new inquiry into mental health services in rural and remote Australia.