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Sharkie lashes parliament's meagre workload


South Australian Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie has savaged the light workload of the federal parliament ahead of the next election.

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The Coalition government has scheduled just seven sitting days next year, ahead of the April 2 budget, with parliament to be dissolved soon after in the lead-up to a May election.

Sharkie groaned audibly when asked about the meagre sitting calendar.

“This is why the Australian community doesn’t like politicians. It’s that kind of symbolism that we are sending,” she told ABC radio today.

Labor has lampooned the Coalition for orchestrating a “go slow” campaign now it has been plunged further into minority government.

The opposition has argued if ordinary employees worked for so few days, they would be sacked on the spot.

“The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has run out of agenda, run out of policies, and is focused on itself and its own dysfunction,” Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen told reporters in Canberra.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne dismissed the criticism as “a complete storm in a teacup”.

“The budget has been brought forward a month and that changes the first quarter or so of the year,” he said.

“Labor is doing what it usually does, focusing on inside the bubble issues. The public are not in the least bit interested in really how many weeks the parliament sits before the budget.

“This is not an important issue to the mums and dads and individuals going about their daily lives today – they care about balancing the budget, they care about jobs and growth.”

Federal parliament is in the midst of its final sitting fortnight of the year.

Politicians will return to Canberra on February 12 but only sit for a couple of weeks before an election is called.

With an early budget announced for April 2 and the federal election due by mid-May, the House of Representatives could only sit for about two weeks before a possible change of government.

There will be even fewer sitting days for the Senate, with estimates hearings slated for the second sitting week of the year, from February 18.

The calendar is blank for March, giving the government time to prepare for the early budget.

The government narrowly won a vote – 72 to 71 – against Labor’s attempt to add an extra six sitting dates in March.


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