The governments sprint to an election campaign leave legislation in limbo

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ANALYSIS

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbulls unprecedented one-two hit to the body politic of Australia has left the Government with an acute timing problem.

For the first time, a Budget will be delivered and then an election called within the same week.

That means the bulk of the Budget will be left hanging in legislative limbo for at least the two months of the campaign leading to the July 2 polling day.

Only the element, known as Supply the bit of the Budget which has to be passed so the government has money to pay for its daily running costs and wages will come before Parliament before the place shuts down for the election.

Effectively the government will be telling voters: If you want this Budget to become reality, you have to re-elect us.

The parallel message from Labor is: Only we can block this Budget. In short, everything is merely an election promise, according to shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.

The timing, and what Treasurer Scott Morrison today called the unusual situation is further underlined by the fact the government wants to begin its income tax cuts the day after the July 2 election, according to Industry Minister Christopher Pyne.

It cannot guarantee that because an election is in the way.

Mr Morrison today insisted there was no problem and the usual routine would operate. Which would be unlikely because by his own observation these are not routine times.

The Budget will be legislated in the normal way, Mr Morrison said. When further questioned by reporters he declined to elaborate, saying curtly, Ive just said the Budget will be legislated in the normal way.

By normal way Mr Morrison meant if we win the election.

On the tax cuts he said: Those details will be spelled out in the Budget tomorrow night and the legislative program will follow the usual course.

Soon after, at the same press conference, the Treasurer acknowledged Budget matters would not follow the usual course. It most certainly will not be legislative business as usual.

There will be some special appropriation Bills that will come into the House of Representatives today which deal with the unusual situation that we have going to an election on July 2, Mr Morrison said.

That will ensure a continuity of Supply over the course of the election period. But the Budget will be legislated in the usual way.

Meanwhile the government already is facing Budget criticism from its own side.

West Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, who lost preselection for the seat of Tangney, made clear he would not be spending his final week in Parliament tamely.

He attacked reports wealthy superannuation savers could lose some tax concessions.

I wouldnt like to see that, he told reporters.

I think that we need to ensure that people actually save for their superannuation. Weve got to be very careful about the consequences of decisions.

Its all very easy at first glance to say, Well, this is an easy one to do. But there are potential ramifications and I dont think theyve been thought through.