The political year ahead

Welcome to 2016, a federal election year, with polls also due in the ACT and NT.

Around the country old governments are enjoying different fortunes, with SA's Jay Weatherill trying his hand at reform, while Colin Barnett struggles somewhat in the west. Relatively new governments in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania continue to find their way. And in NSW, Mike Baird seems to go from strength to strength.

We can expect a political year dominated by tax reform, although no-one has any real idea about the federal government's intentions. The March COAG meeting is likely to be critical to prospects of a potential federal-state tax deal. Have our leaders got it in them?

The cities agenda will also need to take shape, however the new portfolio needs a new minister first. The government's plan had been to release a discussion paper in February, but this could now be delayed.

Infrastructure Australia will release its 15-year infrastructure plan early in the year. Expect this to pull no punches on what the country needs to do to get a far stronger pipeline of projects to support growth, productivity and liveability.

Also significant is a growing debate about infrastructure funding, with touted solutions ranging from the smart to bald-faced tax grabs.

And the big barbecue stopper – housing affordability – is likely to gain more political traction. We'll be working hard to ensure this provides a platform for further planning reform and a new framework to encourage states and territories to accelerate their actions here.

Hang on to your hats. It should be a big one.