This week began with the election of a new Speaker and condolence motions for Western Australian MP, Don Randall, who sadly passed away during the parliamentary break. Don was one of the few Members of Parliament to lose their seat and make a comeback. The loss was felt deeply by Members on both sides.
Here’s this week’s #5and5.
1. On Wednesday Bill Shorten launched Two Futures, a book written by Labor MPs Clare O’Neil and Tim Watts. Two Futures asks the important questions to examine what Australia will look like in 2040. In Labor’s year of ideas, this book is packed with plenty of them. Bill said "Two Futures is underwritten by an optimism that a better nation is within our grasp. It is this idea of an empowered choice, an ability to seize the moment, a chance to make change work for all Australians, that appeals to me.” I’m sure Tim and Clare would want me to remind everyone that Two Futures is available in all good book stores.
2. On Thursday, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Brendan O’Connor, highlighted how Tony Abbott’s Union Royal Commission has been completely undermined by the PM’s hand-picked Royal Commissioner agreeing to speak at a Liberal Party fundraiser. How can anyone have faith in the findings of the Union Royal Commission when its chief inquisitor agreed to speak at a Liberal Party fundraiser?
3. We are watching the new Speaker carefully. A new Speaker was an opportunity to return Question Time to what it is supposed to be, an opportunity to hold the Government to account. While some of the more obvious bias seems to have gone, there are still some approaches which need to be constantly challenged. This week it was the new generation of Labor MPs who held the Speaker to account. Jim Chalmers, Terri Butler, Pat Conroy, Andrew Giles, Tim Watts and Clare O’Neil, all from the class of 2013, constantly sought to return the Speaker to the Standing Orders and bring balance back to Question Time.
4. Warren Truss, the Minister for Infrastructure, tried to claim he built a bridge. He seemed rather proud of this, as you’d expect him to. His name is actually the title of a particular type of bridge (this is true, please Google “Warren Truss bridge"). Albo couldn’t help pointing out that the bridge was in fact built by workers, not the LNP, and funded by Labor. Warren no longer seemed so happy.
5. Sarah Henderson, the Member for Corangamite, complained about people using props in the Parliament. If you had watched it on TV, you would have seen her wearing a promotional scarf and all of a sudden seeming a bit confused about the point of order. While the microphones didn’t pick it up, this was because Tanya Plibersek had just called out “You do realise you’re wearing a prop”.
1. On Thursday we learned that Tony Abbott’s hand-picked Union Royal Commissioner, Dyson Heydon AC QC, had accepted an invitation to speak at a Liberal Party fundraiser. The invitation included a Liberal Party of NSW logo, asked for cheques to be payable to the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division) and said “all proceeds from this event will be applied to State election campaigning.” By his own actions Dyson Heydon has disqualified himself from continuing to lead TonyAbbott’s political witch hunt. I sought to move a censure motion against the Prime Minister on this, you can watch it here.
2. It was clear at the beginning of the week the Abbott Government is in chaos, with the different factions of the Liberal Party in all out war with each other. This was obvious when Christopher Pyne reportedly accused Tony Abbott of “branch stacking” with the Nationals to stop a free vote on marriage equality. Since the six hour fight in the Liberal Party room on Tuesday, Cabinet Ministers have been at war with each other in the media. No one knows what their new position is, including them.
3. Thirty three times Tony Abbott promised Australians there would be no changes to the GST, yet over the Parliamentary break we continued to see Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey blackmail the states into increasing the GST by not backing down from their $80 billion cut to the States' schools and hospitals funding. On several occasions we asked Tony Abbott to recommit to "no changes to the GST" and he refused. Not only that, he wouldn’t even say the letters out loud.
4. This week the Government announced its Emissions Reduction Target, which is supposed to be the Government's scheme to limit global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius. The Prime Minister described this as the same target as the United States, which is absolutely wrong. The Prime Minister also called wind turbines “unnecessary”. Being stuck in the past is a problem. Wanting the rest of Australia to keep him company there is a disaster.
5. At the beginning of the week we laid down two important markers for the new Speaker: One, answers have to be relevant to the questions asked, and two, questions must be relevant to the Minister’s responsibilities. It will take a little while to see how the rest of the term pans out, but so far the rulings on these two have been almost identical to the rulings which used to be given by Bronwyn Bishop.
Finally, there were a lot of reports about me last week and it would be wrong for me to just skip over them. Some were accurate, some were not. You can read the transcript where I explained the events here. There is also an apology from News Limited issued here.
The #5and5 will be back next week.
PS: This week’s #5and5 song of the week is in honour of the six hour meeting the Coalition held on Monday. Not my favourite band, but the lyrics from Chicago Indi Band, Sea Lanes are perfect. Here’s: Endless Meeting.