The 5and5 - Week ending 25 November 2016

It’s getting pretty tense in Canberra as we approach the end of the year. The sharks are circling around Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the government is desperate to not look chaotic, and Scott Morrison is angry. Admittedly that last bit is true every week.

 

Here’s the #5and5.

 

Best

1. Today is White Ribbon Day. In a speech that none of us will forget, Emma Husar told her own story on behalf of thousands of other women and children experiencing family violence. The speech lasted five minutes. It’s impact will reach into homes and refuges everywhere.

2. Bill Shorten stood tall in his support for modern multicultural Australia. In responding to a speech from Malcolm Turnbull on national security, Bill didn’t miss:

“There are not enough walls, weapons or technology to guarantee safety alone, unless we deploy our citizens in the pursuit of combating extremism. And of course when I talk about our citizens I am mindful that one of the most powerful assets in fighting terrorism does not wear a uniform or wield a weapon. It is our united, harmonious, inclusive nation.”

No-one in the Parliament knows more about counter-terrorism than Anne Aly. In a series of speeches and statements this week, Anne made clear, the path to deradicalisation lies in inclusion not division. Her interventions were the perfect example of Labor following the maxim that Michelle Obama used during the US election: “When they go low, we go high.” 

3. On Monday, Malcolm Turnbull was still overseas so our nation was being run by Barnaby Joyce. Yes. The nation survived this moment. As Barnaby stood up at the start of Question Time Chris Bowen interjected: “What a country! Look at this kids, anyone can do it”.

4. Last email I mentioned how Peter Dutton tried to show his other side by trying to be funny which resulted in the new point of order from Albo on “weirdness”. Scott Morrison at least makes no attempt to pretend he has another side. Every time he gets up, he starts a little bit angry and finishes very angry. Even during interviews lately he has taken to shouting and being, well, angry. So now when he stands up the interjections follow quickly: Bowen “Why don’t you try anger this time”, Plibersek “Try shouting for a change”, Albanese “Fire up, son”. He needs no encouragement really.

5. The Liberals and Nats have never liked compulsory superannuation. They seemed much happier before the Hawke-Keating years when superannuation was only available to public servants or the very rich. But this week Kelly O’Dwyer found a brand new Liberal argument against the super funds which caused the room to spontaneously collapse into laughter. She told the super funds they needed to be more like the banks. This prompted Tanya Plibersek to ask:

“It has been revealed that Australia's biggest banks will have to pay almost $180 million in compensation because they spent years charging over 200,000 customers fees for services that they did not actually receive. Is this what the minister meant when she said she wanted to lift superannuation funds to the same standards as banks? Does the minister really want superannuation account holders to be treated the way banks treat their customers?

 

Worst

1. Peter Dutton’s comments were ugly. During the week he tried to change what he’d said to shift the focus, but there’s no avoiding why this issue blew up. He claimed Malcolm Fraser let the wrong people into Australia because of the children and grandchildren some of them had. When asked who it was he shouldn’t have let in, he answered with race and religion. It’s the first time a Minister for Immigration has argued a group should have been excluded on race or religion since the days of the White Australia policy.

2. You know those movies when a sleeper agent seems relatively normal until they hear a trigger word and suddenly become violent or angry? The trigger word for Malcolm Turnbull is Medicare. Just mention it and he’s off on a tirade about calling in the Federal Police and claiming the only reason people don’t like him is because of a text message. Well it turns out the trigger word now applies to his whole Government. A Sydney grandfather has also now received legal threats from the Government over using the Medicare logo on a website he set up to campaign to save Medicare. Turnbull had no answer when asked if his Government would also take legal action against four of his own Liberal colleagues, including his health minister for using the Medicare logo.

3. It’s four years this week since Labor signed the Murray-Darling Basin Plan into law. Barnaby Joyce put in writing to the South Australian Water Minister that he didn’t intend to implement the entire plan which would leave the rivers with 450 gigalitres less water than had been agreed by both sides of politics in 2012. We can’t allow the previous bipartisan agreement on the Murray Darling Basin to fall apart so there will be plenty of campaigning over the next few months to ensure we protect the Basin. There aren’t any jobs on a dead river. If the Government follows its current path, the environment and communities will both lose.

4. So after all the discussion about whether or not the Government would allow a free vote on marriage equality it turns out there is one issue where you can cross the floor: guns. On the vote in the Senate on the Adler shotgun - not one member of the National Party voted with the Government. And yes, that’s the same shotgun that was at the centre of the guns for votes scandal.

5. This one will continue into next week so watch this space. At the time of writing the Government is claiming it won’t accept the compromise put forward by the Senate on the backpackers bax. The Government is claiming it would rather have tax at a level that means hardly any backpackers visit Australia than allow the compromise supported by Labor. Bizarrely, they’d rather wreck the place than govern.

So next week is the final week for the year. You can expect the undermining of Malcolm Turnbull to continue, the backpackers tax to be high profile and there’s always an outside chance Scott Morrison will get angry.

‘til  then,

Tony

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PS. The night before the Guide to the Draft Murray Darling Basin Plan was released back in 2010 I was at the front bar of the Espy Hotel and out walked Mark Seymour with a guitar and played the perfect song to remind us all of the importance of the Basin. Here’s the song of the week from the Hunters and Collectors, When the River Runs Dry