The 5and5 - Week ending 18 March 2016

We’re probably down to the last handful of Parliamentary sitting days before the next election. Labor’s clearly directing the policy debate and Tony Abbott’s forces are clearly directing Malcolm Turnbull. 

The best:

1. On Tuesday Bill gave a great speech at the National Press Club outlining Labor’s plan for Australia’s future and the clear choice facing every Australian when they cast their ballot at this year’s federal election. You can watch a clip of Bill’s speech below.

2. The choice facing voters became even clearer on Wednesday when Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull went head to head in the Parliament, and Bill blew Malcolm away. The contrast between Labor's policy agenda and Malcolm Turnbull moving closer and closer to the Abbott Government’s 2014 Budget couldn't be sharper.

3. I don't believe anyone has made a bigger policy contribution to Labor’s social policy agenda over the years than Jenny Macklin. On Wednesday, Bill and Jenny launched 'Growing Together: Labor’s agenda for tackling inequality.’ It discusses the need for Australia to develop a new approach to tackling inequality in our society and how we should be aiming for full employment. There's more at


4. In a sharp reminder of how the policies that go through Parliament can change people's lives for the better or for the worse, this week Samarah and Bharat came to Parliament House to share their experiences of being exploited by an employer. Sadly their stories are not uncommon, but they have been brave enough to stand up for their rights. Bill and Brendan O’Connor have announced that a Labor Government will increase the penalties for unscrupulous employers and crack down on sham contracting. Watch Samarah and Bharat’s stories.

5. This is on the list as an indulgence to my Irish heritage. Thursday was St Patrick's Day. Plenty of us wore green, even the Chamber was green, and Brendan O'Connor delivered this tribute to the Irish influence in Australia.

The Worst:

1. Ok, so "humility" is not always Malcolm Turnbull's strongest quality. So you can imagine how he reacted when Bill interjected: “Have you won any arguments against Barnaby Joyce?” Malcolm Turnbull - not so happy at that moment.

2. Scott Morrison said he was “passionate” about providing income tax cuts. Beware when the Government claims to be “passionate” about anything. The PM was passionate about climate change once. The Treasurer followed his boss' lead this week by making clear being passionate about something means he intends to do nothing about it. Chris Bowen went through the gap between what the Treasurer said needed to happen prior to the Government dropping any reform.

3. The only thing we really know about the upcoming Budget is the Child Dental Care Benefit Scheme is likely to be cut. This isn’t a Tony Abbott cut left over from the 2014 Budget being continued by the Turnbull Government, this is 100% a decision taken by Malcolm Turnbull. Labor’s Shadow Health Minister Catherine King made Labor’s position very clear.

4. The deal between the Government and the Greens saw the voting rules changed for the Senate. Effectively, the three million people who vote for minor parties will now have their votes exhausted and thrown in the bin. If these changes had been in place eight years ago, the entire 2014 Budget from the Abbott Government would have made it through. It says it all about what the Greens have become when you see Adam Bandt voting with his new Coalition partners the Liberals and the Nationals.


5. It’s not just Labor saying Malcolm Turnbull’s the worst. “TIRING OF TURNBULL” was the headline of the Plains Producer from the small country town of Balaklava in South Australia this week. Local MP Nick Champion took great pleasure in sharing the story with the Parliament. As Nick said: “Farmers, like steel workers, like auto workers, like ship builders, know bull dust when they see it."

This also happened… I don’t know what to say about it.

Finally, I rarely put my own contributions in the #5and5, but I made a five minute speech on Wednesday straight after the PM spoke, I'd be grateful if you had a quick look.

Usually, I like to tell you when the Parliament and the #5and5 will be back, but no one seems to know. It might be back on Tuesday, 3 May or possiblyTuesday, 10 May or maybe not until after an election.

So, until whenever the Parliament sits next.

PS: This week’s #5and5 song of the week is dedicated to Tony Abbott continuing his career in the Australian Parliament. Adele said it best when she sang: “I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited but I couldn’t stay away I couldn’t fight it. I hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me it isn’t over.” Here’s Adele with “Someone Like You”.

Tony Burke