The 5and5 - Week ending 22 April 2016

What a week! Well more like: what a day and a half! That’s really all the Parliament sat for. Malcolm Turnbull flew MPs from every corner of the country to Canberra so he could perform a political stunt, and then without even completing the stunt he got everyone to fly away again as quickly as possible.

I thought I might only be able to draw together a #2and2 given how brief Parliament was, but as it turns out the day and a half was crazy enough to still warrant the #5and5. 

The Best:

1. Malcolm Turnbull’s stunt was all about trying to pretend we should be very very afraid of trade unions. The moment the House of Representatives resumed after the message from the Governor General, Bill Shorten stood up and demanded we vote on whether the debate should be about having a Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector. Even though some Libs and Nats had made noises on the issue in their party room, they voted together to prevent debate on a Royal Commission in the Parliament.

2. So the official reason for the sitting was meant to be to debate the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bill (ABCC) and the Registered Organisations Bill. The ABCC Bill was defeated in the Senate. When he announced the recall of Parliament a few weeks ago, lots of people interpreted Malcolm Turnbull as telling the crossbench they had to vote for the Bills if they wanted to keep their jobs. Turns out, even though Malcolm Turnbull was willing to abandon long held beliefs to get his job, the crossbench worked differently. They disagreed with the Bill. They voted against it. Good. 

3. On Tuesday truck drivers from around Australia protested on the lawns of Parliament House against the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. More on this later. 

4. Tim Watts captured the mood of Parliament perfectly this week when he drew on the TV Show Seinfeld - a show about nothing, to explain this week in Parliament.

5. Finally, you may have heard the murmurs from time to time about Kevin Andrews as a future Liberal leader. Terri Butler got behind the campaign this week, inspired by Social Media, interjecting with the mock slogan: “#YesWeKAndrews”. I know people dismiss this. But let’s not forget: If Greg Hunt can increase emissions, try to remove World Heritage listings, abandon marine sanctuaries and still be deemed the Best Minister in the known Universe, then I reckon Kevin Andrews can lead the Liberal Party. 

The worst:

1. Calling the Parliament together should matter. It was appalling to see Malcolm Turnbull rush everyone back home as quickly as possible so he could avoid 100 questions by evading two weeks of Question Time.

2. On Monday night the Government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Notice when the Libs or Nats talk about it they only ever say “RSRT". They don’t want to remind people it was established to keep the roads safe given truck drivers have a fatality rate 12 times higher than other occupations.

3. So what happened to the Registered Organisations Bill? Well, three weeks ago Malcolm Turnbull said this Bill was one of the two reasons Parliament had to be recalled. The speech which the Governor General delivered on Monday morning made clear this was one of the two reasons we had been flown back to Canberra. But twelve hours later, when the program for Tuesday came out, the Bill had gone. Disappeared. It may as well have been a long held conviction of Malcolm Turnbull; it was simply nowhere to be seen.

House of Reps.jpg

4. Now, when I say the Registered Organisations Bill had disappeared byTuesday, it was somewhat worse than that. All Government legislation had disappeared. Nil. Zip. Nothing. So Bill again stood up and demanded the Parliament debate the Royal Commission into the banks and financial services. Even though there was absolutely no Government legislation before the Parliament, Government members decided they would rather debate nothing than allow a frank debate about the scandals in the banking sector in recent times.


5. Finally, Clare O’Neil asked Malcolm Turnbull a question about a 75 year old man whose financial adviser has admitted to ripping him off, yet the banks are still selling his investments and property. His local Liberal MP told him to get legal aid, despite this Government having cut funding to these services. The PM offered zero empathy and dismissed the question as “reckless populism". 

Importantly, in Question Time on Tuesday after a press conference where he refused to confirm an election date, Malcolm Turnbull did make clear that after the Budget he’ll go to the Governor General and request a July 2 election.

Three things are clear: We can win. It will be close. We can only get there with your help.  

In the coming weeks, you’ll receive plenty of requests for help. Please be part of this. Don’t waste a conversation with anyone. Help the local campaign whenever you can. Respond to the fundraising requests if you can possibly help.

When I first started writing the #5and5 it was full of references to Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Bronwyn Bishop. We’ve come a long way these three years. Time to change the Government.

PS song of the week, a particular favourite of mine:  New Radicals, You Get What You Give.

Tony Burke