#5and5 Tax, fair tax and no tax.

I’m including a new “at a glance” section at the start of the #5and5 to provide a summary of what follows. Here’s the week that just finished in Parliament.

At a glance

Best
1 Response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
2 Bill responds to Turnbull telling an aged care worker to get a better job
3 Cathy O’Toole gatecrashes Clive Palmer’s media conference to defend workers’ entitlements
4 Cooper v Batman
5 Dutton links crime to media (admittedly accidentally)

Worst
1 Speeches mourning the horrific death of Eurydice Dixon and all victims of violence against women
2 Senate rejects Labor’s tax cuts for working and middle income households
3 Privatisation of the ABC
4 Government accidentally votes to abolish all income tax - really
5 Greg Hunt uses motor neurone disease as a partisan attack

Now here’s the full #5and5
 

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1. The first question on Monday was from Bill Shorten asking for an update on the Government response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The same issue was raised by the Member for Swan in Question Time on Tuesday and the Liberal Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan invited Jenny Macklin to also contribute. Every time the issue was raised there was the same bipartisanship. For too long people weren’t supported and weren’t believed. There’s a determination to change all that.

2. Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised but the House of Reps went into full uproar after Bill Shorten asked the PM what he would say to a 60-year-old aged care worker from Burnie who was only receiving a $10 a week tax cut when an investment banker was receiving $7,000 a year. The PM explained what the aged care worker was entitled to. No he didn’t say the worker was entitled to a better tax cut, or a better rate of pay. Instead he explained the worker was entitled to aspire to get a better job. This theme then followed the rest of the week with Bill ending the week on Thursday reminding everyone that aspiration isn’t only about cash. 

Bill said: “We believe in the aspiration of job security and a good wage, and we don't regard the loss of 8,000 Telstra jobs as just 'what happens from time to time'. We believe in the aspiration of handing on a better deal to your kids than the one you inherited from your parents. In fact, in Labor, we believe in the oldest Australian aspiration of all: a fair go for all in this country.”
 
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3. Clive Palmer returned to Canberra with a crossbencher who used to be a member of another party who was now in his party. His party also has a new name. I’m not bothering to tell you the name of the party or about each crossbencher who has changed parties because, frankly, it’s hard to keep up and it might no longer be true by the time you read this. What won’t change is that Labor’s Cathy O’Toole who represents Labor in the Queensland seat of Herbert gatecrashed the media conference to tell Clive Palmer his workers still need to be paid their entitlements.

 
 

4. Congratulations to Ged Kearney. A few weeks ago I wrote about a section of Ged Kearney’s first speech which had received very little attention. She went into detail about the true history of the man her seat is named after: John Batman. It was a story of horrific abuse against First Nations. Ged went to the hearings where seats are renamed and argued forcefully for the seat to be instead named after Indigenous activist William Cooper. Mr Cooper helped establish the Australian Aborigines League in the 1930s, and campaigned for King George V to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples direct representation in Parliament and land rights. In 1938, he led a protest in Melbourne against Germany’s horrific treatment of Jews. It was the only protest of its kind in the world.

5. This was pretty funny. Peter Dutton has a fairly standard answer where he throws together various random references to unions, and motorcycles and concludes the world is at peril and all is Labor’s fault. He’s become so relaxed at the standard answer that even he wasn’t listening to himself when he started talking about “crims”. His notes told him to say some of these “crims” were linked to the mafia, but the words that came out were “We do know that outlaw motorcycle gang members have very clear links to other media”. The place fell apart laughing for a few minutes as Peter Dutton realised what he’d said and every Member of the Reps looked straight up at the members of the Press Gallery to check if any were blushing. Bill Shorten called out to Dennis Shanahan at The Australian with the words “He’s looking at you Dennis!”

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 Photo: Mike Bowers

Photo: Mike Bowers

 

1. Parliament stopped to mourn the horrific death of Eurydice Dixon, and all victims of violence against women in a vigil on Monday night. There were a series of heartfelt speeches immediately before Question Time on Monday from Terri Butler, Catherine King, Jenny Macklin, Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shorten and I’ve added them to the end of this email for you to read.

2. This week was never about whether or not working and middle income households would receive a tax cut. Both sides agreed that would happen. The only difference for these households was whether they would benefit from Labor’s policy which would nearly double the tax cut for them. The Senate rejected our amendments to nearly double the tax cut for households in the greatest need and eventually the Government got through an additional tax cut for the top 20 per cent of income earners. But they are very different tax cuts. For those in the greatest need the tax cut is $10 a week. For the top income earners, including the PM himself, the tax cut is $7,000 a year.

3. It is now Liberal Party policy to privatise the ABC. The Government claimed they would never privatise the ABC so Mark Dreyfus decided to put it to the test. He moved to bring on this debate:

“That the House resolves that it will never support the privatisation of the ABC and calls on the Government to reverse its latest damaging $83 million cut to the ABC.”

Every Member of the Government voted against it being discussed.

 
 Photo: Kym Smith

Photo: Kym Smith

 

4. The income tax cuts went back and forth between the Houses this week and on Wednesday night the Libs, Nats and One Nation in the Senate voted to support an amended Bill that was then sent to the House of Reps. But what they had voted for was extraordinary. Whether they realised it or not they had all supported a Bill that abolished all income tax from 1 July 2024. One Nation has always supported flat tax. The Government adopted this and then set the rate at zero. And if you wanted to deal with bracket creep, this approach abolished every single tax bracket. They ended up fixing it on Thursday but for a moment there it looked like Malcolm Turnbull may have created a tax haven even better than the Cayman Islands.

5. This was disgusting. Greg Hunt decided to use an answer about motor neurone disease to launch a partisan attack on Labor. Enough said.

 

Parliament is back again next week for the final session before the winter break.

‘Til then

Tony

P.S. Song of the week is dedicated to the Libs and Nats who told workers to get a better job and then lamented how unfair it was that people on higher incomes were paying higher tax. It’s Good Charlotte “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.

 
 

Speeches mourning the horrific death of Eurydice Dixon and all victims of violence against women

TERRI BUTLER: We've lost more women to sexual violence and family violence. I admire those who are using their grief and fury to call for change and those who've made personal disclosures, but we shouldn't have to package up private trauma and serve it up for public consumption in order to get change. The Prime Minister is fond of saying that violence against women starts with disrespect, but where does the disrespect come from? Violence against women and their children is structural. We need genuine change. We don't need to be told not to walk through a park alone. Every day, all women think about how to protect themselves. It's natural; it's the noise in the back of your head, something that you do almost automatically. 'Where are my keys? Should I hold them in my fingers? Should I look like I'm on the phone so that people behind me think that I'm talking to someone? If someone's walking behind me, do I walk a little faster but not so fast that they know that they have me worried?' These things are things that every woman in here knows—every single woman in this chamber and every single woman outside it. We know what we do to protect ourselves. No more women should have to die—no more women, Aboriginal women, no more women with disabilities. This must end.
[...]
CATHERINE KING: There wouldn't be a single woman in this place and beyond who has not experienced that awful moment of fear when your spine turns to ice and your heart starts racing at a million miles an hour. It might've happened walking home, going to your car in an empty car park, heading down a corridor, in your hotel room or opening the door to your home. For women who are experiencing family violence, that fear is a constant. For one young woman, Eurydice Dixon, that moment turned to tragedy. Her death in a popular Melbourne park used by hundreds of people every day has shocked our state, our city and our nation. My heart goes out to her family and her friends, the people who love her. To see such a vibrant life full of possibility cut short in such a brutal way is unfathomable. We want our women and our girls to go bravely into the world, to embrace all that life has to offer and to be able to do anything, limited by nothing. None of us want to live with that awful moment of fear, but the reality is that we do. It is not all of us every single day, but we do on some days, in some places, with some people and in some moments. We don't want to live with that fear. We're exhausted by the struggle of it and we need help. Men have to step up. That is why there has been such an outpouring of grief, anger, commentary and analysis over this tragic death. She is one of us; she is all of us. Things have to change.
[...]
JENNY MACKLIN: Tonight, thousands of Melburnians will gather at Princes Park in Carlton to remember Ms Eurydice Dixon and to reclaim the night. Eurydice was 22 years old. Her friends say she was smart, funny and kind. She was walking home from her comedy show when she sent a text to her friend, 'I'm almost home safe,' but she didn't make it home that night.
Walking home alone at night isn't a privilege; it's a right—a right each and every one of us should feel entitled to. Everyone has the right to be safe. Women are not responsible for the decisions of men who attack them. Women have every right to walk safely in our streets and parks. We have every right to be safe in our homes. One woman in Australia dies every week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. The murder of Eurydice Dixon is devastating and tragic beyond words. I know that many women, like me, are so angry as well as sad about her death—not to mention the outrageous vandalism of her memorial in Melbourne last night. It's time for all of us to harness that anger, to reclaim our streets and parks, to reclaim the night, to be home safe, to not live in fear and to change the culture of violence against women in this country.
[...]
TANYA PLIBERSEK: I rise today to join my voice with those of my colleagues who've spoken about Eurydice Dixon in preparation for the vigils that will be held around Australia tonight to commemorate a beautiful, unique woman and share the grief and anger that goes with the way that she died and the violence that she suffered. Of course, we are horrified beyond words at the terrible thing that has been done to Eurydice Dixon, but we are horrified beyond words as well that this is part of a continuum of violence against women that we are reading in the papers every day: Qi Yu in New South Wales is missing, presumed dead; an 11-year-old girl was abducted and raped; a two-year-old girl was raped in Tennant Creek. It must stop. Women have the right to walk home at night by themselves and they have the right to be safe in their own homes. One woman every week, on average, loses her life to a current or former partner. One woman in five experiences sexual violence—a figure that's actually increased since 2012 while other forms of violence are decreasing. Today, we think of Eurydice Dixon. We'll be attending a vigil tonight here in Canberra, but we think about all the women who have suffered the threat or the fear of violence and those who haven't survived.
[...]
BILL SHORTEN: I offer the sympathies of this parliament to Eurydice Dixon's family and to all the people who loved her and to the people she loved. We remember that they're not mourning a statistic or a cautionary tale; they're grieving for a person—a funny, smart, clever woman with passions and opinions, friends and family. She wasn't seeking to make a statement that night; she was just living her life. She had her phone with her, now full of 100 unfinished conversations. She was happy that her comedy performance had gone well. She was messaging a friend to check in and let him know that she was nearly home safe. None of that cost her life. Nothing she did or didn't do in any way makes her responsible for what happened. Walking home should not mean that you are risking your life. Getting an Uber, a cab or catching public transport should not be a dangerous ordeal. Women's rights in Australia must include freedom of movement, and that's about more than just better lighting and more CCTV cameras. It's about attitudes, it's about actions, it's about honesty, it's about stopping violence and stopping the enablers of violence, it's about deciding as a nation that violence against women is ultimately preventable, and it's about the example that we set for our sons. Our hearts go out to Eurydice's loved ones today. May she rest in peace.
 

Tony Burke