The #5and5 - Week ending 27 November 2015


This week in Question Time, Labor kept the heat on two important issues – Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to increase the GST and the questionable actions of Special Minister of State, Mal Brough. Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to put up the cost of everything by increasing the GST is causing huge concern in the community. By the end of the week, the Government was in full protection mode, shutting down debate on Mal Brough to prevent speeches detailing his actions.


1. The week began with a sombre tone, with Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull making statements in the Parliament about the tragedies in Paris, Beirut and the Russian plane which was shot down over Egypt. With the French Ambassador sitting in the public gallery, Bill finished his speech saying: “We will stand together, many races, many languages, many faiths but one people. We share a common humanity that binds us and guides us. We re-dedicate ourselves to that today.”

2. Labor stood against the Government’s massive cuts to family payments, especially those hitting single parents and grandparent carers. The Government may have started to backdown on some of these cuts, but it’s not clear yet. What is clear is that these cuts are fully owned by Malcolm Turnbull. Some of his cuts are even harsher than those proposed by Tony Abbott.

3. On Tuesday, Bill Shorten, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and Labor’s Shadow Heath Minister, Catherine King, announced that Labor will increase the tobacco excise to continue to drive down the number of smokers. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, this policy would also raise around $47.7 billion over the medium term, helping cover some of the $300 billion cost to the economy caused by tobacco. The distinction is simple: the Liberals want to tax fresh food, Labor wants to tax tobacco.

4. Parliament is different to a court, but Mark Dreyfus QC was extraordinary this week. He pursued Mal Brough and forensically interrogating the man who is meant to be in charge of the standards for Members of Parliament. More on this below.

5. Here’s nine Labor MPs in 90 seconds talking about why increasing the rate and broadening the base of the GST is a bad idea.


1. Every week in Australia, on average, one woman is killed as a result of domestic violence. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and ill-health among Australian women. On Wednesday, Labor announced that a Labor Government will legislate for five days paid domestic violence leave for victims of domestic violence. Only by creating the right policy framework at every level of Government can we stop this scourge in our communities.

2. This weekend, Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull will be in Paris with other world leaders to talk about tacking climate change. But this week the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, refused to even answer if emissions are up or down under the Abbott-Turnbull Government. The truth is pollution has increased under the Liberals. Malcolm Turnbull has sold out to the climate change denialists on the fringes of his party and is flying to Paris carrying Tony Abbott’s climate-sceptic baggage. Yesterday, Bill Shorten announced Labor will take a policy to the next election of net zero pollution by 2050. Learn more here.


3. Malcolm Turnbull continued to have a conversation about having a conversation about the GST this week. It seems his new strategy is to pretend there is no plan to increase the GST (which means everyone pays more for pretty much everything) while telling everyone how he plans to spend the GST. It turns out the Liberals have now put on the table $128.9 billions worth of things they could spend an increase in the GST on, but increasing the GST would only raise an additional $65.6 billion by making you pay more for everything. It doesn’t add up. The only thing that does is the price of everything will increase.

4. The Standing Orders for Question Time normally can prevent the Opposition from asking questions about actions MPs took prior to becoming a Minister. Malcolm Turnbull gave Mal Brough the precise portfolio, Special Minister of State, which puts him in charge of the policy area that forms the basis of the allegations made against him. This puts Minister Brough in a special position of accountability.

5. Mal Brough. Minister in charge of parliamentary standards and integrity. A search warrant and a clear statement on 60 minutes. Neither he nor Malcolm Turnbull can see why anyone would think there’s a problem. Christopher Pyne even shut down his own speech rather than offer a defence. Enough said.

This week’s #5and5 leaves every story unfinished. The #5and5 will be back next week for the final Parliamentary sitting week of 2015, where every one of these stories will develop further.

PS: This week’s #5and5 song of the week is for no particular reason and in honour of no one in particular. Here’s Jonny Cash with Folsom Prison Blues.

Tony Burke