The #5and5 - Week Ending 5 June 2015

Warning: I’m about to give you a mental picture and there will be no going back. On Tuesday Scott Morrison started quoting Judy Garland singing Over the Rainbow during Question Time.

Almost straight away someone yelled out “if you only had a brain” and another person “or a heart” and another “or the nerve” in quick succession - it was pretty funny and not exactly how Morrison had planned for it to unfold. Not much of the week went according to their plan.


1.  Australia is going through a major transition right now. On Thursday Bill Shorten again outlined his plans to focus on the jobs of the future.


2.  The debate on Bill Shorten’s marriage equality bill started on Monday (only five Government MPs bothered showing up). Tanya Plibersek is the seconder so her speech will be delivered when Parliament resumes on Monday week.

3.  Don’t the Libs and Nats ever learn? If you cut funding to a project and then restore a fraction of what you cut, the number is still lower! On Tuesday Albo made sure they didn’t get away with their cuts to infrastructure funding. 

4.  Since the Government changed, investment in renewable energy went into free fall. Labor worked relentlessly to drag the Government kicking and screaming to the point where the Renewable Energy Target could be reset and restore investment to the industry. At the last minute the Government tried to change the rules to count burning native forests as renewable energy. Labor will be moving amendments to take these clauses out.

5.  This week we remembered Joan Kirner with the deepest respect, as a Labor Premier, mentor to many, and as one of the principle drivers of improving women’s representation in Parliament. Bill put it perfectly, saying: “Countless Australian women and men will be feeling poorer for her passing. Today we salute Joan Kirner's decades of selfless service, her passionate resolve, her unconquerable advocacy. We remember her wicked sense of humour, her hatred of pomposity and her love for the Essendon Football Club."


1.  After thirty or so years the minutes of Cabinet meetings from former governments get published. Except recently when the National Security discussion in Cabinet found its way into the newspapers. We had a situation where a news outlet knew more about the citizenship debate than the ministers responsible for National Security, Julie Bishop and George Brandis. Tony Abbott tried to claim the leaks were wrong only to have the Resources Minister say they were “very accurate”.

2. Tony Abbott spent most of last week and this week urging Labor to pass the Government’s small business measures "straight away" to boost confidence and prove Labor was serious about passing the measures. On Wednesday, Bill did just that and moved that the bills be voted on to get them passed “straight away”. The Government then voted against passing their own small business bills. Absolutely bizarre. 

3. You might remember a week ago the Government claimed Mark Dreyfus had been political for asking questions about a letter to George Brandis. Man Monis had asked Brandis about getting in touch with the leader of Daesh (ISIS) the month after we went to our highest level of security alert in Australia’s history. The Government defended itself saying the letter had been referred to the official inquiry and the inquiry had not objected to the Attorney-General’s handling of it. 

Turns out this was entirely untrue.

After Question Time had finished for this week and as people started to leave, Julie Bishop stood up and admitted the letter and the reply had not been provided to the inquiry. On the latest information it seems they knew on Monday the information was wrong and the cover up lasted all week until Question Time had finished on Thursday.

4. This week the National Accounts revealed some concerning data for the Australian economy. While GDP rose 0.9% which was above expectations, it’s in the context that expectations have been low and still below trend. In fact it’s the longest period of below trend growth for 50 years. Australia is now in its fourth consecutive quarter of declining living standards. Under Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey unemployment is set to rise to 14-year highs and the deficit has doubled from $17.1 to $35.1 billion. 

5. This week Speaker Bronwyn Bishop was acting like – well acting like Speaker Bronwyn Bishop. On Monday, Bronwyn ruled a question from Joel Fitzgibbon out of order before he even finished asking it. I moved a dissent motion against the Speaker. Lots of people who read this email have told me they don’t know how I stay so patient. Well this week, patient… not so much. I guess I’d had enough.


Finally, Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie is writing to the Queen to demand the RSPCA be stripped of its regal warrant for being too pro-animals. No. Really she is. After the PM claimed there was no time to deal with anything other than Budget issues, his backbench was prioritising correspondence with the Royal Family. 

This seemed to set off a bidding war for which National Party Senator could be the most eccentric. Another Nationals senator, Matthew Canavan, got angry about how free range egg labelling works. His argument was: wait for it… we need to consider the actions of a reasonable chicken. You really have to watch this. I promise I didn’t make it up. 

Someone needs to tell Scott Morrison we’re not in Kansas anymore.

The #5and5 will be back in a fortnight.

PS: This week’s #5and5 song of the week had to be Elton John with ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.

Tony Burke