The Speaker “evened up” the number of members kicked out of the chamber this week, with the official stats now reading Labor: 105 and the Coalition: 2. Here’s the top five best and worst moments from Parliament this week.
1. Bill gave a great speech on Tuesday standing up for the low and middle income families this Government is hurting with its budget of broken promises.
2. This week the Government leaked to the media that it’s reconsidering changing Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. 18C protects against racist hate speech. If this is true, it’s great news - but the fight’s not over yet.
The Government hasn’t confirmed anything and we need to keep sending a strong message to George Brandis: No Changes. No Excuses. Keep 18C.
3. Jenny Macklin showed in Question Time just how little Ministers know about the budget.
On Wednesday Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews claimed Labor was spreading misinformation about abolishing the pension supplement. Yet, on Monday he had told ABC radio the Government was cutting the pension supplement. Either he’s lying, incompetent or both.
4. It was great to see Labor Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters asking the Prime Minister why nearly 20,000 pensioners in the seat of Mallee will have their pensions cut because their local Member, Andrew Broad, won’t stand up to Tony Abbott’s cuts.
The Coalition backbench is full of people who run a million miles from Tony Abbott when they’re in their electorates and then lock in behind him as soon as they get to Canberra.
5. Some people have been wondering whether the Speaker and I can agree on anything. This week the speaker said something good about the NSW state of origin rugby league team. So there you go, that’s something we agree on.
1. Undoubtably the worst moment this week was Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey calling for student debt to be recovered after someone dies. At the same time Joe Hockey was on TV saying it should happen, Tony Abbott was on radio promising it wouldn’t.
History shows that the more Tony Abbott rules something out, the more likely it is to actually happen – let’s see if he’s lying about debt after death too.
2. In Question Time Tony Abbott tried to claim his $80 billion cut to hospitals and schools isn’t a cut – despite his own budget papers boasting of the measure.
Stay tuned for his future revelations that black is white, up is down and the budget is fair.
3. The Liberals and Nationals tried to set a dangerous precedent on Tuesday when they used their numbers in the House to try and force me to apologise to the Speaker.
The concept of a government demanding its political opponents make specific statements used to be limited to countries like North Korea. Let me be crystal clear about this. If Government Members think they can use their majority to force Labor MPs to say something, they’ve got another thing coming.
4. Some of you might recall a video posted by the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs on budget night. It’s okay if you don’t, it was a shocker. It was revealed this week, that video cost tax payers $85,000 to make.
Based on the number of views it’s had on the Minister’s YouTube page, that works out at around $29.00 per viewer. Remember Albo’s video in our last 5&5? That cost nothing and got over 60,000 hits.
5. Finally, we learned this week that the Speaker ordered eight additional side plates to add to her already significant (more than 200 piece) Queen’s crockery dining set.
It appears the order was made a day before that $50,000 Liberal Party fundraiser held in the Speaker’s Dining Room. Only the best for those willing to shell out the $2,500 to attend.
On the Speaker, there’s been a bit of commentary lately over a reference I made to a character in the Harry Potter novels on the day Bronwyn Bishop became Speaker. Some people who are unfamiliar with the novels and films have simplified the reference to the fact that Dolores Umbridge is a witch. Anyone who knows the stories knows that almost every character whether a hero or a villain is either a witch or a wizard. The significance of Dolores Umbridge is this: small stature, impeccably dressed, perfect manners, extremely powerful, and truly terrifying to her enemies. If only she’d compel the Prime Minister to undertake the same punishment given in Order of the Phoenix and write repeatedly “I must not tell lies”.