The #5and5 - Week Ending 29 June 2015

I can’t remember a week when a single appearance on a TV show completely derailed a government. Joe Hockey’s appearance on QandA saw the Government spend the rest of the week arguing with itself. On Thursday everything took a sharp turn as Mark Dreyfus launched into some of the most forensic questioning the Parliament has seen for a long time.

BEST:

1. Bill kicked off the Parliamentary week asking Tony Abbott about Labor’s plan, announced in Bill's Budget Reply Speech to have computer coding taught in Primary Schools. 

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The PM rejected the idea for two reasons: he said it was stupid and implied children would go to work aged 11, and then he claimed the Government was already doing it. Yep the PM’s view was it was a dumb idea and therefore the Government was already doing it. While on many issues that approach would be disturbingly accurate on this one it isn’t happening but needs to.

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2. Question time is meant to be about direct questions and direct answers. We’re halfway there. On Thursday midway through question time Mark Dreyfus repeatedly questioned Julie Bishop about what protocols were changed in Ministerial Offices including the Attorney-General’s office after we went to our highest level of terror alert in our history in September last year. These questions also raised that a month later the Attorney-General received a letter from Man Monis seeking advice about making contact with the head of Daesh (ISIS).

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After Julie Bishop refused to answer any of the questions Mark Dreyfus asked the one that really matters for the future. Would the government now handle information of this nature any differently? Christopher Pyne intervened and Bronwyn Bishop ruled the question out of order. A few minutes later the PM shutdown Question Time.

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3. We may be getting closer to a lot of the politics being removed from the debate over marriage equality. In the wake of the Irish Referendum, Bill and Tanya put a Private Member’s Bill on the Notice Paper where debate will commence next Monday. It can’t be brought on for a vote without the Government granting a conscience vote to members of the Liberal and National Parties. In answer to a question from Bill, the PM gave the strongest indication yet that a conscience vote will be granted and a debate and vote will occur this year. 

4. The absurd anomaly where the GST is applied to tampons and sanitary pads but excluded from other essential items may finally be resolved. Joe Hockey stumbled into the issue on QandA and under pressure said it should be fixed. Tony Abbott then rejected Hockey’s claims and it looked like the issue might be lost. The problem for years has been how to get the states to agree to a cut in revenue. Labor used Question Time to make clear there was a one off opportunity at the moment when the Government is offering the states extra GST revenue through the Netflix Downloads Tax to say if the states want that revenue they need to agree to take the GST of women’s sanitary products. Terri Butler has launched a petition to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity.

5. This isn’t really the best. It isn’t really the worst. I don’t know what it is. But it’s sort of mesmerising. I don’t know why Tony Abbott started dancing in Parliament, but for some reason I just keep watching it. 

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WORST: 

1. The NATSEM modelling was released on Monday on the impact of the budget on families. Jenny Macklin has been relentless in exposing that this budget is as bad for families as the last one. A typical family loses $6000 a year. 9 out of 10 of the wealthiest families are better off and 9 out of 10 of the poorest families are worse off.

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2. Tony Abbott thought he was onto something really clever when he told the Parliament the problem with the NATSEM modelling is that it doesn’t take into account second round effects. Chris Bowen didn’t miss a beat and asked whether there was a single measure in the Budget where the modelling included second round effects. Joe Hockey had to admit there wasn’t. It was yet another contradiction between the two this week. You can watch more of them here.

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It was yet another contradiction between the two this week.

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3. The Capital Expenditure figures were released on Thursday. They are the worst since the Global Financial Crisis. While the issue didn’t get much media coverage on the day this is a serious downturn in investment.

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4. Remember at school when you knew you were meant to get into trouble and didn’t feel quite right that the teacher didn’t know it was you who was talking all the time in class? That’s exactly how Ed Husic must have felt about not being thrown out under standing order 94A for a while when he tweeted this: 

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5. This hasn’t had as much publicity as it should but there was an unbelievable cut in the Budget where George Brandis raided the Australia Council funding and established his own vault to pick and choose which Australian stories would be funded and told. I warned before the election that he’d do something like this and he responded saying it was a “spectacularly brazened lie”. You can reach the campaign to let Australian stories be told without political interference here.

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Oh and in case you missed it, in a mark of true independence the Speaker ejected a member of the Liberal Party from the Parliament on Thursday. This evens up the score to Liberal 7 Labor 365.

The #5and5 will be back next week.

PS: Song of the week is from Green Day and dedicated to the Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Here’s Walking Contradiction.