From Prince Philip to Mal Brough, it’s been quite a year in the Australian Parliament. Here’s the #5and5 for our final parliamentary sitting week for 2015.
1. At the end of the Parliamentary year frontbenchers take time to reflect on the year that was and wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas. Bill gave a great speech this year and made a special point of mentioning those Australians who will be at work over Christmas including the firefighters, ambos, nurses and police officers who make our communities better places.
2. Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, continued to methodically and forensically interrogate Mal Brough this week. His former life of a QC was on full show. By Thursday, Mark and Labor had moved four censure motions in the Parliament against Mal Brough for misleading the House five times in three days, and against Malcolm Turnbull for not taking action to sack the Special Minister of State.
3. The journalists aren’t very happy with us. Every Question Time for weeks Labor has been asking Malcolm Turnbull about his plans to increase the GST, and they think it’s boring. But if your household expenses are already tight, an increase in the GST leaves you nowhere to go. So even though Mal Brough was the main focus of Question Time this week, Labor MPs continued each day to stand up for people against an increase to the GST.
4. Tim Watts stepped up and gave a great speech on why fringe elements in the Liberal Party are so wrong in their approach to social cohesion.
5. On Wednesday night, Labor held our end of year function. Tanya Plibersek gave a great speech in which she quoted Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, James Carville, on the eve of the 1993 Presidential election. Carville said "There's a simple doctrine: outside of a person's love, the most sacred thing that they can give is their labor. And somehow or another along the way, we tend to forget that. Labor is a very precious thing that you have. Anytime that you can combine labor with love, you've made a good merger.” This doesn’t just apply to MPs and staff, it applies to you and every single person who has made a contribution to the Labor cause in 2015 - thank you.
1. Last week I told you about the search warrant and Mal Brough's 60 Minutes interview. This week we asked questions about text messages sent by Brough in relation to the allegations. His reply was that all the documents referred to had been provided to the Federal Court. Albo yelled out that was the problem!
2. We found out on Thursday the Greens had done a deal with the Liberals to help large companies continue to avoid tax transparency. According to the Australian Tax Office, one in five companies with a turnover of more than $100 million don’t pay tax. We had the Government holding its own multinational tax transparency bill hostage in the Senate to stop Labor’s amendments to bring the tax transparency threshold down to $100 million. Because of the Greens' actions, around 600 large companies will avoid having to tell the public how much (or how little) tax they pay.
3. Not sure whether this belongs in the Best or the Worst, but Liberals have already started deserting Malcolm Turnbull. On Thursday, Abbott Cabinet Minister, Ian Macfarlane, deserted the Liberal Party and joined the Nationals. At the time of writing this email it’s still to be confirmed if Liberal MP, Scott Buchholz, will join him, which would change the balance of Cabinet positions within the Government. I’m looking forward to the next time someone from the Government claims they don’t have factions.
4. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the Government needs to borrow money in order to invest in future productivity and jobs. But the hypocrisy of Scott Morrison has been breathtaking. He came in repeating Joe Hockey’s claims about debt and deficit but the numbers speak for themselves. According to a report out this week, Scott Morrison has overseen a $38 billion blow out in the Budget deficit. This Government has also now overseen living standards fall in Australia for the sixth straight quarter.
5. Scott Morrison used to claim Labor were the only party to have modelled an increase in the GST; he usually fails to mention we were costing one of the Liberals’ policies. But Scott’s claim was blown out of the water this week when the Sydney Morning Herald ran a front page story about “Hockey’s secret GST plan” in which the Government has been modelling increasing the rate and broadening of the base of the GST. Make sure you get behind the campaign to make sure this Christmas isn’t the last without a 15% GST - www.noincreasetothegst.com.au
That’s it for 2015! Parliament and the #5and5 will be back next year with all the excitement leading up to the 2016 Federal Election.
I know some people prefer to say ‘Seasons Greetings’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ at this time of year, but in my part of Sydney people always wish me the best for whatever cultural or religious event they’re observing. So in the same spirit, I wish you and your families all the peace and joy of Christmas. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
PS: This week’s #5and5 song of the week is dedicated to Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to make Mal Brough a minister in his cabinet. Here’s Taylor Swift with “I knew you were trouble’.