What a devastating end to the week. We all woke up on Friday to the tragedy of MH17. The bipartisan speeches from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten captured the sense of loss we all felt. While there are many things that divided us this week, on Friday the Parliament stood as one in grief at this tragedy of incomprehensible proportions.
This was without a doubt the most powerful moment of the Parliament this week.
Some of the others:
1. If anyone wanted to question Labor’s commitment to acting on Climate Change, think again. Bill Shorten stood up in Parliament on Monday and made it absolutely clear Labor won’t be shifting on its commitment to limit pollution with an emissions trading scheme.
2. The Government’s budget is a shambles. On Thursday Labor Ministers highlighted the absolute mess Joe Hockey is making of the budget and the hurt it’s causing on low and middle income Australians. Great speeches from Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Chris Bowen, Catherine King and Kate Ellis.
3. Amidst all the chaos, Labor successfully moved several amendments to Government legislation in the Senate. As a result of one of Labor’s amendments, QANTAS will still call Australia home.
4. A petition signed by 2,500 Australian GPs was handed into Parliament this week calling on the Government to scrap it’s unfair GP Tax. Some of the individual stories that GPs have provided in this petition aren’t easy reading, but it’s the reality of what this Government is doing.
5. ARMAGEDDON! Tony Abbott said a leg of lamb was going to cost $100 and the town of Whyalla would be wiped off the map. Member for Charlton Pat Conroy helped win the argument with ridicule and a sense of humour this week.
1. Tony Abbott and the Liberals believe in political games not science and on Thursday made Australia the first country in the world to stop taking action on climate change. Labor will taking meaningful and effective action to tackle climate change.
2. Twice this week Richard Marles asked Minister for Immigration, Border Protection and Absolute Secrecy Scott Morrison about the 150 asylum seekers being held on a Customs vessel somewhere in or around the Indian Ocean. On both occasions Scott Morrison refused to answer the questions and just unloaded abuse.
3. Each new law has its own question time called Consideration In Detail. It’s when MPs ask the responsible Minister what the impact of individual clauses of the Bill will be. Amazingly, when we got to this part of the debate on Peter Dutton’s bill to increase the cost of prescriptions, he didn’t bother turning up ‘til the end. When he eventually wandered in he refused to answer questions, including, disgracefully, refusing to state what the impact of the Bill will be on indigenous communities.
4. House of Reps MP Clive Palmer left the House on Tuesday and walked across to the Senate to supervise the Finance Minister reading from a script Clive had insisted on. What was worse than the humiliation of seeing a PUP-Pet-eer control an Australian Minister was the outcome of this dodgy deal: Less consumer protection and more red tape.
5. If you thought the grumpy person formally known as Joe Hockey wasn’t listening, it’s actually far worse than that. On Wednesday morning he took to radio to tell Australians he’s realised Australians and the Parliament were rejecting his budget, his response… he’s now offering to make it harsher. Joe, I think you’ve missed the point.
Additionally, forget the media statements from the Government proclaiming to be proud of this budget. On Wednesday when it was time for Parliament to start so the debate on the Budget could resume, Bronwyn Bishop walked into the Chamber, took the Chair, looked around and realised that not enough Government MPs had turned up for Parliament to start. She walked out, rang the Bells again and eventually they got just enough MPs for Parliament to kick-off – that’s a special kind of enthusiasm.
After an extended Winter sitting period Parliament is now on break until late August.
PS: Song of the week this week is from iconic Australian singer song writer Paul Kelly and is dedicated to all the achievements of this Government so far.