On Thursday morning MPs from all sides of politics gathered at the Parliament House forecourt to hold a candlelight vigil to call for mercy from the Indonesian Government for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. This was by far the most important and most powerful moment this week. I was contemplating just writing about the vigil this week, but the purpose of this email is to let you know what’s been happening in Parliament, and there are certainly plenty of moments, good and bad, that need to be shared; so here they are.
- On Tuesday Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott came together to support the #HeforShe campaign. This important campaign to end gender inequality is best summed up by UN Women Ambassador, Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione Granger!), who posed these two important questions: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Learn more at www.heforshe.org.
- It’s unacceptable in 2015 one in three women over the age of 15 will face physical violence. On Wednesday, Bill announced Labor’s plan to invest $70 million to tackle domestic violence and hold a National Summit to get Commonwealth, state and territory governments working together. If Tony Abbott decides not to hold a Summit, a Labor Government will. Watch Bill’s speech here.
- On Monday Bill Shorten, Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, announced Labor’s plan to tackle multinational tax evasion. The independent Parliamentary Budget Office found Labor’s plan will save $1.9 billion over three years. It’s time this Liberal National Government got its priorities right and backed Labor’s plan to make multinational corporations pay their fair share.
- Tony Abbott always says he’ll do the right thing immediately before people vote; he did it before the Federal Election, he did it before the Victorian Election and now he’s doing it before the New South Wales Election. But by his own admission “this leopard doesn’t change its spots.” On Tuesday Shadow Health Minister Catherine King called out Tony Abbott’s GP Tax back down for what it really is. Watch here.
- On Thursday the Government finally released the Intergenerational Report; several weeks late and in breach of the law. What we found out from this report is best summed up in this speech by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen. The Treasurer tried to claim this report is written by public servants, but when Labor asked the public servants they said it was all the Treasurer’s; another lie from the Government.
- Tony Abbott wants people to think the GP Tax is gone. Yet on Tuesday Health Minister Sussan Ley refused to answer questions about whether the Government’s new plan will have the same outcome just with a different name. It doesn’t matter what they call it – a ‘tax’, a ‘co-payment’, a ‘price signal’, a ‘value signal’ or their newest favourite, ‘direct billing’ – this Government is determined to see Australians pay more to visit their doctor.
- On Thursday Catherine King asked Sussan Ley to explain how ‘direct billing’ actually works. It was a train wreck of an answer where the Minister spent the entire time not admitting to what became clear to everyone in the Parliament: she has no idea how it works.
- Last week we saw the Government’s disgraceful attack on Human Rights Commission President, Gillian Triggs. On Monday the Senate successfully censured Attorney-General, George Brandis for his role in these attacks and for being unfit to hold the office of Attorney-General. The motion passed 35:32.
- There are many, many, things wrong with the Government’s Intergenerational Report. But possibly the most disturbing thing is the Government trying to proclaim the benefits of climate change. That’s right, this report describes climate change as “beneficial”. I’m not sure what’s worse, Tony Abbott claiming the climate isn’t changing, or his new claim that climate change is good.
- Last year the Government removed guidelines setting the minimum hourly-rate for some of Australia’s lowest paid workers, Commonwealth cleaners. At the time Tony Abbott said: “I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that no cleaner’s pay is reduced.” Well, on Monday we found out he’s broken yet another promise, with new contracts showing pay cuts of $2 per-hour for some cleaners.
I don’t know what happened, but one of the more interesting moments this week was when Speaker Bronwyn Bishop yelled at Albo: “Do not answer back!” I’m not sure what he said, but clearly it worked. The #5and5 will be back in two weeks.
PS: Last week I promised Pearl Jam or Metallica. This week I am delivering. This week’s #5and5 song of the week is dedicated to Tony Abbott, a “Nothingman”.