Thứ Tư, 4 tháng 6, 2014

National political reporter

5:41pm: Can we point we point you to a a story about the Australian Ballet School’s budget win?

Fairfax Media reported today that $1 million from the May budget allowed the school to buy a $4.7 million Melbourne mansion as its new residence.

The school’s chair Leigh Johns says the mansion is part of the institution’s “duty of care” to students.

Here’s a pic of Arts Minister George Brandis standing in front of the “sold” sign.


5:32pm:Parkinson tells the estimates committee that there is a “reality gap” in the Australian economic debate.

He says that he and Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens have both argued that government spending needs to be cut.

“It’s actually in the hands of the political class.”

(AKA, what more can I say?)

5:09pm: Liberal senator and “pipe bomb” carrier Bill Heffernan is now asking Parkinson questions about the sharing of tax information.

During this, the Heff is pulled up for saying “bloody”

When he asks why, he is told it is “unparliamentary”.

“Bloody hell,” says the man who has been a senator since 1996.

5:06pm:Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson is appearing before the Economics Committee.

But he is not being asked about the GDP figures or the budget.

He is being asked about that dinner at Wild Duck last week.

Parkinson tells Penny Wong that the food had been ordered for four people (Turnbull, ParkinsonLiberal Party’s vice-president Tom Harley and businessman John Fast) last week, before Palmer showed up.

He was also sitting at the other end of the table to Palmer.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is not happy about the topic.

“I’d love it if you asked some questions about the budget.”

(I am getting deja vu here about Wong’s complaints about the Bob Carr Diary questions earlier today.)

Treasury Secretary Dr Martin Parkinson and Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann during estimates.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

4:41pm: After watching out for Morrison, Turnbull has done an interview with 2GB Radio in Sydney.

Here, he told Ben Fordham that he had dinner with Tony Abbott in Canberra on Sunday.

Tony and I are very close. We talk a lot on a range of issues,” the Communications Minister said.

He also said that the Prime Minister “is completely secure in his position”.

When pressed by Fordham, Turnbull acknowledged that people did stop him in the street, suggesting he should be leader.

Turnbull said he thanks them but declines the idea.

The Coalition is a team and there is not a “cigarette paper” of difference between Turnbull and the PM.


4:25pm: I’m not sure what they were worried about. 

Yes, Ewen Jones has been thrown out twice, but Coalition bootings are still a statistically rare event.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

4:23pm: They say that in politics you always have to watch your back.

But here’s an example of the backwatching being shared.

During QT, Scott Morrison’s heckles caught the eye of Madam Speaker.

But then this caught Malcolm Turnbull’s eye, who stepped in to warn his colleague.


Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

4:16pm: Last night’s Australian Mint appearance before estimates yielded some tres interesting insights about money.

Did you know that demand for coins is declining?

And that there is a proposal for a review into the “coin array” for Australia, which will look at the 5 cents?

In fact it costs 6 cents to produce a 5 cent coin!

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has decreed this to be “not sensible”.

Also not sensible is the number of coins that disappear every year.

Some 255 million coins are lost each year, with a value of about $110 million.

So look down the back of the couch, Australia!

3:52pm:Dan Harrison has been watching the Department of Social Services appear before the Community Affairs committee.

He reports that Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield, has provided an update on the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

And the Minister has a good story to tell.

Fifield said in the third quarter of the scheme’s operation, the average cost of support packages had been brought down to $35,000 which was the amount budgeted for.

(In the first quarter of the scheme, the average package cost was 30 per cent higher than budgeted for, fuelling fears of a cost blowout. In the second quarter, average package costs fell, but were still 15 per cent higher than budgeted.)

Fifield also said the National Disability Insurance Agency had lifted its game in bringing people into the scheme. In the first and second quarters, the numbers of people getting support was only about half the targets. But by the end of the third quarter, the scheme had 6861 participants, about 80 per cent of its target.

“I do want to place on record my admiration for the staff of the agency for the incredible effort they’ve put in, not only in getting the trial sites up and running, but also for keeping a weather eye to the sustainability of the scheme and to delivering the scheme within the funding envelope that’s been agreed between all jurisdictions,” he said.


3:47pm: What a difference a day makes.

Clive Palmer has written to Peta Credlin to say it was a “matter of great regret” if his words “caused her any personal anguish” with his comments on paid parental leave.

He is in Brisbane today (yep, we know, parliament is happening in Canberra).

Palmer says he sent the letter yesterday at 9am.

But he is sticking by his PPL critique.

He argues he is standing up for stay-at-home mothers.

“I said [Credlin] was eligible if she got pregnant. And what I was saying was because she is an outstanding woman who gets a high salary. She would be eligible.”


3:16pm: At 3.10pm, Warren Truss brings an end to question time.


3:15pm:Peter Dutton has been dixered on Medicare.

This sees him come back again to call Jenny Macklin the mother of the co-payment.

Macklin jumps up draw Madam Speaker’s to the fact she has already denied she every supported a co-payment.

“Under the statement I made earlier today, there is no cause for intervention. The Minister has the call,” Bishop replies.

Macklin can make (another) personal explanation later if she likes, to dispute Dutton’s claim.


Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Health Minister Peter Dutton during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

3:07pm: Its 3pm, so about time the government talks about frontbencher and former academic Andrew Leigh.

Malcolm Turnbull has been asked about the NBN.

The Communications Minister talks about “Conrovian electrodes” involved in converting Leigh’s opinions [on some issues] from pro-Coalition to pro-Labor ones.

“Can you imagine the thought reform the member for Fraser has had?” Turnbull says. 

“It is very hard to force somebody who is highly intelligent to be stupid all the time.”

Turnbull reckons that Labor must be saying: “if only we had got him from the AWU, not the ANU”.

3:02pm: We should also note that a dixer to Scott Morrison about Operation Sovereign Borders just now was too much for Labor shadow Richard Marles.

He has been kicked out.

Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

3:00pm: As Warren Truss answers a question about the federal budget and cuts in the Queensland budget, Gareth Hutchens reports on a decision from the Fair Work Commission:

The FWC has decided to lift the minimum wage by $18.70 a week for Australia’s lowest paid workers.

The decision will affect over 1.5 million employees who are reliant upon award rates of pay or the national minimum wage.

It means full-time workers who currently receive about $622 a week will see their pay increase to $640.90.

It also means the national minimum wage will rise by 3 per cent.

“Over the past five years, the rate of growth in average earnings and bargained rates of pay have outstripped the growth in minimum wages for award-reliant workers,” Commission president Justice Iain Ross has said today.

“This has reduced the relative living standards of award-reliant workers.”

Last year the minimum wage rose by $15.80 a week.


2:53pm: After another Bowen to Hockey number on the PEFO, we have a dixer to Christopher Pyne about education.

Will the Minister inform the House how the government’s higher education reforms will fairly share the cost of tuition fees for education between the tax payers of Australia and students, in regional Australia …?

Pyne says that the government is reforming higher education in Australia so “young people from all walks of life will get the opportunity to go to university”.

Another question to Pyne – from Labor’s Clare O’Neil about how many members of the Coalition cabinet were beneficiaries of a free or manageable HECS education – proves a little rowdier.

He quotes Paul Keating saying there is no such thing as a free education.

And then notes that in the UK, where fees were deregulated, there are more students from poorer backgrounds studying.

“Get off your green left agenda and start standing up for students from low SES backgrounds like I am!”

Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

2:46pm: We note here that national security correspondent David Wroe has written about DFAT head Peter Varghese’s response to Bob Carr’s Diary.

Varghese told estimates today that Carr had ignored the department’s request to see an advance copy of his book.



2:43pm: There is a dixer to Julie Bishop about foreign aid spending.

Somehow this concludes with the observation that “if you ever wanted an example of the narcissism, the self-indulgence, the immaturity that ran through the Labor Party in its six years in government, Bob Carr is it”.

2:39pm: We have a standard dixer to Joe Hockey on the carbon tax before things get really angry in a Labor question to Hockey.

It has seen the Treasurer talking about how there are now “no children floating in the ocean between Australia and East Timor”.

It began with Bowen asking him about the PEFO. And how since then, the government has doubled the budget deficit, “in order to provide an excuse for [Hockey"s] budget of broken promises”.

It quickly saw Hockey talk about the number of boats that arrived in Australia when Bowen was Immigration Minister.

“There were more boats coming in than there were planes at Sydney airport!”

Hockey then argues that because the Coalition had stopped the boats (and saved $2.5 billion) “there are no children floating in the ocean …”



2:32pm:Andrew Wilkie has the crossbench question.

The same Andrew Wilkie who says he wants parliament to vote against the budget bills.

Wilkie begins by saying he is going to vote against the supply bills, which brings a sarcastic “oooh” from the chamber.

He asks Hockey:

Will you commit to redo the budget or take it to an election if supply is in fact, blocked?

Before Hockey can answer, Madam Speaker hops in.

“I would advise the member for Dennison, we no longer have supply bills, but appropriation bills. I assume that is what you are referring to.”

The Treasurer is no less scathey in his response.

“What is your alternative? What is your alternative to Labor’s legacy of $667 billion of debt?”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie during QT Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

2:27pm: After a dixer from Wyatt Roy to Joe Hockey about the importance of responsible budgetary management, Shorten comes back to Truss.

In light of today’s GDP figures, can you explain why the government’s ugly budget is putting a new tax on petrol and going to the doctor? And why it is hurting pensioners and families (etc)? 

Truss says that today’s figures are encouraging, “but we are by no means out of the woods”.




Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

2:22pm: After a dixer to Truss on the government’s asset recycling fund, Labor asks again about forecasts.

Bill Shorten asks Warren Truss, thus:

On the one hand, the Minister for Immigration said yesterday that PEFO is where officials tell the truth about what the budget really is. On the other hand, the Treasurer has previously said that the PEFO clearly does not represent the state of the budget.

Acting PM, the Treasurer and the Minister for Immigration can’t both be right about PEFO. Who is telling the truth?

Truss starts by saying that Hockey has already given a “complete” answer to this question.

He says that figures changed between PEFO and the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Update (after the Coalition came in) because Labor had “not told the truth” on money matters.

(I don’t know about you, but when people start talking about PEFO and MYEFO after lunch, it is a worry …)



2:18pm: Question time proper begins with a snub to Truss.

The first question is from Chris Bowen and goes to Joe Hockey.

I refer the Treasurer to comments yesterday in question time from the Minister for Immigration where he said, “As we know, the Pre-Election Fiscal and Economic Outlook is where the officials tell the truth about what the budget really is from the previous government. That is what it does”.

(This is in contrast to comments from Hockey he would not rely on the PEFO statements).

Treasurer, isn’t the Minister for Immigration right on this question?

Hockey begins by thanking Bowen for the question.

“It was totally unexpected!”

He argues that the Coalition has come in to fix the joint. 

“That is one of the reasons why I am absolutely positive our forecasts are more accurate than anything [Labor] have ever delivered.”


Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

2:12pm: We being QT with a lengthy (and we have to say difficult to follow) response from Madam Speaker about a concern that Tony Burke raised on Monday.

He was protesting about Peter Dutton saying Jenny Macklin supported a GP co-payment in the 1990s, even though Macklin has told the House she didn’t

He cited standing order 68.

“This is the first occasion that an issue under the new standing order has been raised,” Madam Speaker says.

There is talk of “the difficulties faced by the chair”.

There is reference to how the Oxford Dictionary defines “correct”.

It is unclear how things will proceed in future. But it appears Madam Speaker is ruling in favour of Dutton.

Bronwyn Bishop asks for members to “show a degree of tolerance to whomever is in the chair”.

She proposes to re-evaluate her approach “if there are undesirable consequences, particularly on the free flow of ideas”.




1:59pm: Stay tuned.

It’s just about time for question time.

With Warren Truss in the big chair.


1:45pm: And the good old days.


Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Former Prime Minister John Howard. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

1:43pm: Peace.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke congratulates former Prime Minister John Howard after his address the National Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

1:38pm: Both former PMs are also asked about international affairs.

“If you are going to be talking about the security of the region, keep in mind not just the US pivot to Asia, but the Russian pivot to Asia,” says Hawke.

“The constant goal of Australian foreign policy should be to preserve close, albeit different relations with [the US and China],” says Howard.

Hawke then adds that we should not only talk about China’s “shortcomings”.

He points out that “hundreds of Americans are being murdered each year … because of the political weakness of the Americans [over gun laws].”

1:28pm:Hawke is asked if an opposition can expect to be elected in normal circumstances, simply by opposing, without presenting a platform.

“The answer to that depends on how bad the government is going.”

The former Labor PM says that while he will not go into the merits of the budget, “the government is not travelling well”.

“But that I think, will not last.”


1:25pm:Jim Middleton says that he is going to ask a “blunt” question.

“Isn’t the fact of the matter that when it came to managing reform, both of you were simply better at it than the current crop of politicians on either side of the political fence?” 

“Yes!” Hawke declares delightedly, and grabs Howard’s hand, victory-style.

Howard has this to say:

“Could I say very gently to the current opposition … that if you’re worried about the influence of minor parties, one way of eliminating their influence is for the two major parties to get together on a sensible change.”

1:19pm: It’s warm, fuzzy and fascinating when old adversaries get along.

Like an antidote to what happens in politics day to day.

Former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and John Howard. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

1:15pm: These guys really do look like they’re having a party up there.


Former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and John Howard at the Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

1:12pm: As Howard wraps up his stand alone comments, he doesn’t quite back in Hawke on getting rid of the states.

Howard agrees that that if “you were starting again, you wouldn’t have them”, but “you won’t get rid of them”. 

(So pipe down, Campbell and co!)

1:08pm:Howard adds that in this less ideological age – one downside is that we “sometimes lose the capacity to argue the case”.

“We think it’s sufficient that we utter slogans.

“In truth, in politics you need slogans and arguments.”

He is also critical about the growing trend of people on both sides of politics, whose “only life experience has been politics”.


1:06pm: The former member for Bennelong, talks of two great shifts during his time in politics.

The first is the fall of communism – “there is no real argument anymore that fundamentally, we live in an economic environment”.

The second is that politics is now “less tribal”.

“There has been a fragmentation on both sides … politics has become less ideological.”

1:04pm:Howard says that it was a “daily privilege” to be PM for almost 12 years.

“I never lost the sense of excitement and privilege. No matter how difficult the days were,” he says.

“The first expression of gratitude I make is to the Australian people for giving me the extraordinary opportunity.”


1:01pm: Next up, John Howard follows for a brief address.

He starts with the observation that one of the constants in his political life was the press.

“It was always there.”

12:58pm: Now, what does Bob Hawke think about the current political situation?

1. He still thinks “we’d be much better off without the states”.

2. He is disturbed by the current attitude Australians have towards the parliament – “I do think that something ought to be done to lift the quality of the performance in the parliament”.

Hawke says he thinks that the government and Labor should get together and talk about this.

3. The former PM also wants Australia to take a “global view” about global warming. He suggests Australia takes more nuclear waste – as one of the safest locations in the world to store it.

Hawke says he hopes the life on the planet “as we know it” will not be destroyed.


12:52pm: Awww.

Hawke also gives a shout out to his personal assistant, Jill Saunders.

She has been with Hawke since his first day of leader of the opposition – and still works for him today.

“And she looks as young and beautiful as ever.”

12:50pm: The former PM adds that he was also very fortunate in terms of his ministry.

“I had an outstandingly good ministry and cabinet.”

Hawke says he thinks “John would agree … he’s a reasonable man most of the time”.

Former Prime Minister John Howard listens to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

12:48pm:Hawke begins by talking of his parents as the source of his inspiration.

“They both had an enormous sense of commitment to the less fortunate in society.”

He then talks of his luck in terms of timing when he came to parliament at the end of 1980.

“You know the story of my election to the leadership, so it meant that I had the ideal period of time in what is the worst position in politics: the leader of the opposition.

“Three weeks – and it was all during the election.

“The only way to be the leader of the bloody opposition!”

12:41pm:Bob Hawke gets first go at the lectern.

“In the letter of invitation I received, [the press club"s Maurice Reilly] said that he would like me to reflect on my political career, to reflect on the current political situation, and on my aspiration s for Australia’s future and generously allocated me eight to ten minutes to cover that field,” he begins. 

“I will do my best.”

12:38pm:Hawke and Howard shake hands to hearty applause at the press club.

Today’s format will be a bit different from usual.

Instead of the speech and then questions from the crowd, senior journos Jim Middleton and Laura Tingle will help lead a more casual “conversation”. 

We hear that between the two of them, Hawke and Howard have appeared at the p club 57 times before.



Former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and John Howard on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

12:25pm: These guys actually get along pretty well these days.

(Should we point out how Bob’s got some wine going but not John?)

Former Prime Ministers John Howard and Bob Hawke in discussion ahead of their address to the National Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

12:24pm: With Tony Abbott out of the country, don’t think we are out of prime ministers.

We have two of them down at the press club.

Bob Hawke and John Howard are about to give a special address for the National Press Club’s 50th anniversary.

“A reflection on life and politics.”


Former Prime Ministers John Howard and Bob Hawke in discussion ahead of their address to the National Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

12:19pm:Treasurer Joe Hockey has been addressing the nation from the Blue Room at parliament, in front of banners advertising “Australia’s Economic Action Strategy”.

He disagrees with Wayne Swan’s analysis of the GDP figures

“We have a very solid foundation for future growth,” Hockey says.

“But, as I’ve said on many occasions, future growth must be earned and these national accounts prove that our Economic Action Strategy is absolutely right.”

In response to questions, he says that the government’s budget forecasts are still “exactly right”.


12:15pm: Canberra is not without its *cough* assertive independents, as you know.

As Lisa Cox reports, Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie was out in parliament last night saying that opposition and crossbench MPs should block the government’s budget bills.

This is to show they are “fair dinkum” in opposing the tough budget measures.

Labor has said it will not block supply, as this would be “anti-democratic”.

(How 1975 is that?)

12:09pm: Let’s check in with our southern cousins.

The Age’s Benjamin Preiss and Richard Willingham reports that Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has shied away from triggering the immediate downfall of the Napthine government.

Andrews will push to have “rogue” MP Geoff Shaw found in contempt of the state parliament and expelled.

Geoff Shaw is a rorter,” Andrews said.

This would trigger a byelection in Shaw’s Frankston seat just months before the state election, due in November.


12:02pm: During the destroyer presser, the Defence Minister was also asked about the PM’s plane woes this morning.

(The Royal Australian Air Force runs five Special Purpose Aircraft for the PM’s and government use.)

Johnston says that when the Coalition came into power, it found that Labor had renewed the contract with the current fleet.

“I was very unhappy about that,” he says.

“These aircraft are old, require increased maintenance … We wanted to change them out.”

The Defence Minister adds that he is “extraordinarily concerned” that the second aircraft had to be brought out.

“This is again another example of the legacy of the previous government.”

11:47am:Joe Hockey is due in the Blue Room at 12 midday to talk about the National Accounts.

So Mathias Cormann and David Johnston better get out of the way.

They are in there are the moment to talk about a “reform strategy” for the Air Warfare Destroyer program.


11:45am: Aaaand it has not taken long for the politicking to start on these GDP numeros. 

11:41am:Economics writer Gareth Hutchens has the latest GDP figures.

And as Professor Farnsworth might say, it’s good news, everyone!

The latest GDP figures show the economy has grown by 3.5 per cent over the last 12 months, on seasonally adjusted figures.

Economists were only expecting growth of 3.2 per cent.

So Treasurer Joe Hockey should be happy with that.

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show economic activity increased by 1.1 per cent in the first three months of this year, with major contributions coming from net exports, consumption and fixed capital investment.


11:36am: The foreign affairs committee is spending a lot of time debating how much time will be devoted to Carr’s Diary. 

Labor wants to get back to talking about broader portfolio issues, like staffing levels (which Penny Wong argues are more important). The Coalition wants to stay on the book.

“It’s a bit like beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Brandis shrugs.


11:24am:John Faulkner notes that – unlike Carr – he has never been to a meditation session.

(“I’m just a very easygoing guy.”)

The Labor senator also makes the point that many MPs have food and beverage needs.

For example, as a non-drinker, he needed something different to drink during toasts as Defence Minister.

Faulkner asks:

“Whether it’s standard operating procedure for the department to have an understand of a Minister’s dietary requirements? Because some of us are a little eccentric.” 

Department head Peter Varghese says that yes, allergies and the like are looked after.



11:17am:Labor’s Penny Wong wonders (optimistically): 

“I’m just wondering when we’ll end the book club session?”


11:16am: Over in estimates, the Department of Foreign Affairs is appearing.

Liberal Senator Sean Edwards has been asking many questions about Bob Carr’s diary.

George Brandis is the duty government senator here and notes: 

“He’s not a naif. He should have known better.”

Edwards presses on:

Did Mr Carr ever ask Australian officials that his hotel provide steel-cut oats?

DFAT’s Jeff Roach says he does not think the department can provide an answer on this one.

Brandis says: “we’ll take it on notice”.


11:10am:Peta Credlin is also accompanying the PM on his trip.

(This is normal, everyone. So don’t freak out.)

Peta Credlin, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, boards her flight on the backup plane. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

11:02am:Daniel Flitton writes on the Lowy Poll here.

Including the finding that there is overwhelming public support in Australia for ye olde turnbacks.


10:56am: The PM’s trip coincides with the release of the annual Lowy Institute poll.

The foreign policy think tank surveyed 1,000 Australian adults in February this year.

When asked who Australia’s “best friend” in Asia is, China came out on top (31 per cent).

Japan was next (28 per cent), followed by Singapore (23 per cent).

And only THEN do we get to Indonesia (9 per cent).

Seventy per cent of those polled also said it was acceptable for the Australian government to spy on governments of countries “with which Australia does not have good relations”.

Of those, 65 per cent said it was OK to spy on China, and 62 per cent said it was cool to spy on Indonesia. 

Ahead of the rest of the PM’s trip, 54 per cent said it was OK to spy on the US and 53 per cent said it was OK to spy on the French.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott boards his flight on the backup plane. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

10:44am: The Prime Minister’s plane has left Canberra!

At last!

He is now on his way to meet SBY.

The PM’s office say that some extra time was built in to the schedule, so there is still plenty of time to get there.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott boards his flight on the backup plane. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

10:26am: The Labor leader also has this to say about Abbott, the international man of diplomacy:

“I don’t think anyone gives Mr Abbott a pass mark for his international people skills.

“The relationship [with Indonesia] before Mr Abbott was Prime Minister was good. The relationship is not so good now.”

10:23am: Now, Shorten has some advice for the PM.

He thinks the he should use the “valuable thinking time” – waiting at airports and waiting for world leaders on his trip – to “think about Australian families” and the “harm” the budget is doing.

“Reconsider this rotten unfair budget.”


10:18am: You do have to feel for Warren Truss who is left here as acting Prime Minister with the budget sell.


10:17am: The Prime Minister is stuck at the airport and Bill Shorten is visiting another school.

He’s at Ainslie Primary.

Tony Abbott’s going overseas today, we wish him well,” the Opposition Leader begins.

“But we do also say to Tony Abbott as he does his grand tour overseas … that this rotten budget is still here festering. And it will be here when you come back.”


10:09am: There was muchos condemnation of Palmer’s comments yesterday at parliament.

But was there enough outside of it?

In The Australian today, social commentator and online dating coach Bettina Arndt writes that the “wailing chorus” normally keen to point out sexism has been missing in the wake of Clive’s “top dog” extravaganza.

Over at Mamamia, Jamila Rizvi has written of a “still and telling silence”.

What do you think?

Has the “left” been too quiet about calling about Palmer’s sexism?


9:55am: During is his presser, Abbott was also asked about Clive’s Credlin moment.

“Blokes around this place have learnt to underestimate women at their peril,” he said, in general observation-mode.

“The other observation that I make is that the gentleman in question does not understand the Coalition’s policy.”

This comes as Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have pulled out of a charity dinner with the PUP leader.

They were due to auction off the opportunity to have dinner with the three of them at Wild Duck (Ha ha! That’s the place where Malc and Clive had dinner last week!) for the Press Gallery’s annual charity ball.

Last night, Turnbull and Bishop cancelled the event in light of Clive’s comments.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media on Wednesday morning. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

9:29am: The PM was at an awards ceremony at the Rooty Hill RSL last night.

So he probably didn’t have time to catch the Catalyst program about the surge in mega-fires and climate change over the past decade.


9:27am:Lisa Cox reports on Abbott’s comments about climate change as he heads off to meet Barack Obama on his travels.

When asked what he would do if Obama asked him to put climate change on the G20 agenda [G20 meets in Brisbane in November], the PM gave his clearest signal yet that CC will not be front and centre there.

“It’s … important to ensure that these international meetings don’t cover all subjects and illuminate none,” Abbott said.

“The G20 is essentially an economic meeting … So I’d be surprised if climate change doesn’t come up as part of the G20, but the focus of the G20 will overwhelmingly be our economic security, our financial stabilisation, the importance of private sector-led growth.”

9:19am: At this point, media have been asked to leave the photo-opp at the airport.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s flight is delayed because of technical issues as a secondary plane is wheeled out. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

9:19am: In fact, the first plane has been ditched and a back-up has been wheeled out.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s flight is delayed because of technical issues as a secondary plane is wheeled out. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

9:15am: In his press conference, the PM outlined his itinerary for the next week and a bit.

It goes something like this:

SBY, France, Canada and the US – including Honolulu on the way back.

“It is an important trip and it’s an honour to be going on this trip to represent the Australian people.”

Unfortunately, Abbott’s getaway has been a bit delayed. 

The Pulse is hearing there are issues with his plane.


The preparations for takeoff. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

9:07am: Before he tootled off to the airport this morning, the PM squeezed in a press conference in the Blue Room at Parliament House.

Here, he dismissed suggestions of an early election in Victoria.

He said the Napthine government was a good one and was doing a good job.

“The government should just get on with governing,” the PM told reporters.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media on Wednesday morning. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

9:04am:Prime Minister Tony Abbott is currently waiting to take off on his big trip out at Fairbairn airport in Canberra.

But as he leaves Australia, the focus is on Victoria.

The Napthine government has been plunged into crise after balance-of-power MP Geoff Shaw said he was prepared to support a no-confidence motion against the Premier and his government.

Henrietta Cook and James Massola have the story here.


8:57am: Good morning from Canberra.

Where it is a bit hard to see right now.

Fog at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

8:57am:Tony Abbott flies for Indonesia to meet SBY leaving Warren T in charge of Australia.

Bob Hawke and John Howard address the press club (re-union!) and Social Services, Education, Foreign Affairs and the Treasury face estimates.


National political reporter

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