The 45th Federal Parliament of Australia should be interesting. As in ancient curse/benison “interesting”. The #auspol hashtag on Twitter is going to get even more of a workout than usual as the just by a whisker re-elected Turnbull government tries to get something/anything passed given the current composition of both Houses. The bill to enable the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality is obviously the big one in the public square right now, but there’s so much more of Abbott’s leftover agenda that Turnbull has promised the conservative wing of the Liberal party to put before the house: is even one of those bills likely to get through?
But as the Canberra politicians put on their solemnest faces today, the world keeps turning: what news story/commentary/analysis has grabbed your attention lately?
As usual for media circus threads, please share your bouquets and brickbats for particular items in the mass media, highlight cogent analysis elsewhere online or pointed twitterstorms etc in new media. Discuss any current sociopolitical issue (the theme of each edition is merely for discussion-starter purposes – all current news items are on topic!).
Categories: culture wars, media, parties and factions, Politics
Petty annoyances about this current session:
To plebiscite or not to plebiscite, that is the question. Well, really the question should be more properly phrased as something along the lines of “how do we avoid annoying the Christian (Always) Right by recognising people who aren’t white, heterosexual and upper middle class as human beings?”
All this focus on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and how they want to get rid of the bits about “offending” or “upsetting” people. No mention of section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, which actually lists all the exceptions wherein 18C doesn’t apply (things like “it’s a statement of an opinion” or “no, actually these are the facts I have to hand which proves my statement which offended someone is accurate” or “this was cultural critique/analysis in an academic setting” or similar).
Scott Morrison and his “taxed and taxed-nots” – note that he carefully tries to throw the whole burden of “not paying taxes” on people on welfare, rather than on the multi-millionaires who are willing to pay an accountant to get their taxable income below the tax-free threshold, or on the multi-nationals and corporations which don’t pay a cent of tax in Australia because they’re busy shuffling profits around the globe for the greater benefit of their tax bill. Nope, all the fault of the unemployed (who are, in fact, a minority of welfare recipients – the biggest chunk of welfare goes to aged pensioners).
The Liberals trying to sneak in reductions to the rate of Newstart paid to people who are in psychiatric hospitals in their “omnibus” bill. As though being hospitalised reduces your rent or something, rather than adding the costs of hospitalisation on top of your existing financial circumstances. Are they trying to increase the suicide rate, or will that just be an unexpected consequence?
It’s too early for popcorn, but imagine me with a ginormous virtual bucket of it while watching the fallout from last night’s devastating demonstration of pure parliamentary procedure on the floor of the House. Karma with bells on for ScoMo after his morning hectoring the Opposition to accept that they lost the election to then sit seething through such a thorough exposure of how the LNP’s much-smuggeried majority disappears in smoke if even one LNP MP isn’t sitting on their bench.
Pyne’s attempts to deflect the importance of this first-time-since-1962 shemozzle by talking up how many floor votes the minority Gillard government lost is a valiant effort that will probably have more success than it deserves given how few people bother to learn that much about how parliament works. He’s twitching even more than usual while delivering the lines though.
On a side note regarding how little most folks bother to learn about the normal operations of Parliament, the number of folks complaining about this week’s session winding up on a Thursday with various iterations of “why can’t these bastards even work a full bloody week?” reminds me forcefully of the ignorant diatribes against lazy teachers from people who only count face-to-face classroom hours and ignore the hours of background work that goes into being prepared for the classroom hours. I imagine it’s exactly the same people in many cases, and when it comes to their MPs they are probably complaining about why they have such limited local office hours less than a week after complaining about them not spending a full week sitting in Parliament.
Finally, on a more positive note: some wonderful maiden speeches from new parliamentarians in this very first week, notably Linda Burney, Tim Wilson* and Senator Pat Dodson.
Is this part of the new media-driven politics though? A feeling that the first speech ought to happen so quickly? Used to be that it commonly took a newbie MP some months (in the UK, sometimes years (especially in the Lords)) to get up and make their first speech in the House.
The 3 names above are seasoned public faces with a great deal of speechifying experience, so I can see why they took the opportunity to jump on the guaranteed press coverage for folks with strong name-recognition points during the opening week of the 45th parliament, but a bunch of people with far lower public profiles also made their maiden speeches in this first week, and I wonder why when it should have been fairly clear that they would be overshadowed rather than boosted by the busyness of the week.
*. I was very much not a fan of many aspects Tim Wilson’s work in his previous role as Human Rights Commissioner, and I give his statements supporting the plebiscite from this past Monday some serious brow-raise, but this was nonetheless a powerful speech making the Yes case for marriage equality.
Is it possible that Labor has acquired some effective strategists? The Coalition looks set to lose any vote they don’t prepare for with absolute discipline. Here’s to further humiliations for the ruling party!
The LNP had a much greater majority (though not nearly so large as they would have preferred) in the 44th Parliament; these Opposition tactics are only really possible when the Government majority is so very super wafer thin. [ETA: but yes, here’s to many more!]
Looks like Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal party are learning why “may you live in interesting times” and “may you get what you asked for” are considered curses. The third curse in that set, “may you come to the attention of the powerful”, is probably going to take a little longer to become comprehensible, until they realise the Opposition essentially has power in these circumstances, and will be making damn certain that any time the Liberals don’t have a full contingent in the house, they’re going to regret it.
One seat is not a “working majority” – it’s a majority under threat from a loo break.
So it looks like the parliamentary motto for this parliament is going to be “it’s not over till it’s over”. Should be fun for the rest of us to watch, for at least the first few weeks, anyway.
I heard this morning on Insiders that those absent from the Chamber had not sought permission from the Whip to leave. So they are in deep trouble. Also some of those cross benchers who had guaranteed supply and confidence to the Govt, Cathy McGowan was mentioned, were also absent from the chamber. So everyone in Parliament will have to work a lot harder on their negotiations with other parties and cross benchers. It will certainly be interesting times.