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Greg Hunt's Christmas sitting an ill-fated pursuit

SKETCH

Environment Minister Greg Hunt often wears about him the haunted look of a boy who might have been bullied at school.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt often wears about him the haunted look of a boy who might have been bullied at school. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Greg Hunt, the minister responsible for carbon emissions, often wears about him the haunted look of a boy who might have been bullied at school and is over keen to take it out on a cruel world.

Whatever it is, he's overdoing it.

"We don't care whether we sit Christmas Day, Boxing Day [or] New Year's Day," he declared on Tuesday.

Mr Hunt, of course, so regularly taunted himself by unfeeling opposition MPs, was trying to turn the tables, accusing them of being unwilling to face up to the business of debating and repealing their carbon tax.

"The opposition of Australia now has a policy of go slow, go home and watch the cricket," he jeered on Tuesday.

"The Australian people expect the Senate to turn up to work."

On Christmas Day?

Mr Hunt might be advised to meditate on the knowledge that the last time a Westminster-style parliament sat on Christmas Day was in 1656. It didn't end well.

Oliver Cromwell - the thin-lipped Puritan who had very likely been bullied at school himself before assuming the grand title of First Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland - demanded that his Protectorate Parliament spend Christmas Day 1656 discussing a bill to outlaw Christmas Day celebrations.

Cromwell wasn't forgiven. After being buried in 1658, Cromwell's corpse was dug up, hung in chains and had its head removed.

Hunt might well risk something similar from the families of his colleagues if the Parliament were, indeed, to be forced to sit through Christmas.

Good lord. All those beach houses and flights and Christmas hampers already booked!

He is, of course, deluding himself. The Senate not only has the numbers to continue frustrating his desire to repeal the carbon tax, but to vote down any attempt to harness them to their chamber during Christmas.

Delusion is going around.

The Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, offered a soaring example of bidding adieu to reality when she said on Monday she hoped childcare operators would "do the right thing" and hand back to the government $62.5 million they had been given under legal contract to improve the wages of their workers.

The childcare operators to date have been polite enough not to respond that some parliamentarians - including Ms Ley's own Prime Minister - haven't felt it was the right thing to pay back "entitlements" used to attend such events as weddings and iron man competitions.

Ms Ley was quite outdone, however, by the acting Prime Minister, Warren Truss, when he wrote to Holden demanding that it declare "its future intentions and explain what its plans are for its Australian manufacturing operations".

Hang on. Isn't the government running a Productivity Commission inquiry into the entire car manufacturing industry to determine its own attitude to the business, upon which Holden's future might rest? And didn't Holden chief Mike Devereux tell the commission on Tuesday the company had made no decision on its future in Australia and that it had put its business case to the government?

When there is such a determined cry from parliamentarians for the suspension of disbelief, surely a Christmas holiday can't come fast enough.

* Some readers of the Sketch have communicated alarm that Prime Minister Tony Abbott's chief of staff, Peta Credlin, appeared to be sitting in the parliamentarians' benches in pictures published on Tuesday. It was an optical illusion. She was safely inhabiting the advisers' box.

11 comments

  • Our Parliamentary representatives want to be home for Christmas.
    Bah! Humbug!
    A Canberra Yuletide is just too terrible to contemplate.
    Bah! Humbug!
    Christmas should be a time to relax and enjoy being with the family.
    Bah! Humbug!
    They expect sympathy from me.
    Bah! Humbug!

    Commenter
    Howe Synnott
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 11, 2013, 6:58AM
    • There is no mention about Cromwell's Christmas sitting on Wikipedia so how could Greg Hunt have known about that then? And because it isn't on Wikipedia it probably never happened anyway. What do you people do for fact checking? Read books or something? Or call the ABC maybe.
      And you lot just be warned, Greg Hunt still has a lot of anger to dish out over Australia for being kept in opposition for all those years. And he will make sure his hoof print will remain indelible on the Australian landscape, the Great Barrier Reef approvals are only just the beginning.
      And he will make sure Wikipedia knows about it too!

      Commenter
      Roderick
      Location
      Hunters Hill
      Date and time
      December 11, 2013, 7:25AM
      • This government appears to be descending to depths even lower than many of us expected it was possible to go, at an extraordinary pace. You have to go back a long way to find an example of applied cupidity and dissimulation of comparable proportions. I'd be surprised if this lot lasted one term!!

        It would be over-generous to suggest that this is a deliberate strategy to get all the nastiness out of the way early in the Parliamentary term, as there are many of the things they have started which cannot be finished until after, and if, they gain control of the Senate in July next. Given their rapid collapse in the polls, the likelihood of that control being unattainable has substantially increased. I cannot believe they are sooooo stupid as not to have figured that out!!!!!

        Commenter
        Lesm
        Location
        Balmain
        Date and time
        December 11, 2013, 7:51AM
        • All desperate measures from Uncle Scrooge and his one term party, all their doing is impressing themselves, A long 3 years

          Commenter
          3rdEye
          Location
          blue mountains
          Date and time
          December 11, 2013, 8:10AM
          • Just when you thought this Govt. couldn't dig a deeper hole to bury themselves, Enter Greg Hunt with two excavators.

            Commenter
            Mike 1
            Date and time
            December 11, 2013, 8:59AM
            • The LNP are increasingly looking like a fish out of water.

              Despite the bluster of Hunt, Pyne and Morrison - with the state LNP governments in WA, QLD, VIC and NSW setting the standard of moronic administration- the LNP feds must be feeling the end of the year can't come soon enough!

              Commenter
              lsco3453
              Location
              stark reality
              Date and time
              December 11, 2013, 10:24AM
              • What a farce - Abbott trashed parliament for 3 years and the task continues. The trigger always seems to be the " childish Pyne" who was seemly bullied at school. Who would have believed that this has been the sum total of 85 days of absolutely nothing - no legislation commenced, a lot of wrecking of Labor's Legacy- but they cannot even do that properly without bullying and threat. The callous approach by Lee on the lowly paid "early child education workers" is bizarre and like Cromwell in a cancellation of Christmas for many - Scrooge would be more appropriate a name for Minister Lee or is this another backflip in the making. What a mess- perhaps the Coalition should spend Christmas having " professional development" of their own.and not be " governed" by Peta Credlin who seems to be running the agenda. We were led to believe in adult behaviour, the keeping of promises, no deals, transparent government not one run by " the faceless". What have we got, a nasty bullying kinder garden of broken promises, backflips with pike, secrecy and a political agenda rum by the faceless and unelected IPA - "woe is the winter of our discontent" and we have to put up with this rubbish as the economy flounders. Lets hope that Hunt does trigger a DD so that we can have a clean sweep of these " self serving clowns" that are our current elected (so called) parliamentary representatives.

                Commenter
                llawenydd
                Location
                Adelaide
                Date and time
                December 11, 2013, 11:25AM
                • "We were led to believe in adult behaviour, the keeping of promises, no deals, transparent government not one run by " the faceless". No llawenydd - SOME of you were led to believe this. Anyone who had observed Abbott and co. for more than 5 minutes should/would have known that nothing of the sort would happen. Those of us who dreaded this government have been vindicated - so far.

                  It was all so predictable. And so it has come to pass.

                  Commenter
                  Jennome
                  Location
                  Vic
                  Date and time
                  December 11, 2013, 4:06PM
              • A cabinet reshuffle over Christmas instead?

                Instead of stuffing the pig, Abbott should get rid of The Terribly Important Hunt, Alan Jones' political lovechild, Pyne, and the Kindly Christian Sussan Ley. That would be a Xmas present for the Liberal Party.

                Commenter
                Paul
                Date and time
                December 11, 2013, 11:57AM
                • He usually has the look of Wallace haunted by Grommit...

                  Commenter
                  Kevin Barry
                  Date and time
                  December 11, 2013, 1:09PM

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