Greens claim debt victory
The Greens have agreed to abolish the debt ceiling, but have extracted concessions from the government in return. Nine news.PT1M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2yqsj 620 349 December 4, 2013
- Federal politics: full coverage
- Politics Live: Judith Ireland from Parliament
- Hockey gets help from Greens over debt
There are days within the hall of mirrors that is Parliament House when the view becomes so distorted it is positively hallucinogenic. Wednesday was one of them.
It wasn't simply that Clive Palmer kept demanding watertight guarantees of Prime Minister Tony Abbott that his parliamentary phone wasn't bugged, nor his claim that his personal phone had been continuously tapped since the 1990s. Everyone in the hall of mirrors expects to grow accustomed to Mr Palmer's more entertaining excursions into paranoia.
It was, however, close to mind-blowing that the Greens, dismissed so recently by the Coalition as economic fringe dwellers, suddenly found themselves within the substantial proud-dad embrace of Treasurer Joe Hockey.
''It's the Labor Party that are the economic fringe dwellers,'' the Treasurer declared, edging to a cosy agreement with the previously unmentionable Greens to remove altogether the limit on the government's credit card.
''The Greens have come over.''
If this wasn't enough to loosen one's grasp on reality, an international report card on the nation's educational standards - appalling, essentially - was grabbed by both the government and the opposition to support their diametrically opposed arguments.
Indeed, Education Minister Christopher Pyne used the findings to buttress two quite separate - and antithetical - arguments of his own. He laid into the Labor Party for spending too much on education over recent years and thundered that the latest findings were ''a serious wake-up call for the Australian education system but, more importantly, they tell us one fundamental thing - money is not the answer''.
Simultaneously, he was courting praise for his own decision to spend even more than Labor was planning on the education system over the next four years.
''Can I just point out,'' he demanded, ''that Labor's contribution to Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory was zero over the next four years … We are putting in $1.2 billion, which is a hell of a lot better than the zero Labor was planning.''
Quite. So Labor spent too much, but wasn't going to spend enough; money wasn't the answer, so the government was going to spend a whole lot more.
It was as if Mr Pyne had invented a previously unknown equation; one akin to the mathematical puzzle that holds that if a fellow had one foot in a deep freeze and the other on a hot stove, he would, on average, be comfortable.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used the OECD's shocking report card to argue it was time for the Coalition government to implement Labor's Gonski school reforms ''in full''. He deftly avoided mentioning the plunge in educational standards had occurred during Labor's Education Revolution. Instead, he insisted Labor had done its homework in undertaking the Gonski review, which would, if executed properly, make everything all right.
Further out in la la land, Clive Palmer, having received an assurance from the Prime Minister that parliamentary phones weren't bugged without a warrant, continued his campaign by calling a press conference on the subject. His mobile phone rang as he was addressing journalists.
''I'll have to call you back on a sterile phone,'' he told whoever was calling. Hallucinogenic.