The flag at Parliament House, Canberra at half mast to honour the memorial for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
It's about time we signed off for the day.
Tony Abbott is putting on Christmas drinks for the press gallery this evening.
Never mind that he's in South Africa, they are still going ahead.
So what have we learned on this parliamentary Tuesday?
- Warren Truss as acting PM is not just decorative. He writes letters to business chiefs demanding immediate clarifications;
- Abbott doesn't only have competition in the correspondence stakes. His frontbench have him on notice over photo opps with oversized vehicles (ping Michael Keenan);
- Childcare workers wages are simultaneously a union slush fund issue and a Coalition broken promise;
- The Nats had nothing to do with Sophie Mirabella losing in Indi, really they didn't; and
- Christmas is coming early. MYEFO will be handed down next Tuesday.
Stay tuned to Fairfax Media for more reaction on Greg Hunt's Barrier Reef decision. And for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela (expected around 8pm AEST).
As we leave tonight, the Senate is also debating the abolition of the Climate Change Authority.
As predicted, the Greens are not keen on Hunt's decision this afternoon.
Queensland senator Larissa Waters has just called the announcement "criminal".
"The Abbott Government has sacrificed the climate and the Great Barrier Reef for overseas mining companies with its approval today of the world's largest coal port and another [coal seam gas] plant in our Great Barrier Reef", the Greens environment spokesman said in a statement.
Waters also questions whether the decision will put the reef on the World Heritage "in danger" list.
Watch out for debate on this in the Senate tomorrow morning.
While on a green theme, in breaking environmental news, Hunt has approved coal and gas projects at Abbot Point and Curtis Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
He says that he has made a "rigorous assessment" in the process.
But something tells me the Greens will not be pleased about the decision.
You may recall that this morning Greg Hunt continued his dance that parliament might sit over the holidays to get the carbon tax repealed.
(See: 11.28am post)
Greens Leader Christine Milne says it doesn't matter what the day is, her party still isn't going to support the repeal of a price on carbon.
"Our vote won't change," she has told ABC 24.
In the Senate this afternoon, Milne successfully referred the Coalition's Direct Action Plan to an Environment Committee for further scrutiny.
The Greens Leader says this will expose the policy as a "ploy to distract Australians from the government's refusal to take the advice of experts".
People smugglers are telling asylum seekers that bad diplomatic relations between Australia and Indonesia mean that the boat route to Christmas Island is open again.
"'Nowadays it is a safe time to go to Australia because my country and Australia have a bad diplomatic relationship,' one smuggler's agent in the West Java town of Cisarua told a potential client."
A real sense of torch passing in the House this afternoon.
Angus Taylor, the new member for the NSW seat of Hume has just given his maiden speech.
He thanks his predecessor Alby Schultz, who retired in 2013, with some serious health issues.
Schultz is in the public gallery to hear Taylor speak.
Taylor, a Rhodes scholar, has a farming and business background.
"Some people say politics is about power," he told the House.
"I don't agree. It should be about leadership, service."
Liberal MP Angus Taylor delivered his maiden speech on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Now speaking of people doing stuff for their country, PJ Keating is coming to Canberra on Thursday.
He will attend a special caucus meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of the floating of the dollar.
Labor MPs are already getting giddy about the selfie potential (yes, Tim Watts, we are talking about you).
He's coming back... To Caucus! The Great PJK will address a special meeting of caucus this Thursday to… http://t.co/3StsXqRAgJ— Tim Watts (@TimWattsMP) December 10, 2013
For a look at the acting Prime Ministerial autograph (and what the government wants from Holden), here is a copy of Warren Truss's letter to Mike Devereux.
It is punchy stuff.
"An immediate clarification of GM Holden's future plans is needed to end the uncertainty for Holden's workforce, its suppliers and the people of Australia."
World leaders are arriving for Mandela's service in Johannesburg.
President Obama, Bush, First Ladies arriving in Johannesburg to attend memorial service for the late Nelson Mandela. pic.twitter.com/12GXVEoEGY— Stephen Crowley (@Stcrow) December 10, 2013
Liberal MP and former high school science teacher Ann Sudmalis is giving her maiden speech.
Sudmalis succeeds Joanna Gash (who retired at the election to pursue a local politics career) in the NSW seat of Gilmore.
She starts with a famous quote:
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
But she notes that this is often too broad for people to translate into real life.
The question is better framed as: "what can I do for my community?"
"I'm tired of this 'I', 'me' and 'my' dominating the media and sinking in to the mindset of our children and our youth," she says.
Fun fact: after school teaching, Sudmalis had a small family business making fudge ("Gran's Fudge").
She also worked for Gash for five years, who is the public gallery this afternoon.
Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis delivering her maiden speech on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Meanwhile, over in South Africa, preparations continue for Mandela's memorial service.
Bronwyn Bishop announced at the start of QT that she has arranged a condolence book for Lower House MPs to sign today. Senators can sign it tomorrow.
As we emerge from question time, chief political correspondent Mark Kenny has some piping hot analysis on Holden.
"Right now it's shadow boxing all round," Mark writes.
"A muscular discourse of hard-nosed market rationalism has led to a stream of signals out of Canberra that after decares of taxpayer support the jig is finally up ..."
In the House right now a (Labor initiated) matter of public importance is being debated.
The subject is car mobiles.
Employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor framed the debate thus: "The implications for Australian jobs of the government cutting $500 million to automotive industry assistance."
No wonder Madam Speaker looks so amused. Not.
Madam Speaker Bronwyn Bishop during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
And Jamie Briggs was pinged for too much concentration.
Jamie Briggs listens to a question during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Mark Dreyfus executed a decent "Oh, c'mon", while Chris Bowen looked on in a state of great excitement.
Mark Dreyfus, Tony Burke and Chris Bowen during question. Photo: Andrew Meares
Wayne Swan gave his old foe a free hand for the budget.
Member for Lilley Wayne Swan during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Joe Hockey constructed an argument about debt through song.
Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke made some important procedural points of order from the comfort of the frontbench.
Manger of Opposition Tony Burke during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
No one was kicked out during that session.
Tuesday can be such a low-energy, bummer of a day.
There were some creditable efforts, however.
Nick Champion not getting kicked out during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Or here, thanks very much.
Kate Ellis shadow minister for early childhood listens to Assistant Minister Sussan Ley during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
No puppets here.
Speaker Bronwyn Bishop speaks with Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
During another Ley dixer on childcare, Tony Burke takes issue with the way she refers to Kate Ellis.
"There were some reflections on a member of parliament that should be withdrawn," he argues.
Bronwyn Bishop is not so sure.
"If you're thinking that the term 'puppet of the union movement' is a reflection, then that is a matter you have decided."
"However, to assist the House I would ask the minister to withdraw."
Hey mate, is it just me, or do you think Joe is actually getting more attention today?
Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss and Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
There's a subtext here.
Liberal MP Peter Hendy has asked Christopher Pyne about the progress of the Fair Work Registered Organisation's Amendment Bill (which would impose tougher sanctions on union bosses who do the wrong thing).
Pyne says some people on the Labor side recognise that stealing from low-paid workers is not a good idea.
But the HSU and Craig Thomson of course are noted.
And I just wonder if there is another (Bruce Wilsonesque) angle in there as well.
The government is on the front foot on childcare workers' pay and the Early Years Quality Fund.
Sussan Ley is asked a question (from her own side) about the matter.
She launches into a boisterous spiel about "Labor's flawed fund" that looked after their "union mates".
(Yep, "slush fund" gets a mention too.)
"This was never about the children," Ley concludes.
"Shame, Labor, shame!"
Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley. Conducting music or answering a question. You decide. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
I have a free hand here, but it is for pointing, not for ending waste and fixing the debt.
Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Hockey hollers: "When I reveal the mid-year budget numbers next Tuesday, no matter how bad they are ... give the Coalition a free hand to fix the budget!"
It's a date.
The Treasurer announces that he will release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook next Tuesday at the Press Club.
This is in response to a dixer from WA MP Ian Goodenough.
What can we read into this?
I reckon it's a sign that the government thinks MYEFO will be ... Methodicalenough.
Joe Hockey has just referred to Kim Carr as Kim Il Carr in a dixer on the government's "savings task".
"Well, he is a socialist, we all know that."
Barnaby Joyce has gone an impressive shade of fuchsia (even for him).
He has been responding to a dixer about dairy farmers in central Queensland and the carbon tax.
"Stand up for working families and get rid of the carbon tax!"
(And someone get me an ice pack!)
South Australian MP Nick Champion has asked a question on cars to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
Isn't it the case that the Coalition's $500 million cut to auto assistance (i.e. not providing the $500 million that Labor pledged) will make the industry unsustainable?
It is wise that Champion has asked his question early, given his tendency to be kicked out.
In response, Macfarlane notes that he likes a "measured, purposeful" approach.
(Somebody should tell the minister, it's OK, the PM is in South Africa - he doesn't have to refer to methodical government all the time.)
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Joe Hockey is in demand today.
He gets the crossbench question too.
Greens MP Adam Bandt asks him, is it not the wrong time to make harsh cuts in the mid-year budget update next week?
Amid much guffawing from Labor, Hockey fixes an amused eye on Chris Bowen.
"Listen mate, you were the one who went up to the altar with him."
Poor Greens! It's like people want their votes in parliament but don't actually want to be friends.
The Future Killers.
Sounds like the name of some groovy underground New York band.
Bowen to Hockey:
Isn't the government leaving the auto industry with no future at all?
"No. No," Hockey declares, booming into the mic.
"The only future killers in this building are the Labor Party."
Truss returns. A dixer about a Peabody mine closing in Queensland has summoned him to the despatch box.
"The reality is, the carbon tax destroys jobs," he says.
There is a show of hands in the parliament.
Joe Hockey is asking how many MPs have worked in the private sector.
He is making a point about the Coalition's economic know-how.
This comes after Plibersek asked him about government support to Holden and the return on investment.
"I was looking at the [opposition] frontbench yesterday and I was wondering who has ever worked in the private sector in the Labor Party" Hockey shoots back.
"Sorry, two people have. Oh three, Joel, come on. Come on Joel. Don't embellish it."
According to Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon's parliamentary profile, he has worked as a small business operator.
Treasurer Joe Hockey asks who has worked in the private sector from the Coalition. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The first dixer is to Warren Truss.
Will he update the House on progress the government is making to provide certainty to workers in the auto industry?
"I know there is considerable anxiety," about this, Truss observes.
He mentions that the Coalition has legislation to get rid of the carbon tax.
And that he has written to Mike Devereux, asking him to make an immediate statement clarifying Holden's intentions in Australia.
"Let us not go into the Christmas period without them making a clear statement."
He is not just an acting PM, he is a writing one as well.
Acting man on a mission. Warren Truss arrives for question time on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The primo question of QT is a foreign affairs-off.
Tanya Plibersek asks Julie Bishop about her recent trip to China.
And reports that China is unhappy about Bishop's comments on the East China Sea.
Will the minister update the House on the relationship with China?
"We are not afraid to stand up for our values and our interests," Bishop shoots back.
(Aka: we don't have to agree with the Chinese on everything.)
Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and Foreign minister Julie Bishop during question time on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard reported this morning that three would-be asylum seekers - including a toddler - were killed off the coast of Java on Monday, when their boat sank.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has addressed the House on the sinking.
He said 30 people were rescued and that the Australian Embassy in Jakarta had only been advised of two deaths.
Indonesian authorities did not ask Australia for help. Nor did anyone on the boat.
Morrison said the sinking again highlighted the dangers of people smuggling, especially "at this most dangerous time of year".
Australian officials are seeking more information.
As we round the corner to question time, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is up on childcare workers' wages.
"The announcement today is just chaos."
"The crude reality is that some of the people who are working and caring [for] ... our children in childcare centres get paid less than the people who clean them."
Tony Abbott has received some fighting advice about the auto industry from within his own party.
Victorian Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett has spoken to Fairfax Media's Breaking Politics.
He wants Commonwealth assistance to continue.
The Victorian government will continue to "lobby as hard as [it] possibly can".
Holden's departure would 'devastate' Victoria
Victorian Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett says that the Victorian government will 'leave no stone unturned' in lobbying the federal government to keep Holden in Australia.PT8M23S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2z2tg 620 349 December 10, 2013
Mitchell is asked if the Nats conspired to oust Sophie Mirabella in Indi.
For the record:
"I'm personally very sorry that Sophie Mirabella lost ... We did everything we possibly could to support Sophie."
Scott Mitchell at the National Press Club on Tuesday. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
Mitchell laments that the Nats were not able to hang on to the seat of O'Connor in WA.
The Liberal Party's Rick Wilson won here, not the Nat's Chub Witham.
"It is disappointing," Mitchell says of the result, before noting that (2010 winner) Tony Crook only went one term.
What does Mitchell think specifically of PUP?
"There's always going to be a protest vote out there ... This time, Palmer threw an enormous amount of money at it.
Our challenge ... is to convince [voters] them at the next election we have done a good job in government."
And Katter's Australian Party?
"Nothing more than a distraction [and] an ego trip for Bob."
National Party federal director Scott Mitchell is speaking at the National Press Club.
His speech talked up the "calm" in the Coalition's "seamless" campaign, while highlighting Labor's as "off the rails".
He has also spoken dismissively of PUP and Bob Katter.
And had a go at Bill Shorten - telling him to "look in the mirror and have a look at the real face of irresponsibility".
But Mitchell has nice things to say about Nationals leader (and acting PM) Warren Truss: a man of "deep integrity and great intellect".
"He's not a man to seek publicilty. He doesn’t tweet his every move."
Federal Director of the National Party, Scott Mitchell, speaking at the National Press Club. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
If you haven't had enough of voting this year, how about voting in our poll:
Should childcare providers return to the government the money given to them to improve wages?
There has been some huffing over the fact that the Parliament House flag was not lowered last week when the world learnt that Nelson Mandela had died.
As Ben Westcott and Tom McIlroy report, the hashtag #lowertheflag was used more than 9,500 times on Friday.
Perhaps that is why, all the way from South Africa, Tony Abbott is now making sure people know that the flag is at half-mast today.
The Parliament House flag is at half mast as a mark of respect for Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/LyKcIKekws— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) December 10, 2013
Kate Ellis has spoken on Sussan Ley's childcare wages decision (see: 10.30am and 12.00pm posts).
She is working up some outrage with "another example of ... broken promises from this out of control government."
This announcement is "incredibly cruel".
"This is a shambles."
Kate Ellis Shadow Minister for Early Childhood in Canberra Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Labor has wound up its weekly caucus meeting.
Dan Harrison tells me that there is news there on pokies reforms.
Labor will support the Coalition's moves to repeal poker machine reforms, introduced by the Gillard government in late 2012.
Despite the fact that these reforms - which created a national gambling regulator amd introduced a cap on ATM withdrawals in gaming venues - were slammed as too weak by independent Andrew Wilkie, anti-gambling campaigners have been urging Labor to defend them.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has said the Coalition government wants to take a new approach to problem gambling, that would reduce bureaucracy.
The reforms have already passed the lower house but there was uncertainty about what Labor would do in the Senate.
Nick Xenophon has just commented on Labor's news in a press conference in the Mural Hall at parliament house.
"Can I just say, shame on the ALP and shame on the Coalition for repealing even minimalist reforms."
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and DLP Senator John Madigan at parliament house on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Back on childcare workers' wage rises, Jonathan Swan has the story on Sussan Ley's announcement here.
We are waiting for Labor's Kate Ellis to respond shortly, but the early spin from the government is going for the jugular.
"Ley slams Ellis over childcare union 'slush fund'" the media release from Ley's office says.
I suppose "Ley contradicts Abbott and takes money away from little kids" doesn't work quite as well.
Keenan has been launching the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.
The BNHCRC was announced in February by the then Gillard government and established on July 1 (by which time Rudd was in power).
Success has many parents.
An RFS helicopter takes off from out the front of Parliament House on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Get a load of this, Tony.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan takes a look in the cockpit of a RFS helicopter at the front of Parliament House on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
PM Tony Abbott is no stranger to a photo-opp with a truck.
But it would appear that he has some serious competition from his Justice Minister, Michael Keenan.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gets into the driver's seat of a truck during his visit to Linfox depot in West Melbourne on 16 August 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
There isn't enough hat throwing thesedays.
Royal Military College graduates fall out after the Graduation Parade at RMC Duntroon in Canberra on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Over the lake and down the road from Parliament House, Royal Military College - Duntroon is ensconced in graduation activities.
This morning, RMC graduates had their graduation parade.
Also today, a commissioning service, lunch and ball are on the menu.
Royal Military College graduates fall out after the Graduation Parade at RMC Duntroon in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has also been on the doors this morning, attacking Labor's approach to the carbon tax repeal debate.
"The opposition of Australia now has a policy of go slow, go home and watch the cricket," he argues.
"The Australian people expect the Senate to turn up to work."
Hunt is calling on Labor to "commit" to staying in parliament until the carbon tax legislation is voted upon.
"We don't care whether we sit Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day".
Really? I mean, REALLY?
The Senate does not sit until 12.30 today.
But there is some government angst about the time it is taking to get through the carbon tax repeal debate.
You may recall that there was consternation last week after Labor and the Greens combined forces to ensure that the 11 repeal bills would be split - so things like the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority would be considered separately.
Now, a long list of opposition senators has been speaking in the debate. The Coalition is calling this filibustering.
It does not actively assist Tony Abbott's preference that the Senate acts on the tax before the Christmas break.
Nationals senator John "Wacka" Williams has told Breaking Politics that the government will try to extend the Senate's sittings to deal with the repeal bills.
For how long?
"Till we get the bills passed" (i.e. this could include the weekend).
Lucky then for Senate staff that the government does not have the numbers in the upper house.
Wacka conceded as much himself.
"We'll be moving that way tomorrow to extend sittings on Thursday night. I wouldn't be putting my house on it that we'll be successful ...
I don't think we'll be able to extend the Senate because we don't control the numbers there," he said.
It may not be a searing insight it is accurate, nonetheless.
In other news this morning, there is more dud polling for the Abbott government.
After the Fairfax Nielsen poll recorded a 52-48 per cent lead to Labor last month, Newspoll has recorded an equally unhappy result.
Today, the two-party-preferred stakes have Labor ahead of the Coalition, 52 to 48 per cent.
Is this disappointing?
"Not at all" according to qualified personal trainer and Queensland Coalition MP, Andrew Laming.
"I think we're years away from an election. So it's way more important that you get on with your job, your agenda," he told reporters at the Reps doors.
As Sunday political correspondent Bianca Hall reported at the weekend, there has been a fair whack of confusion engulfing the childcare sector of late.
Labor had set aside $300 million in the budget to boost the wages of 30,000 childcare workers. This increase was frozen by the Coalition.
When the Abbott government took power, Sussan Ley commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to do a report on the wage increases.
''I commissioned this independent report because a huge cloud was hanging over this flawed and inequitable Labor fund, including serious claims it was a front for an aggressive union membership drive,'' she said.
Ley had been promising to outline the government's response to the report for weeks, but it is understood the PM's parliamentary announcement on Thursday took her by surprise.
The previous Labor government had signed 15 contracts, including one for Goodstart Early Learning, which has 641 centres.
Is this another broken promise?
Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley has just held a press conference in the Blue Room at Parliament House.
She has been speaking about a review into Labor's "controversial" Early Years Quality Fund (aimed at boosting the wages of childcare workers).
In breaking news:
The Abbott government is now asking childcare providers to "do the right thing" and hand back $62.5 million given to them for wage rises in contracts signed with the previous government.
In question time on Thursday, when asked about the Quality Fund, Tony Abbott said that the government would "absolutely" honour all contracts that had been entered into.
(More to come)
Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley during question time on November 18 . Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Labor's Louise Pratt was asked about the Y2K comment on Fairfax Media's Breaking Politics program this morn.
"Yeah, well this is why the Coalition doesn't have a real climate change policy. And that's because so many of them don't actually believe that climate change is real," she said.
Today the carbon tax repeal debate continues in the Senate.
Coalition senator Ian Macdonald has been on the radio to reaffirm his musings on the issue.
"Christine Milne and the Labor senators are telling us that all the floods and all the cyclones we have in Queensland will stop if we go ahead with the world's greatest carbon tax ... it is just an absolute fraud on the Australian public," he said.
Australia is such a "small player" in terms of emissions globally, the senator argued.
"If we reduce our emissions by five per cent, it's going to fix all the problems of the world? In years to come people will look back and just laugh at us."
"I think its called a reductio ad absurdum," News Radio presenter Marius Benson noted.
Undeterred, Macdonald then made a comparison with "Y2K days".
People now look back on dire predictions about fridges stopping and planes falling out of the sky on January 1, 2000 and say: "What was that all about?"
The same will happen with the carbon tax, he argued.
Such a "small player." Senator Ian Macdonald speaks in the Senate on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Leaving that view, how are Holden workers feeling?
Union boss Dave Smith told Radio National this morning they are "stressed out to the max at the moment".
Half-mast for Mandela.
(And a beautiful day in Canberra, for what it's worth.)
Andrew Meares has captured this one from Mount Pleasant, just behind the Royal Military College at Duntroon.
The flag at Parliament House, Canberra flies at half mast to honour the memorial for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Greens MP Adam Bandt hinted that recession may be on the cards if Holden "goes under".
He told reporters that his party wanted to see more bikes and electric cars made in Australia, but said the country also needed a "genuine manufacturing base".
He said previous governments had not done enough to shift car manufacturing to a more sustainable footing.
The future of Holden must be secured through government support, but with "strings attached".
On the House of Reps doors this morning, the parliamentary chatter on Holden continued.
The Coalition's Steve Ciobo said the government would "welcome" the car company "clarifying" its intent in Australia.
"We're doing all that we could reasonably do," to ensure the future of the car industry, Ciobo notes.
There are "strong headwinds" facing the car industry.
In his farewell column, Tim also notes in a PS that it is the last of 10,000 articles (!) he has written for The Age since 1971.
"It has been a wonderful career for me, and, I hope, worthwhile for you ...
''Fairfax now has the motto: Independent. Always. My motto is that I don't care who runs the country, but I care passionately about how it's run. Our job is to sort the truth from the spin, to help readers through the complexity of issues.
''It's a great cause. Long may The Age and Fairfax pursue it. Thanks for having me."
All the very, very best from the Canberra bureau, Tim.
In his last column for The Age, the great Tim Colebatch writes that regardless of the Productivity Commission report, Tony Abbott has made his decision (and has ruled out extra money for the car industry).
"Holden knows it, has decided to leave, but for its own reasons, won't tell us yet."
He adds that the main reason the car industry is in trouble is the high Australian dollar.
"Australia's currency has risen more than that of any other developed country."
Tim argues that while the case for ending government support to the car industry after 2016 is compelling, Abbott and Joe Hockey should think again.
"This mistake could be a whopper."
The stakes are super high when it comes to Holden.
As Mark Kenny and Mark Hawthorne report, if Holden pulls the plug, Toyota is likely to follow suit because component suppliers for both companies would become unviable.
It could also send the SA and Victorian economies - where about 50,000 jobs reply on the auto industry - into something resembling recession.
The Productivity Commission is due to make an interim report on car assistance before Christmas and issue a final document in the first quarter of 2014.
We begin the day with our southern cousins in Victoria.
Holden honcho Mike Devereux is currently appearing before the Productivity Commission inquiry into taxpayer funding for the Australian car industry.
Amid ongoing concern about the future of Holden - and car manufacturing more broadly - in Australia, Devereux has said that no decision has been made yet on Holden in Oz.
As Toby Hagen and Clay Lucas report, he has rejected speculation that the company has already decided to leave Australia.
It's a nail-biter.
What exactly is the deal with Holden?
Government support does not appear imminent as Holden boss Mike Devereux fronts the Productivity Commission in Melbourne, this morning.
Back in Canberra, the carbon tax repeal debate continues in the Senate as news comes of another boat tragedy en route to Christmas Island.
The PM and Bill Shorten are in South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial service (due about 8pm AEST).
And at lunchtime, the federal director of the National Party, Scott Mitchell, will address the National Press Club about the 2013 election.
Welcome to Tuesday at Parliament House.