Federal Politics

Politics Live: June 18, 2014

The ball kicks off in just over an hour (*cue: flappy hand movements*).

So it's time we made preparations for that.

But before we do, what did we learn today?

 

That's it for third time dad Alex Ellinghausen, Andrew Meares and I. 

Many thanks for tuning in.

Until tomorrow!

The bidding has now closed for the Mid Winter Ball charity dinners.

Tony Abbott has remained in the top spot, with $15100.

He is followed by Julie Bishop and the Turnbulls with $10600 and then Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek on $3950.

(For that much money, the conversation better be scintillating!)

Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston, who has been a Senator for WA since 1996 is now giving his valedictory.

He can't believe the time has come to say goodbye.

To watch his speech live, we recommend you go to the APH website.

 

Sue Boyce explains that she did not seek a second term as senator because she wants to spend more time with her family.

She notes that a 2012 diagnosis of emphysema has been a big factor.

"I want to [have the family time] now."

Senator Sue Boyce is hugged by Senator Ian Macdonald after she gave her valedictory speech. Photo: Andrew Meares
Senator Sue Boyce is hugged by Senator Ian Macdonald after she gave her valedictory speech. Photo: Andrew Meares 

The bidding has now closed for the Mid Winter Ball charity dinners.

Tony Abbott has remained in the top spot, with $15100.

He is followed by Julie Bishop and the Turnbulls with $10600 and then Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek on $3950.

(For that much money, the conversation better be scintillating!)

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Liberal Senator Sue Boyce is saying farewell to the Senate.

She was elected as a senator for Queensland in 2007.

She describes herself as an "accidental politician".

And tells the chamber the she has no truck with MPs who just toe the line of leaders "no matter what, in the hope of a promotion".

The Liberal Senator has crossed the floor three times (once on emissions trading and twice on same-sex marriage).

She describes the experience as "lonely".

"There's a small part of you that feels disloyal."

 

Senator Sue Boyce gave her valedictory speech to the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Senator Sue Boyce gave her valedictory speech to the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares 

There is applause from the chamber as Hogg finishes.

He shouts "order! order!" to quieten them down and bring on Sue Boyce's valedictory.

It really is a lengthy speech.

Hogg has even thanked the guy who painted his portrait.

 

This is quite a lengthy speech from Hogg.

(Ten minutes and counting.)

I'm not sure how this really differs in substance from a "valedictory".

 

Senator John Hogg, outgoing President of the Senate, on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Senator John Hogg, outgoing President of the Senate, on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares 

The parliament is a "19th century model working in a 21st century world'', says Hogg.

He says he does not mean this as a criticism, but that, "we as parliamentarians need to have a vision as to how this parliament will unfold into the future to meet the demands of an ever-changing democracy".

Hogg also queries the "efficiency dividends" that both major parties have imposed on the departments of the Parliament.

"I have real concerns about the adequacy of the funding of this Parliament."

Senator John Hogg outgoing President of the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Senator John Hogg outgoing President of the Senate on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares 
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John Hogg is now addressing the Senate.

He says it is not appropriate to give a valedictory, so a statement will have to do it.

The Queensland Labor Senator was elected in 1996 and has been President since 2008.

He says he thinks he has been fair and honest as President.

"In the end, history will be my judge."

He welcomes the fact that he has been able to retire at a time of his choosing.

Until these final speeches, the Senate has been entertaining itself with a matter of public importance debate about the Great Barrier Reef.

This comes as the UN World Heritage Committee meets to decide whether the reef is in danger or not

 

This afternoon we are standing by for some more farewells in the Senate.

After 5pm, we are expecting a farewell statement from retiring President John Hogg (he is not making a valedictory).

Liberal Senators Sue Boyce and Alan Eggleston will also make valedictories.

 

Still in the Senate, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has just successfully moved that the Community Affairs Committee inquires into inequality in the budget.

The committee has been tasked to report back by November this year, and to look at things such as: the extent of income inequality in Australia and the likely impact of government policies on current and future rates of inequality.

The Senate has also just agreed to refer that CCTV footage matter to the Privileges Committee. This was jointly moved by Cory Bernardi and John Faulkner.

 

 

A few other post-QT updates:

*David Wroe writes about a landmark report about horrific abuse of teenage boys at a former naval training base in Western Australia;

*James Massola reports on the Coalition's asset recycling scheme and the modifications proposed by Labor; and

*Labor and the Greens are threatening to block something else. Lisa Cox reports on fresh government woes about its plans to freeze childcare benefit income thresholds.

 

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The Senate is having a general chat amongst itself.

(In what is officially known as "motions to take notice of answers".)

Labor's Lisa Singh is talking about Liberal MP Ian Macdonald, who in the past few days has raised objections to the debt levy, paid parental leave scheme and fuel tax.

"He is the grumpiest senator in this place," she tells the chamber.

"He is a grumpy guts!"

(Singh has to withdraw the grumpy guts.)

And now some really happy news.

While all those questions and answers were flying, Alex Ellinghausen was not at his usual post in the chamber.

And for good reason.

His daughter, Elizabeth Mary Ellinghausen has just been born!

Making it three daughters for Alex and his wife Katherine.

Congratulations!

At 3.11pm, Tony Abbott calls an end to question time.

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott departs question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott departs question time. Photo: Andrew Meares 

Matthew Knott reported today that Australia Post could be given the OK to end everyday delivery of standard mail by the end of the year.

The mail service recently announced 900 job losses and a rescue package is expected to come to cabinet within months. 

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has just been asked (by Liberal MP Angus Taylor of the Medicare letter), how the government is helping Australia Post, particularly in rural and regional areas.

Turnbull tells the House that there are big "existential" challenges facing Australia Post, but "we are taking them on".

The government is looking at options and working with management.

 

 

 

 

Jenny Macklin asks Abbott about pensions.

How can the PM continue to claim he is not cutting pensions?

"They go up twice every year ... the only difference is that, from September 2017, they will be indexed by the same rate that the member for Jagajaga herself, as Minister for family services, thought was fair and reasonable for the family tax benefit," says the PM.

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares 
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