Federal Politics

Politics Live: May 27, 2014

But before we put on our gumboots to negotiate a truly grumpy Canberra evening, what did we learn?

  • Clive Palmer cares about voters. So he is driving to parliament in a Rolls;
  • Despite Coalition MPs unhappiness about the budget, none were unhappy enough to talk about it in their party room meeting;
  • Government MPs are also no longer safe in the House;
  • Because Bronwyn Bishop is doing her job as Speaker. Just ask her. Or Christopher Pyne; and
  • No matter what's happening in Canberra it is not nearly as whack as Adelaide.

 

Thanks for tuning in today. Alex Ellinghausen, Andrew Meares and I will be back tomorrow morning.

We are just wondering whether we take the Porsche to work or the horse drawn carriage.

 

 

Senate estimates has another busy night ahead.

The Office for Women has just sat down to take questions, while the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority and Australian Maritime Safety Authority (that has been heavily involved in the MH370 search) are up later.

The Immigration Department will also stay in the witness chair.

 

If only the rest of Australia agreed.

(What was that? Two hours and 30 minutes for a QT session in the end?)

No matter what team they were on.

Malcolm Turnbull during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Malcolm Turnbull during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares 

It is worth pointing out that earlier during question time, MPs looked like they were having a super fun time of it.

 

Labor MPs Kate Ellis, Richard Marles and Mark Butler during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Labor MPs Kate Ellis, Richard Marles and Mark Butler during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 
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What else has been happening while the House has debating itself?

Lisa Cox reports on the Climate Change Authority and how it is living in limbo land as it waits to see if parliament will pass legislation to axe it.

Chair Bernie Fraser has told an estimates hearing the damage has "already been done" and that uncertainty has already caused almost half the CCA's staff to quit.

And Philip Dorling reports on the surveillance of Labor senator John Faulkner's office. Senate Clerk Rosemary Laing has said there is a "reasonably strong possibility" that a contempt of the Senate was committed by Department of Parliamentary Services officials.

The plot is really thickening.

 

Meanwhile, Clive is around and caring about things that aren't Rolls Royces.

Here is leader of the house Christopher Pyne demonstrating the need for some of that extra decorum.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne during a division in the House this afternoon. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne during a division in the House this afternoon. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

After a vote 83 to 57 in favour of the government, Burke is called to the despatch box. 

He says he has already apologised that he got the detail wrong yesterday about other speakers not using their dining rooms for fundraising.

"I have nothing to add."

He says if members of the Liberal Party think they can silence him "bring it on".

Madam Speaker addresses the House in return.

She says she does not accept that Burke has apologised.

But decides to let the whole thing drop.

Bishop says she hopes today's episode will "bring about more decorum" in the House.

MPs should put aside their differences so "the people of Australia can indeed feel more proud of us".

The Pyne-Burke face off continues in the House.

Various votes have been taken, in favour of the government/ Pyne/ Bishop

But the guts of the motion still has to be passed that would in effect, require Burke to apologise to Madam Speaker.

The bells have just rung for that.

 

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After another lengthy recitative against Burke by Pyne - including his belief that the manager of opposition business should "repair" his relationship with Bishop - it is Albo's turn.

"You attack one, you attack all," says Albo explaining why he is speaking.

"This is the most childish, student-politics stunt that I have seen in this house since 1996."

(Albo was first elected in '96.)

The House has voted 85 to 57 to suspend standing orders.

Pyne now moves that the House agrees that Tony Burke should apologise to Bronwyn Bishop for his treatment of her yesterday.

AKA "reflecting on the chair, based on a falsehood".

The leader of the house has also broadened his critique - pointing out that Burke has previously called Madam Speaker a "witch" (or Delores Umbridge).

Burke has already insisted that he will not comply with Pyne's wishes (it would be undemocratic). And would be prepared to be "named" as a result.

 

I know you all dig weather metaphors.

As the bells ring for the vote on this motion to suspend stand orders and the House disappears further and further down this rabbit hole, it is apocalyptically black and rainy outside parliament.

 

Storm clouds over Parliament on Tuesday.
Storm clouds over Parliament on Tuesday. 

Burke also protests that Pyne is trying to make him say something he doesn't want to say (even though he has already apologised).

He reckons the North Korean parliament probably behaves similarly.

"What's happened to Australian democracy?"

Tony Burke responding to Christopher Pyne. Photo: Andrew Meares
Tony Burke responding to Christopher Pyne. Photo: Andrew Meares 

Burke then takes to the despatch box to respond.

"If ever there was an example of overreach ... " he begins.

The manager of opposition business tells the House, "don't expect me to get angry about this".

"This is silly."

He says he apologises for getting the McLeay detail wrong (it is noted that the former Speaker ended up resigning for a false compensation claim).

 

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Pyne says Burke must apolose for the "false" accusation.

And if he does not apologise, he should resign.

And if he doesn't resign, then Bill Shorten should sack him.

The phrase "gross calumny" is used.

 

An interjecting Burke. Photo: Andrew Meares
An interjecting Burke. Photo: Andrew Meares 

Pyne refers to an article in the Australian Financial Review in 2000 that talks of former Labor speaker Leo McLeay.

McLeay was speaker from 1989 to 1993.

The Fin story says that McLeay held a fundraising lunch in the Speaker's dining room, with about eight business executives on one occasion at Parliament House.

"[Paul] Keating may have dropped in at the beginning or end of the lunch ..."

Pyne argues this undoes Labor's case that Bishop is somehow acting improperly or differently in the speaker's chair.

 

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during a motion to suspend standing orders. ...
Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during a motion to suspend standing orders. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

But hold tight, kids.

Christopher Pyne is moving to suspend standing orders to get Tony Burke to apologise for his moves and speech yesterday, trying to refer Madam Speaker to the privileges committee for using her parliamentary suite for party fundraising.

 

 

 

 

Christopher Pyne Leader of the House moving a motion against Tony Burke. Photo: Andrew Meares
Christopher Pyne Leader of the House moving a motion against Tony Burke. Photo: Andrew Meares 
Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares 

At 3.09am, Tony Abbott calls an end to QT.

 

Speaking of Joneses another Jones has reappeared in the chamber.

Ewen Jones is back from his hour-long suspension.

Labor protests, with Tony Burke alleging that he has come back too early.

But after consulting with the Clerk, Madam Speaker says Jones is OK.

There are guffaws from the government benches about Labor getting its numbers wrong again.

 

Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, checks his watch after returning to the chamber during question time. Photo: Alex ...
Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, checks his watch after returning to the chamber during question time. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 
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