Federal Politics

Politics Live: May 28, 2014

But it is time we packed up our Twisties and headed home to not watch the State of Origin (sorry!).

Before then, what did we learn?

 

Andrew Meares, Alex Ellinghausen and I will see you tomorrow.

(Oh but will we see Peppa?)

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott winks during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Prime Minister Tony Abbott winks during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

Senate estimates again will talk on into the night.

Up later are the Australian Electoral Commission and Australia Post.

 

Now speaking of protests, here's Joe Hockey in 1987.

Protesting against the introduction of university fees.

"We will continue to go out onto the streets and protest," the then 22 year-old says.

(Sounding EXACTLY the same.)

Jacqueline Maley has the story here.

Joe Hockey: We will protest for free education

Treasurer Joe Hockey backed protests against university fees as a student leader back in the 1980s. Nine News.

In further higher education news, the AFR reports that Christopher Pyne has opened the door to collecting HECS from dead students.

This would provide about $800 million a year to the budget.

As Tim Dodd writes: 

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review Mr Pyne said he had no "ideological opposition" to collecting debts from the estates of former students who died still owing money to the government’s income contingent student loan scheme, which is commonly known as HECS.

Mr Pyne pointed out that "if an elderly person passes away with a HECS debt, they wouldn’t be able to say to the bank, we’re not paying back our mortgage, yet they are at the moment entitled to not pay back their HECS debt".

(I wonder what the student protesters will make of this one?)

We've got some support here for Jason Clare from his colleauge, Michelle Rowland.

 

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The forces are also mobilising for poor Peppa.

Along with the requisite #savepeppa hashtag we have:

A "Save Peppa Pig's Bacon" Facebook campaign from the Greens and a ridonkulously pun-laded media release from Jason Clare (following on from his QT effort).

"PEPPA PIG ROASTED BY ABBOTT'S BUDGET PORKIES" the title blares from the Labor communications spokesman.

And then there's this in the body of the release:

"If you think university students are upset, wait until pre-schoolers find out that Peppa may be sent to the Abbotoir."

 

The protest at the Whitehouse Institute in Melbourne has been accompanied by some vandalism at its Sydney campus.

Although, we should note, the Socialist Alternative, who organised the Melbourne protest say they are not responsible.

As Melanie Kembrey reports, dozens of red stickers saying "bullshit" were stuck across the doors and windows of the Surry Hills campus overnight.

NB, while Frances Abbott studied in Sydney, she is now working as a teacher's aide at the Whitehouse in Melbourne where she is hoping to keep studying.

 

Vandals put stickers over the doors and windows of the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Surry Hills.
Vandals put stickers over the doors and windows of the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Surry Hills. 

This is a sad sight.

Andrew Leigh's gift to the PM before question time, abandoned at the end of the session.

The Pulse understands that when he gave the PM his most recent book, Leigh told him it was his QT pack for the day.

He had even flagged relevant pages.

(Leigh is keen to encourage the PM to read his recent work, rather than previous writings ... that might not quite adhere to current Labor policy.)

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh's book 'Battlers and Billionaires' remains on the table after question time. ...
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh's book 'Battlers and Billionaires' remains on the table after question time. Photo: Andrew Meares 

Over in the Communications Committee, Matthew Knott reports on non-Peppa matters.

Job losses could start at the ABC within weeks, Mark Scott has told Senate estimates. 

There will also be a reduction in the ABC's number of foreign correspondents as a result of the axing of the Australia Network.

 

 

 

In Canberra, the Legal Affairs Committee continues to press George Brandis about 18C and the Racial Discrimination Act.

"How can you ignore the majority of key community groups, the Law Council of Australia ... against this change?" Labor's Lisa Singh asks him, volume turned up. 

The Attorney is sticking to his guns.

"I think 18C should be changed."

Earlier, in questioning from the Greens Penny Wright, Brandis would not say how many of the 5300 submissions the government has had on its draft changes to the law were in favour of the change.

 

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In Melbourne, there has been a protest in the CBD against Frances Abbott's scholarship to the Whitehouse Institute, as well as other changes planned for higher education.

Timna Jacks tells us that about 50 protesters charged a police line guarding the entrance to the Whitehouse campus building just after 3pm.

The chant was "Tony Abbott f--- you, we want $60,000 too".

The protest was organised by the Socialist Alternative wing of student politics.

The students must not have heard or headed the recent pleas from both Abbott and Bill Shorten that families be kept out of politics.

Timna has taken this shot of the police line.

Police outside a student protest in Melbourne.
Police outside a student protest in Melbourne. Photo: Timna Jacks

In a doorstop just after question time, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce also appeared unfamilar with the children's TV show.

 

During the discussion, chair Wacka Williams said he was not familiar with the pig and so Scott offered to give him some Peppa DVDs. 

But the gift horse was knocked in the mouth.

"My brother and I are former pig farmers. I've seen enough of pigs and smelled enough in my life over many decades I can assure you," Wacka replied.

Clearly the charms of a candy pink cartoon are lost on him.

So on to the issue that has the toddler demographic - and their parents - really concerned today.

ABC managing director Mark Scott had been highlighting to the Communications Committee that if the broadcaster's funding is cut, well programs and services can't be guaranteed.

Before lunch, Labor's Louise Pratt asked if Peppa Pig was safe from cuts, particularly from conservatives, concerned about her "dangerous feminist ideology".

"Is Peppa safe?"

"We have contracts to deliver Peppa Pig, but of course the services we provide depends on the funding envelope provided," Scott replied.

 

 

Fund the ABC, or the pig goes

In an animated senate estimates hearing, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott said he couldn't guarantee Peppa Pig would be safe from budget cuts.

Gone.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 
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Going

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

Going

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber under standing order 94a for interjecting. Photo: Alex ...
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber under standing order 94a for interjecting. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

We noted earlier that Tanya Plibersek was the high-profile bootee of QT today.

Here's how it happened ...

At 3.14pm, Tony Abbott calls an end to question time.

 

In a dixer to Ian Macfarlane about support for apprentices, the Industry Minister keeps up the tough talk.

"We're not whinging Willies on this side."

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