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?
- Tim Mathieson has a stunt double working for him to promote good causes;
- Just because someone gives you a gift, it doesn't mean you have to accept it (ping Tony Abbott);
- The student protest is alive and kicking. And stems from a long tradition;
- George Brandis doesn't have a personal chef. But he does have fancy cufflinks; and
- There's 18C, royal commissions, the budget. But what people really care about is Peppa Pig.
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
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.)
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.PT1M1S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-394gv 620 349 May 28, 2014
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.
The forces are also mobilising for poor Peppa.
Along with the requisite #savepeppa hashtag we have:
"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.
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. 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.
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. Photo: Timna Jacks
In a doorstop just after question time, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce also appeared unfamilar with the children's TV show.
After having Peppa Pig explained to him, @Barnaby_Joyce says, "Last time I had Peppa Pig it was #23 in my local Thai restaurant."— James Jeffrey (@James_Jeffrey) May 28, 2014
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.PT1M14S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-393zx 620 349 May 28, 2014
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek leaves the chamber. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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 ...
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."
Moving right along and Labor's Julie Collins asks Abbott about youth unemployment:
Despite rising youth unemployment, the government has cut youth unemployment prevention programs in the budget. PM, aren't you making it harder for young people to find a job and then punishing them for being un employed?
The PM says that the government has a message for young Australians.
"Don't waste your life."
Tanya Plibersek has gone!
A dixer to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on the aid budget was her undoing.
Bishop's answer included the observation that Plibersek wanted to add $16 billion to the aid budget.
"Where does she think she will get $16 billion from? ... What fantasy world does she live in?"
"She's a disgrace! She should be ashamed!" Plibersek called before she was kicked out for an hour.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Labor is not dropping the uni fees angle.
Shorten again to Abbott (after rephrasing the question to take out "lies")":
Will you guarantee at the very least that because of your short-term budget young Australians
won't have to choose between going to university or being able to get a mortgage and own their own home in the future?
The PM accuses Shorten of crying "crocodile tears".
"No wonder no one takes this Opposition Leader seriously."
We should note that before question time kicked off today, Leigh went over to Abbott and gave him a copy of his book, Battlers and Billionaires.
(I suppose if the government is going to keep quoting him, they may as well have the source documents.)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was presented with an annotated copy of "Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia" by the ALP member for Fraser Andrew Leigh at the start of QT. Photo: Andrew Meares
Tanya Plibersek again asks the PM about uni degrees.
Recent analysis shows that those who take time off work to have children will pay around $120,000 in today's dollars for an accounting degree, including about $45,000 in interest which would now take 36 years to pay off.
Will the PM guarantee that women who take time off to have children will not be paying off their university degrees for the next 36 years?
Abbott answers by firstly saying that students - whatever the fees are - will have fee HELP.
"No one needs to pay a single cent up-front."
He also rejects the idea that "there is something fundamentally wrong with a deregulated university system".
The PM finishes off with a sort of compliment to Andrew Leigh.
He quotes Leigh (not the first time the government has done this recently) who has said that "market based fees will help to improve our higher education system".
"I can understand why not too many of his colleagues want to sit next to him," Abbott says.
"I think he's got a bit of a communicable disease down there ... you know what it is? It's commonsense."
Labor MP reacts when mentioned by Prime Minister Tony Abbott during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Communications Minister Malcomn Turnbull has also been dixered about the NBN and "waste".
This sees him discuss Labor Party maps, which his predecessor Stephen Conroy decorated with "green blotches" to "suggest that the NBN was rolling out at a massive pace".
His new counterpart, Jason Clare, gets up with a point of order in the form of a pun.
"I think we've had enough Turn-bulldust for today."
Bronwyn Bishop tells Clare to sit down.
Labor is also trying to push the PM on the cost of science and nursing degrees under proposed fee deregulation.
There have been two questions now about costs going up and up.
Abbott is rejecting the idea that kids could be paying $100,000 for their degrees.
"No sensible institution would price itself out of the market," he says. "As simple as that."
The government advisers are being decidedly good here (heads down, etc etc).
The Government advisers box during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Here's a tale of two adviser's boxes.
(We believe it was Shorten's man, Eamonn Fitzpatrick, who was pinged in that Nikolic point of order earlier.)
Adviser's box for the Opposition during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
There is a dixer to C Pyne on higher ed, before Bill Shorten has another question for Tony Abbott.
He refers the PM to Dennis Jensen's science rant.
This morning, the member for Tangney criticised the PM for making cuts to science and funding in the budget, cuts to the CSIRO, the Australian Research Council ... how do massive cuts to Australia's science and research secure Australia's future?
The PM gets his scathe on to reply.
"Madam Speaker, this question is typical of the hypocrisy and the incoherence of the Labor Party because, Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, when he was the Education Minister [he] was in part responsible for a cut to the budget of the CSIRO ...
No one can take this opposition seriously and that question proves it."
Before Andrew Wilkie can ask the crossbench question (about Tasmania's economic development) we have a couple of points of order.
The Coalition's Andrew Nikolic protests about a "jovial fellow" working for Shorten in the adviser's box, who is "gesticulating wildly and laughing uproariously".
This is followed by a point of order from Labor's Rob Mitchell, who uses the phrase "shut up".
Madam Speaker does not like this.
Second, we've had a question from Jenny Macklin to Andrews.
Does the Minister recall telling ABC Radio on Monday that the government is cutting the pension supplement?
Minister, isn't this just another broken promise or, if it's wrong, doesn't it show that both the PM and his Ministers don't even know their own budget?
"All I can say to the member for Jaggajagga is 'come in spinner,'" Andrews replies.
But the hollers from the Labor benches are unforgiving:
"Minister for own goals!"
"I can't hear him, his foot's in his mouth!"
It's a Kevin Andrews double.
And a gotcha double too.
First, we've had a dixer to the Social Services Minister about aged pensioners. Will they keep their pension supplement?
Andrews uses the answer to say that Labor's human services shadow Doug Cameron has released a brochure saying that age pensioners will lose their age supplement.
"I have news for Senator Cameron ... age pensioners don't receive the seniors supplement!"
Social Services minister Kevin Andrews during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
After a dixer to the Treasurer on getting the budget under control (boom boom), Chris Bowen has this one for the PM:
Can the PM confirm that in 2017-18, he will not be contributing one cent to pay for his broken promises but a single income family will lose over $6,000?
(given that the debt levy will stop after three years)
The PM begins by saying, "assuming I am in my current job ... I make no assumptions about political longevity ..."
He then gets serious and says he will be in the top marginal tax rate then (and so paying lotsa money that way).
And adds that if the deficit "disaster" is not controlled, then "every single Australians" will be paying for "many, many years to come".
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen during QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Shorten's second question to Abbott is on the Racial Discrimination Act.
Will the PM listen to the Australian people and abandon his proposed changes? When will the PM agree that protecting racists and bigots is not the Australia that we want to see?
Abbott answers by saying that "racism has no place in Australian society" and that it is "absolutely abhorrent".
"Madam Speaker, as the house would know, we have called for debate, we have sought community input, we are considering the [5,300] submissions that we have received and we will be responding in due course."
The first dixer is also to the PM.
It is from WA MP Christian Porter and goes something like this:
Will the PM inform the house why it is important to reduce Australia's debt burden. And how will tackling Labor's debt and deficit legacy strengthen the economy for the long term?
The PM thanks him for the "important question".
Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time. Photo: Andrew Meares
Question time is here.
And it begins with a question from BS to TA.
It concerns the "heartless cut" in funds for the child abuse royal commission.
Will the PM now reverse this?
The Prime Minister tells the House "there has been no cut".
Much like the arguments put forward in estimates today, Abbott says there was an "underspend" in one area of the A-G's portfolio and it has simply been spent in another.
(Hence the money being moved to the home insulation inquiry.)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrives for QT. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
As we head into question time, we also note that Shorten told the audience in the Q and A that followed his speech, that the mining tax is likely to be repealed in the new Senate.
"Because of the statements of both the Coalition and indeed Clive Palmer."
He added that he also suspects the Coalition "will have the numbers after July 1 to repeal the carbon price".
FYI on that one.
And who should Shorten bump into at the Hotel Realm but Marn!
The former Labor minister is now the chair of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
(So don't think he's some Shorten groupie, following him around everywhere listening to his speeches.)
Former Labor Minister Martin Ferguson is greeted by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the Annual Minerals Week seminar lunch in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Dutton was not the sole lunchtime talker today.
Bill Shorten was at the Realm Hotel next door to the Press Club, addressing the minerals week seminar lunch.
"I believe in mining, and I want mining to prosper," he told the crowd.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addresses the Annual Minerals Week Seminar lunch. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Back at the press club, The Age's Dan Harrison asks Dutton about hospitals funding.
The last time spoke at the club was last year for the pre-election debate in August, you said the Coalition would deliver the same level of funding Labor promised for public hospitals over the forward estimates.
Putting aside the commitments that Labor made outside the forward estimates, the budget does include significant reductions in funding for public hospitals, including in years that were then considered the forward estimates.
So how do you square what you said then with what's in your budget?
Dutton argues that the figures "across the portfolio" are to increase health funding.
He adds that hospital funding will grow by 9 per cent a year over the next three years.
"What we have been sceptical about is that some of the states have been overstating the amount of activity within their hospitals."
Health Minister Peter Dutton addresses the National Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Press Gallery vending machine 28 May 2014: Supplied.
All the estimates committees are currently on their lunch break.
We are staking out the vending machine here to see if Brandis comes back for some Twisties.
Into questions, and Joanna Heath from the AFR asks about Dennis Jensen's critique of the medical research fund.
Dutton says Jensen has "expressed a view and that's fair enough".
But he says it is "incumbent upon us" to invest in medical research to deal with diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
"I make no apology for that whatsoever."
What is the plan B if the co-payment doesn't make it through the Senate?
Dutton does not answer this one.
Down in front of the glowing purple screen of the National Press Club, Health Minister Peter Dutton is giving today's address.
"My strong belief is that once we have a full and frank and honest discussion with the Australian people, they will understand what it is the government seeks to achieve with this budget," he has said.
"It is about sustainability, it is about strengthening Medicare."
Health Minister Peter Dutton addresses the National Press Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
After a brief discussion about the Brandis Bookcase (where the Senator confirmed he was satisfied with the quality of the wood that was used and of the size of the shelves), the Legal Affairs Committee has moved on to talk about the royal commission into child sexual abuse.
Brandis rounds on Mark Dreyfus for suggesting that funding is uncertain this morning.
The Attorney says he has talked to the commission and they have assured him there is enough money to do its work.
He adds that the royal commission has also asked for - and been granted an extension - for its interim report.
It was due to report back by June 30 this year. This will be extended to August 30.
(There is no suggestion this was due to funding issues.)
It's not party central any more.
Attorney-General Senator George Brandis at estimates on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Earlier this morning, Brandis was at pains to point out that his catering tastes are actually very restrained.
He talked about an arts portfolio event he had at parliament where he sent a staff member upstairs to the press gallery vending machines to get some Twisties.
This was in direct contrast to similar events that his predecessor, Tony Burke had at the end of Labor's tenure.
Taxpayers reportedly spent more than $54,000 for "stakeholder engagement functions" in 2013.
Brandis told estimates that under him, "it's not exactly party central any more".
In the Legal Affairs Committee, George Brandis is again questioned by Labor's Lisa Singh.
She asks him if he has a personal chef.
"It depends what you mean by a personal chef," he replies, noting that "on occasions" his son and daughter cook for him.
"I think you know what I mean," Singh warns. "Have you ever had a tax-payer funded chef [as A-G]?"
"Alas, no," Brandis laments.
In cheerier news for the government, the deficit levy has passed the lower house.
Independent Cathy McGowan tried to amend the bill this morning, so that the levy was extended from an end date of 2016-17 to 2020-21, "to ensure the debt and deficit burden is spread more fairly amongst all Australians".
Only McGowan, Adam Bandt, Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter voted "aye" on this one.
Then, the unamended bill was passed.
(This is no surprise, after Labor announced over the weekend that it would not block the levy.)
There is also a tragicomic element to the Palmer production at the moment, no?
As Lisa Cox reports, this morning, the PUP leader vowed (again) not to have talks with the government about key elements of the budget until his party is given more staff to help look at the bills.
He told Radio National, "we're not being obstructionist at all".
Attorney-General Senator George Brandis appeared before Senate Estimates with Comedy / Tragedy cufflinks. Photo: Andrew Meares
It's fantastic to see people making a special effort on this estimates day.
And not just with what they say.
Attorney-General George Brandis is sporting some way appropriate cufflinks as he discusses funding - and funding cuts - to the arts sector.
Perhaps doubling as a comment on how the sale of the budget is going?
Back to Australia Post for a moment, Gareth Hutchens has a report out of the Finance hearing.
Australia Post may not be up for grabs, but it will proceed with a scoping study into the sale of the Australian Mint.
There is also a scoping study afoot into the potential sale of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission business registry arm (which was not an Audit Commission recommendation).
The ABC is now appearing before the Communications Committee.
Managing Director Mark Scott is in le hot chair.
He has been pressed by chair, Nationals senator Wacka Williams, first on the Chaser's Chris Kenny/dog stunt (why did it take the ABC so long to apologise?)
And then on protests on the set of Q&A.
Scott says that there have been nearly 240 shows and only two protests in that time.
There were the uni kids with the banner recently and then "the famous shoe episode".
"Part of the drama of television is that it's live an unpredictable," says Scott.
But the ABC is "reviewing" its security measures.
ABC managing director Mark Scott at estimates. Photo: Andrew Meares
Recently Tim Mathieson has been in the media talking about how much more work he did than Margie Abbott.
Is this how he achieves his amazing workload?
By having a stunt double?
Frankie J Holden. Or Tim Mathieson? Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has been at an event for Kidney Health Australia at parliament.
(Did you know that 1 in 3 Australians is at increased risk of kidney disease?)
The event was hosted by someone very familiar looking.
Singer/actor Frankie J Holden introduces Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews at the Kidney Health Australian event at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The Audit Commission (which seems such a long time ago now!) recommended that among other assets, the Coalition sell off Australia Post and the Australian Submarine Corp.
But our express post packs and subs will stay in government hands.
In response to questioning by Labor's Joe Ludwig, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has told the Finance Committee this morning:
"We have decided not to proceed with the sale of ASC, we have decided not to proceed with the sale of Australia Post."
To be fair, you could probably ask if Rolf Harris had applied and officials would not be able to rule it out.
The subject of one Sophie Mirabella has come up at estimates in the Environment and Communications Committee.
The Communications Department is appearing and has just been asked about a vacancies on the SBS and ABC boards.
Labor's Louise Pratt has had some questions about the recruitment process.
Can you reassure us that the story in Crikey that Sophie Mirabella is to be appointed chair of SBS is just an April Fools joke?
"I can say unequivocally that no decisions have been taken on these appointments," replied Communications Secretary Drew Clarke.
So the question remains open as to whether she is a potential nominee?
"We would not comment," Clarke said.
"The question of who has put their hand up is a strictly confidential matter for those individuals and the government."
(Is it a bit cheeky to be having a union event on an origin day?)
Labor MP Graham Perrett during the Pollies vs Rugby Union All-stars touch rugby game at Parliament House on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Here is Warren Snowden demonstrating the soccer part.
Labor MP Warren Snowdon during the Pollies vs Rugby Union All-stars touch rugby game. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Labor's Graham Perrett and Kate Lundy were there, as well as Liberal MP Angus Taylor.
Perrett gave Lundy some helpful advice about how to play (apparently, it's a bit like soccer.)
Labor MP Graham Perrett tells Senator Kate Lundy, "it's like soccer, but you can't go past the ball", ahead of the Pollies vs Rugby Union All-stars touch rugby game. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
But there are other forms of rugby going on here at parliament, we'll have you know.
MPs were out on the juicy green grass this morning for a touch footy friendly for rugby union.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver and Labor MP Warren Snowdon ahead of the Pollies vs Rugby Union All-stars touch rugby game. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
On this origin day, pollies are of course putting on the relevant tops, mate against mate stylee.
The Greens Penny Wright has been asking Brandis about the judges for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards this year.
These were announced last week and there has already been some comment about the "line up-up of mostly like-minded judges".
Brandis has batted back the idea, arguing that Louise Adler, the chair of the fiction and poetry category is a progressive.
(Adler, of Melbourne University Press, published Abbott's book Battlelines.)
The A-G has also argued that cabinet contains many published authors (including Kevin Andrews and Andrew Robb as well as the PM).
"We are very much a government that cares about writing."
Attorney-General Senator George Brandis at estimates. Photo: Andrew Meares
Labor's Lisa Singh, however, is taking issue with proceedings.
She has complained that Brandis is filibustering.
"You have a style of giving outlandish, long answers!"
(The chair, FYI, is Ian Macdonald.)
The Attorney-General's portfolio is of course up at estimates today.
And the Attorney himself has been starring early.
He has been dismissing the severity of an $87.1 million cut over four years to arts funding (to things like Screen Australia and the Australia Council).
Brandis has noted that in a tough budget, things could have been a lot worse.
"The arts have done particularly well in this budget, given the circumstances."
Attorney-General Senator at estimates. Photo: Andrew Meares
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has just spoken at a biometrics conference in Sydney.
He has just addressed reporters there (albeit not on the footage).
When asked about changes to the race hate laws, Morrison said: "There's a consultation process underway and the government is listening to the consultations".
(All 5,300 of them.)
Nearly two hours of video show the meeting that was held between staff and asylum seekers before the violence. And show its descent into chaos as the detainees vented their frustrations and officials delivered scripted answers.
David and Michael also quote one asylum seeker who expressed concerns about his safety.
"PNG is a high-crime country ... Can you protect me?"
Dreyfus is also calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Brandis to come out today and say they will abandon changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
"To abandon this attempt to give a green light to racism."
Mark Dreyfus, Brandis' Labor counterpart, is up in arms about this.
Dreyfus has been on the doors of parliament this morning.
He says that Brandis tried to conceal this funding change during the February estimates session.
And adds that the government needs to give assurances that the child sexual abuse royal commission will have enough money to do its work properly.
It is "fulfilling such an important role and fulfilling what all of those survivors and all of their supporters wanted".
Still in Brandis' portfolio, we also learn from Michael Gordon that the Abbott government redirected funds from the royal commission into child sexual abuse to the royal commission into the home insulation program.
The Attorney-General's Department has made a $6.7 million contribution to the royal commission looking into the Rudd government program that saw 4 young men killed.
This came from savings in the child abuse royal commission's capital budget. And from funds that were "not required" in 2013-14.
A spokesman for Senator Brandis says the child abuse inquiry - which was of course set up by Julia Gillard - will have enough money to complete its work.
We begin the day with the news that Attorney-General George Brandis is preparing to water down the controversial plans to scrap sections of the Racial Discrimination Act.
As James Massola and Mark Kenny report, two Liberal MPs, who supported scrapping 18C of the act have also admitted that the government needs to rethink the proposed changes.
With the government facing a helluva battle over the budget, it stands to reason that they don't want a continued fight over the race hate laws.
The proposed changes have already brought Coalition backbenchers out of the woodwork (who are copping much community concern in their electorates).
There have also been some 5,300 submissions to the government on the proposed changes.
An almost unheard of number for something like this.
Hi and welcome to Hump Day in Canberra.
Parliament is sitting, estimates is quizzing and people are wondering why money was taken away from one royal commission and given to another.
Estimates rages with the ABC, the Finance Department and the Attorney-General's Department.
Meanwhile, the Coalition's Dennis Jensen has had a crack over science funding and is there a change to race-hate laws in the offing?
The Press Club also gets a work out, this time with Health Minister Peter Dutton.
Storm clouds over Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen