Welcome to our live coverage of politics from the national capital. All times in AESDT. You can also follow me on Twitter @murpharoo
9.30pm: Now Pulsers, I think it's time for us to pull up stumps.
A quick evening summary:
- Wayne Swan handed down his fifth Budget, which delivered a surplus, but also hand-outs to families.
- The Budget junked the corporate tax cut promised as part of the mining tax package to pay for the handouts to families.
- But the Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper affairs continued to clutter the landscape.
- The resumption of Question Time saw two separate suspension motions moved by the Opposition.
- The first involved an attempt to restore Labor's Harry Jenkins to the Speaker's chair. It was tied 72/72 - but failed because it fell short of an absolute majority.
- The second was an effort to ban Craig Thomson from the House for 14 days. It too failed, but just.
- It's a wild old ride, this Parliament.
Join us again on The Pulse tomorrow for the big Budget sell, all the fun of the fair in Parliament, and much more besides.
Thanks to the wonderfully talented Andrew Meares, the pioneer and producer of PulseTV, for his super-human efforts today.
Hope you had fun.
We certainly did.
We'll do it all again tomorrow.
9.20pm: Tony Abbott's verdict.
Australians want a government which can deliver a stronger Australia, reduce cost of living pressures and create secure jobs. #budget— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) May 8, 2012
9.10pm: Don't sweat the numbers dudes.
Wayne Swan lays some hard sell on Fairfax executives, including The Age editor Paul Ramadge (left), Pulse boss Mark Baker, Managing Editor National (with the notebook) - and Mark Coultan (seated with the notebook) and Jess Irvine from The Sydney Morning Herald.
9.00pm: We've just wrapped up our live stream.
The Budget analysis goes on.
What will these folks do with Wayne Swan's surplus?
The cross bench.
How willing will this negotiation get?
8.25pm: And just by the by.
That bonus for school kiddies?
Don't bank it just yet.
Joe Hockey says te the Coalition won't support the school kids payment #budget— Simon Cullen (@Simon_Cullen) May 8, 2012
8.22pm: The welfare lobby likes the boost to family payments.
But not the smack to single parents.
Here is the Australian Council of Social Service.
The major blight on this year’s Budget is the unnecessary attack on 100,000 single parents who'll be left worse off.
The surplus could have been achieved without leaving some of the most disadvantaged families and their children in deficit.
8.20pm: The Business Council of Australia has been diplomatic enough not to hammer the Government over that corporate tax cut that vanished into the hip pockets of battling families.
Here is their first take:
The opportunity was for a Budget that delivered a meaningful and sustainable surplus, a coherent medium-term economic and fiscal strategy, measures to lock in responsible government spending, reforms that will lift our competitiveness and an improved focus on supporting investment certainty.
Tonight’s Budget goes some of the way to achieving the key fiscal goals but more hard yards lie ahead. While a return to surplus will be welcome, the test will be in the delivery and this remains a challenge.
The Opposition has a hash tag.
MPs are fanning out now.
Labor promised no carbon tax, how can you trust their Budget? #cookedbooks— Natasha Griggs (@NatashaGriggsMP) May 8, 2012
Where is the love?
Here it is.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard hugs Wayne Swan just a few moments ago in the House after the Budget speech.
8.05pm: Shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey.
This Budget again confirms that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have no plan to build a stronger economy, repay debt or create secure jobs.
This is a confused Budget with no coherent economic strategy to deliver stronger growth and higher productivity.
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan only have a plan for more borrowing, more taxes and record debt.
8.00pm: Here's the Treasury Secretary, Martin Parkinson, and the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, watching on at Wayne Swan's press conference in the Budget lock-up.
7.55pm: Now, for first analysis on the Budget.
The Sydney Morning Herald's national affairs correspondent, Lenore Taylor.
This is cash, versus credibility.
The politics of this budget comes down to a battle between cash and credibility.
Labor is offering cash, lots of cash. The people it calls ''battlers'' will get $5 billion in various payments on top of the $15 billion in tax cuts and benefits they are receiving as carbon tax compensation.
The political tactics are obvious. The battler hand-outs are funded from the new minerals resource rent tax, using the money that was supposed to pay for the now-scrapped one per cent cut to company taxation.
Tony Abbott has vowed to oppose the mining tax and all measures that are funded from it. So it is his fault, according to the government, that companies aren't getting a tax cut. And it'll be his fault if the battlers don't get their bonuses.
And even if they do get them, despite opposition from the Coalition, because the crossbenchers side with Labor and vote them through, then the government will continually remind people that Tony Abbott wanted to give that money to the mining magnates in their corporate jets.
7.50pm: Get into the swing of the evening with Jessica Wright's news report about the Budget.
Labor has made a $5 billion pitch to its heartland, splashing cash hand-outs and tax breaks on families and low income earners in the federal budget.
But the bonanza has come at the expense of business with the government abandoning its promised one per cent company tax cut.
That link to Jessie's news story also takes you to our live stream.
I'll be heading over to that shortly, to talk through the day.
7.46pm: Predictably, mining magnate Clive Palmer (and future combatant against Mr Swan in his Queensland seat .. probably) is unimpressed.
7.45pm: Here's Mr Swan, in the Budget lock-up, just a little while ago.
7.30pm: Ah, a fist full of dollars Budget.
Thanks for your patience. Has much happened while we’ve been locked away?
Here we are back, with the breaking news after the Budget lock-up.
Remember those company tax cuts for big business that the Greens and the Coalition were threatening to mow down in the Senate?
Sorry. They aren’t happening. (Apologies to Clive, Gina, Twiggy etc ...)
The Treasurer wasn't apologising, he was repackaging this redirection of largesse as spreading the benefits of the boom.
Families, some of them anyway, will now trouser the hip-pocket benefit that big business was expecting.
That’s families on Family Tax Benefit Part A. From July next year (election timing anyone), the government estimates 1.5 million families will have their benefits topped-up, some by as much as $600 a year.
(This is on top of that education kiddies bonus that many of you will have read about a few days back as one of those authorised Budget leaks.)
The pitch to Labor punters is pretty obvious isn’t it? Battling families flirting with the notion of Prime Minister Tony Abbott: here’s some money.
Oldest play in the book.
What else you ask?
That $1.5 billion surplus in 2012-13 is there, and more like it in the out-years.
But it’s built on a whole batch of assumptions (tricky and contentious those, always), as well as a whole batch of savings and fiddles. One hears the distant sound of Treasury spread sheets finessing.
The Treasurer in the Budget lock-up was adjusting his narrative a jot.
This was not just a Budget for a surplus, Mr Swan said (moving us past all those weeks of preamble where he has worshipped the very notion of back in the black).
This was a Budget for spreading the benefits of the boom.
(Strangely in this Budget it's just the "boom." Generic. Not "the mining boom." Make of that what you will.)
3.50pm: We are going to leave Craig Thomson to his tough day at the office now.
I'm going to go into the Budget lock-up, and will be back with you all later on this evening, both here, at The Pulse, and on our live stream.
Stay with us.
This day sure ain't over yet.
Craig Thompson just walked past me. Eyes down. First one out. Couldn't get out fast enough— Rev. Bill Crews (@RevBillCrews) May 8, 2012
3.45pm: The second suspension vote is resolved in the negative, 70 to 72.
3.40pm: Eyes in the chamber galleries, The Sun Herald's Steph Peatling.
3.35pm: Bells are ringing now for the division on the second Pyne motion to suspend Mr Thomson for 14 days.
Liberal Paul Fletcher was ejected a moment ago by Speaker Anna Burke, depriving the Coalition of a number.
Mr Pyne is querying whether Mr Thomson should vote in this division, given it concerns his future.
Speaker Burke says she doesn't see why not.
She sees no obvious issue of procedure.
The Labor Gov't continues to defend Slipper and Thompson. Unbelievable!— Stuart Robert MP (@stuartrobertmp) May 8, 2012
3.25pm: Liberal Julie Bishop is using her contribution to the suspension to question the Prime Minister's judgment and integrity in the handling of the Craig Thomson affair.
Here's Ms Gillard and Tony Abbott passing each other in the division just before.
Not much small talk here.
Anthony Albanese says he's never been in the dock.
He's never been charged for anything.
But this is the most dangerous resolution to come before the Parliament.
He says this second Pyne motion attempts to suspend a member for 14 days.
Think about the implications if this motion is carried.
Mr Albanese says think about majority government.
If this resolution is carried, any future government can just decide it is the jury and suspend people from the parliament.
There are allegations against the Member for Dobell. If they are true he deserves to face the full force of the law. But he is entitled to fair process. That is the system of government we have. It's called democracy. It's what people stand in front of tanks to get.
3.15pm: Mr Pyne says Parliament needs to take action to preserve its reputation.
He says, given the allegations in the FWA report, the government should not be relying on Mr Thomson's vote in the Parliament.
The conclusions of the FWA investigation were utterly damning, Mr Pyne says.
Mr Thomson could make a full statement to Parliament.
This motion gives him the opportunity to do that.
3.10pm: Tony Abbott manages to fire off a couple of questions on the Budget before the Prime Minister shuts down Question Time.
But the procedural antics are far from over this afternoon.
Mr Pyne is at the suspension gate again.
Now he's trying to get Mr Thomson suspended from the services of the House of Representatives for 14 days.
(This would of course deprive Labor of a number in the House when they are trying to get the Budget passed.)
3.05pm: A brief study in estrangement.
Independent Andrew Wilkie, who voted with the Coalition on the suspension motion.
Giving the government a little piece of his mind, again.
"I will support whichever party I am confident can deliver stable, competent and ethical government."**Wilkie, August 23, 2010— Mark Textor (@markatextor) May 8, 2012
And Craig Thomson, now sitting on the cross bench.
3.00pm: Locked-up at 72 72.
An absolute nail biter.
But the suspension fails due to the lack of an absolute majority.
Anna Burke doesn't need to use a casting vote, and remains as acting Speaker.
Breathe out Harry Jenkins.
2.55pm: The Sunday Age's Misha Schubert, from her viewing point in the chamber.
Wilkie and Katter vote with the Coalition to install Jenkins as Speaker. Bandt, Oakeshott, Windsor and Thomson with Labor.— Misha Schubert (@mishaschubert) May 8, 2012
2.51pm: Please, please, please, implores Mr Pyne.
Here he is lobbying Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.
2.50pm: The House is dividing now on the suspension.
2.45pm: Labor's Anthony Albanese says Mr Pyne's suspension can't work because it is a breach of the standing orders.
Is parliamentary practice and the Constitution now the vibe, Mr Albanese asks?
Mr Albanese is using the opportunity of the suspension to work through what the Coalition may have known about the intentions of Mr Slipper's accuser, (his former staffer) James Ashby.
Mr Albanese is talking about Mr Pyne's contact with Mr Ashby before he launched his legal proceedings against Mr Slipper. He says it is highly unusual contact - between an MP and a staffer from the Speaker's office, given Mr Slipper is no longer a Liberal.
I have never done that, ever.
It is not normal practice.
Nor have I emailed the Speaker's office and tried to get the private contact details of a staffer.
Hang on, I couldn't end up being the Speaker again could I?
2.35pm: The Opposition.
Wild about Harry.
(Who, it must be said, appears delighted with this reversal of fortune.)
Here's Mr Jenkins in the chamber a moment ago.
2.32pm: Here's Peter Slipper, leaving the chamber, just a few moments ago.
Anna Burke, in the chair, is trying to call Mr Pyne to order in this suspension motion.
Mr Pyne seems undaunted.
2.30pm: While Mr Pyne continues his effort to re-draft Mr Jenkins to the Speakership, Labor's Craig Thomson is having none of this exile business.
@annabelcrabb very unkind to Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie who are one seat away— Craig Thomson (@DobellThommo) May 8, 2012
2.25pm: And lest we assume we are lurching inexorably toward a kinder gentler polity, here is Liberal Christopher Pyne.
Moving a motion to try and reinstate Labor's Harry Jenkins as Speaker.
The Coalition is moving this motion because we believe the integrity of the parliament has been significantly damaged.
2.20pm: Condolences continue on now for Jimmy Little, and for Murray Rose.
2.16pm: And ...
Craig Thomson seated in the wilds - on cross benches, probably physically further from another human than anyone in this room— Annabel Crabb (@annabelcrabb) May 8, 2012
2.15pm: We are now dealing with condolences for Lionel Bowen and the Liberal Senator Judith Adams.
Both the Prime Minister and Opposition leader are paying tribute to Bowen, a respected Labor man, a person described by Bob Hawke as a man of pure crystal -and to Adams, who died recently after a decade-long battle with cancer.
Mr Abbott says of Adams:
The Parliament needs people who are representative of our society at large. Judith wasn't the most academic member of this Parliament, but she was certainly one of the most passionate.
She was a great lady and we will miss her.
2.10pm: Mr Slipper tells Parliament members would be aware of allegations made against him by a former staffer, James Ashby.
The Speaker says the resumption of Parliament is his first chance to respond.
I deny the allegations that have been made.
It is unfortunate that trial by media seems to have become the order of the day.
Mr Slipper says the broader community understands his ambitions and aspirations as Speaker.
There is much more to be done and I look forward to completing what I have begun.
And just like that, Labor's Anna Burke is in the chair.
Dead silence in the chamber.
2.00pm: Here is Peter Slipper.
Splendid in bow tie.
Reading the prayer.
Almost like nothing had happened.
1.45pm: And just before Question Time, we can squeeze in an update on the story we covered earlier (see the post at 11.15am) about Senator Helen Kroger.
The Opposition leader Tony Abbott has nixed moves to edge Senator Kroger out of her position as Opposition whip in the Senate.
Party sources have told The Pulse Mr Abbott did not want any distractions from the government on Budget day.
Good news for Senator Kroger. For now, at least.
Just a few minutes away now.
1.35pm: Sorry for that brief lull.
I was preoccupied finishing up our latest offering in PulseTV.
Andrew Meares and I went down to the bunker with Wayne Swan this morning, and hung out for a bit with the Treasurer and his children.
In this short documentary we take you inside the Treasurer's office and give you a sense of being on the spot on Budget day. This was shot and edited and produced by Andrew.
Enjoy a bit of fly on-the-wall from us.
We had a great time.
Turn off the auto-refresh at the top of the blog before viewing.
12.56pm: Readers of The Sydney Morning Herald, consider yourselves warned about the enhanced state of one of your Budget commentators.
Sitting in the dappled sunshine outside Aussie's cafe with my third coffee of the day. Budget. Bring it #budget2012— Jessica Irvine (@Jess_Irvine) May 8, 2012
Peter Slipper has called off his planned Speaker's procession.— Latika Bourke(@latikambourke) May 8, 2012
12.50pm: So how about this surplus?
Any chance of getting it through the Parliament unscathed?
The ABC's Fran Kelly was working this point over with the Finance Minister Penny Wong earlier today. How do you know you can deliver what you promise?
(In this Parliament, at this moment, it is a more than reasonable question.)
But the Government would prefer that we thought more about Tony Abbott as wrecker than about how the Prime Minister will manage another round of haggling with the cross benchers.
See how Senator Wong reframes Fran Kelly's question (and how Kelly persists in the face of the reframing)?
KELLY: OK, you’ve come out with at $1.5 billion surplus. Let’s face it, it’ll only take one or two measures picked apart by the Opposition or the Independents to sink this surplus ...
WONG: We always have to get our savings measures through Parliament. But this will be a test for Tony Abbott. This is the surplus year. He says he wants a surplus. If he opposes any Government savings measures, he will make it clear to the Australian people he is nothing more than a wrecker. He would be seeking to wreck the surplus...
KELLY: Well, he doesn’t believe your surplus on faith, for starters.
WONG: A very convenient proposition for him, isn’t it, to say ‘I don’t believe it, so I can therefore wreck it’?
KELLY: He also says that we can’t trust it because, as the Coalition points out rightly, just a year ago the deficit was predicted to be tens of billions of dollars less than what it’s actually going to be when the Treasurer announces it tonight. Therefore, how can we believe a tiny surplus of $1.5 billion?
WONG: What I’d say is, let’s look at the figures today in the Budget.
12.30pm: The bells are ringing in the red chamber.
Senators are gathering now to begin the Budget sitting.
Meanwhile House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper is preparing for a brief but meaningful cameo this afternoon at 2pm.
Mr Slipper, who has stepped aside rather than face a vote from the floor querying his authority, is due to make a short statement about his future at the beginning of Question Time today.
The plan is for Labor's Anna Burke to take over in the chair once Mr Slipper has concluded his statement.
But given the possibilities for drama these days seem endless, best just record that as a plan, a working title.
12.10am: Is that ... a magpie above the Treasurer's head?
What's the old adage about bird poop and good luck?
11.55am: The Sydney Morning Herald's national affairs correspondent Lenore Taylor has discovered Kevin Rudd can, in fact, be named, at least in select circles.
Rudd (unlike Lord Voldermort of the Harry Potter novels) can be named by Kim Carr, the former Industry Minister, who backed the former Prime Minister in the leadership challenge earlier this year.
Senator Carr, always a great champion of the automotive industry, was lauded at a car-makers function in Canberra last night.
But he was not content to sit back and take all the credit.
I want to make particular mention of Kevin Rudd, whose role in establishing the New Car Plan was critical, Senator Carr said.
As Lenore notes: That would be the New Car Plan that included a green car innovation fund - the last $400 million of which was scrapped by Julia Gillard as she struggled to find money to pay for flood reconstruction.
11.30am: Still not good.
Whatever way you look at that Fair Work Australia report.
If you want to read the report itself, and the relevant correspondence between FWA and the Senate Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, click here.
Why does Australian politics at the moment resemble Little Britain?
Read Tony Wright's fun piece from this morning to find out.
11.15am: Let's move off-Budget for a second.
Victorian Liberal Senator Helen Kroger hasn't had a great run of late.
First she lost her winnable number two spot on the senate ticket for the 2013 election.
Now her position as Opposition whip in the Senate is apparently under threat.
Here's a breaking news report from my Age colleague, Richard Willingham, about this morning's developments.
If you are interested in some of the cross currents sitting beneath this story concerning generational change in the Victorian Liberal Party, I wrote my column in this space for The Age on Monday.
It's an interesting back-story. Some are calling it the end of the Kroger era (meaning in this case, Senator Kroger's former husband, Michael Kroger, a key factional player in Melbourne for two decades.)
You can find the column here.
11.05am: Bear Grylls, a chap the Opposition leader periodically resembles, strangely in sync with the vibe of the Australian parliament.
Set myself alight for the cover shoot of Outside magazine then raged off some arrows from my hunting bow on Jay Leno Show tonight. Fun day!— Bear Grylls (@BearGrylls) May 8, 2012
11.10am: Let the hostilities begin.
Tony Abbott this morning.
Now, this Budget has been completely overshadowed by the Craig Thomson revelations.
This is a crisis of integrity for this Prime Minister and for this government. Plainly, this is a Prime Minister who doesn’t get it when it comes to political integrity. This is a Prime Minister who says she has disowned Craig Thomson but is clinging desperately, like a drowning person, to his vote in the Parliament.
10.55am: Just some quick house-keeping, because a number of Pulsers settle in and travel with me throughout the day, rather than dipping in and out.
- I will blog through the morning and through Question Time today.
- Question Time should be lively given it's the first one since new allegations surfaced about House speaker, Peter Slipper (which have seen him exit his post, for now.)
- And of course there is that 1,100 page Fair Work Australia investigation into Mr Thomson.
- Mr Thomson will now sit on the cross bench, rather than with his Labor brothers and sisters.
- So I'll cover the resumption of parliament, then we will take a break for a couple of hours to go into the Budget lock-up.
- The lock-up is where we go to learn what's in the Budget.
- No phones. No internet. No contact with the outside world. I suspect this ritual is designed to make Australia's political journalists question their will to live.
- Then we will spring back into action once the Treasurer makes his speech to the House later on.
By a whisker.
Or is it a wafer?
Mr Swan told Cabinet last night there will be a surplus in 2012-13 of $1.5 billion.
Then a surplus in 2013-14 of $2 billion.
Question is, will the backbench tolerate a tough Budget at a time when the opinion polls for Labor spell landslide for Tony Abbott. (What? We've got to go out there and sell more pain to the voters? Are you kidding?)
Labor folks say the surplus tests well in focus groups, but until all is revealed later this evening it's a hypothetical surplus isn't it?
Surplus is like motherhood. Who could possibly object?
Except if it the cuts actually impact you and your family.
Then you tend to object to surplus.
There is one constant about Budgets.
And it's "what's in this for me?"
10.20am: Professional politics is an oddly homogenising business isn't it?
Could you pick these guys apart in a line-up?
Here is Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, advancing on the door of the ministerial entrance with intent just a little while ago.
Budget day in Canberra imposes the same rituals, year in, year out.
Only the political circumstances differ.
Thanks to photographer Penny Bradfield for these shots.
10.10am: Let's kick off the day on The Pulse with Fairfax online political editor Tim Lester's breaking politics video, his morning wrap of the papers, some analysis of the two big stories: the Budget and the Craig Thomson saga.
10.00am: Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of Budget day from Parliament House.
Not a great start to Budget day for the Gillard Government.
Workplace Minister Bill Shorten's face says it all really.
Union officials, including the man who repeatedly denies the claims, Labor backbencher Craig Thomson, allegedly using members money for "the procurement of escort services."
1,100 forensic pages of a union behaving badly.
Not the best start.