Politics live: March 2, 2012
Welcome to our live coverage of politics from the national capital. All times in AEDST. You can also follow me on Twitter @murpharoo
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4.30pm: Well Pulsers, that was a day.
Actually, that was a week.
There is no better way to bid you good night than with photographer Andrew Meares' Quotetoon for this evening.
Here is Bob Carr, the new Foreign Minister designate.
"I am a natural Senator."
It was the quote of the day.
Events willing, the Pulse will catch her breath now while Parliament rises for a week.
We'll be back when the circus resumes on March 13.
It's been a huge week for us, and I want to thank my colleagues in Canberra, and my two co-conspirators in Project Pulse, Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen.
But my biggest thank you is to the readers.
You have come on board with such enthusiasm. We are grateful.
See you all again soon.
4.15pm: NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell was kinder today about Bob Carr than Tony Abbott.
And he supplied a picture of a bookcase, (possibly involved in a collision with a mug owned by Bob Carr.)
whatever else people might say about Bob Carr's appointment, no-one can deny his depth of knowledge of the portfolio— Barry O'Farrell (@barryofarrell) March 2, 2012
cld this be the damage to the L40 bookcase mentioned by Bob Carr?(The rest appear to be old blood stains). twitter.com/barryofarrell/…— Barry O'Farrell (@barryofarrell) March 2, 2012
4.01pm: Mr McClelland called the matter as he saw it.
"There are consequences."
3.50pm: BREAKING: ROBERT MCCLELLAND SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE TO SERVE AS THE MEMBER FOR BARTON.
He backed Kevin Rudd in the leadership ballot.
"When we stand on a matter of principle, there are always consequences."
He says today's Cabinet appointments have merit.
"In the very brief discussion I had with the Prime Minister, she indicated I had gone further than others in my support for Kevin Rudd."
He says his interventions in the leadership ballot were motivated by the unseemly tone of the attacks on Kevin Rudd.
He thanks the Prime Minister for her recognition of his service.
He outlines his achievements in his portfolios.
The former Attorney-General praises the courts and points to progress in family law reform and native title.
"Political life has its down moments. If I can offer a gratuitous tip, work with those who are helping the homeless."
Puts things in perspective.
He thanks public servants, and his political staff.
"Nothing of this nature can be achieved without the support of my family."
He's going to continue to serve.
"I've got plenty of fuel in the juice."
3.30pm: Coming up shortly, Robert McClelland.
3.15pm: And Bob Brown likes the notion of more media regulation, a la Finkelstein.
Bob Brown: "The Greens are very pleased with the recommendation that a News Media Council be established to set journalistic standards for the news media in consultation with the industry, and handle complaints made by the public when those standards are breached."
"We applaud the government for enabling this very important inquiry outcome. The report vindicates the Greens’ push for a media inquiry and we look forward to action by the government in the public interest, this year. This is a good strong outcome for both the media and the public interest in Australia."
3.10pm: Defence has its compensations I suppose.
2.52pm: Here's Tony Abbott's view.
Labor's answer to the NSW factional disease is to bring to Canberra the man who started it all, Bob Carr.— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) March 2, 2012
Aside from the partisanship inherent in this remark, factionalism it is an interesting element of this transaction.
NSW prevails over Victoria.
2.50pm: Now, I've got a plane to catch.
2.45pm: "There's no need to shout."
Stephen Smith on the doors of the House of Representatives just a moment ago.
2.40pm: Stephen Smith says it's all good.
He welcomes Bob Carr to the Foreign Ministry.
"The allocation of portfolios is entirely a matter for the Prime Minister."
"After the distractions of the last few weeks I am happy to be getting on with the job."
"The Prime Minister has made her decisions today. I'm very happy with the announcements. She's made her judgments and announcements today and I am entirely happy with those."
"There are no entitlements in public life. I have no entitlement to be disappointed."
2.35pm: Stephen Smith (we'll resist calling him The Biggest Loser) is holding a press conference in a moment.
In the meantime, here is Michelle Grattan's analysis.
"Bob Carr is a good name for Julia Gillard to have on her team, but what a saga to get him there. On Monday she wooed him, on Tuesday she rejected him, largely because Stephen Smith, who had first claim on the foreign ministry, was unhappy. Carr said in a statement he was not coming to Canberra. Then Wednesday was excruciating, as Gillard denied all. The PM looked weak; Smith looked like a spoiler. Something had to be done. By Thursday it was all on again. When the formal offer was finally made late that morning, Carr says he was incapable of saying ''no''.
2.25pm: Here's our breaking news story on Finkelstein from my colleague Bianca Hall.
I confess I'm disapppointed the inquiry only seems to have glanced at the issue of new policy to ensure quality journalism remains viable in the future.
Finkelstein seems to have concluded it's too soon to draw firm conclusions in that space.
He wants the Productivity Commission to look at this question.
It's not too soon in my view.
Big debates happening in the United States about this.
Pity to miss that boat.
2.15pm: Coming up in a little bit.
Robert McClelland is giving a press conference in Sydney at 3.30pm. Has been considering his future after relegation to cheap seats.— Annabel Crabb (@annabelcrabb) March 2, 2012
2.10pm: Friends, Romans, countrymen ..
2.05pm: I'll come back to Finkelstein, but first, here's the SMH's Phillip Coorey's analysis on the ministry.
"Julia Gillard has turned disaster into a stunning victory and, in doing so, has reasserted the authority the party only renewed in her on Monday. Because until Gillard salvaged the situation, the Bob Carr offer was dead and Gillard’s leadership was again being spoken about. Carr himself admitted it at the press conference today when asked, in his mind, was the offer that was first put to him on Monday, dead."
If keen, you can read him here.
2.01pm: Bloggers are caught in the new regulatory net if their site gets 15,000 hits per year.
1.56pm: Media outlets will be required to publish apologies and corrections.
People wronged will have rights of reply:
- An important change to the status quo is that, in appropriate cases, the News Media Council should have power to require a news media outlet to publish an apology, correction or retraction, or afford a person a right to reply. This is in line with the ideals contained in existing ethical codes but in practice often difficult to obtain.
1.55pm: The new body gets government funding, not industry funding, and its decisions are binding:
- The News Media Council should have secure funding from government and its decisions made binding, but beyond that government should have no role. The establishment of a council is not about increasing the power of government or about imposing some form of censorship.
1.50pm: And the second substantive recommendation:
- The News Media Council cover online news for the first time. It will replace the voluntary Australian Press Council with a statutory entity. In an era of media convergence, the mandate of regulatory agencies should be defined by function rather than by medium. Where many publishers transmit the same story on different platforms it is logical that there be one regulatory regime covering them all.
1.45pm: Now for Finkelstein and his inquiry into the media.
Here's the first recommendation:
- A new body, a News Media Council, be established to set journalistic standards for the news media in consultation with the industry, and handle complaints made by the public when those standards are breached. Those standards will likely be substantially the same as those that presently apply and which all profess to embrace.
Bob Carr's wikipedia entry was already updated while the press conf was going on (I checked it about half way thru ...) bit.ly/wnhb9b— Lyndal Curtis (@lyndalcurtis) March 2, 2012
1.25pm: Labor's Richard Marles isn't letting his new colleague arrive without a warm welcome.
Congratulations to Bob Carr on his new role as Australia's Foreign Minister. It will be an honour to serve with him.— Richard Marles (@RichardMarlesMP) March 2, 2012
1.21pm: Happy. Little. Vegemites.
1.15pm: And we'll take this as confirmation that it's been quite the week in politics.
Labor's national secretary George Wright:
How do you like those apples!?— george wright (@wrightgb) March 2, 2012
1.10pm: Meanwhile, because we didn't have enough content for today.
The report of the Media Inquiry has been released: dbcde.gov.au/digital_econom….— Matthew Ricketson (@MRicketson) March 2, 2012
1.06pm: Let's just step back from the razzle dazzle here though for a minute or two.
What has the Prime Minister done?
Brought a man to Canberra with clarion communications skills and natural authority. Someone who will attract focus and attention away from her. Someone with whom she will now be constantly compared.
She's sent a strong signal to people who backed her leadership over Kevin Rudd that she intends to take it from here. Thanks very much indeed.
That's some roll of the dice for this Prime Minister.
Particularly if Robert McClelland decides to declare enough enough.
1.03pm: Don't mind my pointy elbow, Stephen Smith, Simon Crean, et al.
12.55pm: Have I got a surprise for you.
12.50pm: Ok, over to you.
Who is more pleased with themselves right now?
12.45pm: Mr Carr says he has no designs on the Labor leadership.
He says the more he sees of Ms Gillard, the more impressed he is.
"She asked me to serve my country and I would have been incapable of saying no."
12.41pm: Of Robert McClelland, reportedly considering his political future - Ms Gillard suggests he'll stick.
Robert is a great Labor man, from a great Labor family, the Prime Minister says.
(Translation: Good Labor men don't do the dirty on the party.)
12.40pm: Cabinet colleagues who rallied to keep the Prime Minister in the Labor leadership, and who opposed Carr for Canberra, must be delighted with the days events.
With this Prime Minister who has decided to show them who is boss.
A genuine show-stopper from Ms Gillard.
12.35pm: Bob Carr on Ms Gillard and her choice: "In the end, it's the leader who cuts through."
12.32pm: Bob Carr on the portfolio: "I want to praise Kevin Rudd's achievements."
Of his new, elevated status in the red chamber: "I think I'm a natural senator."
Ms Gillard said she finalised her thinking yesterday, and made an offer.
12.30pm: Bob Carr says he intends to pursue the Australian Government's bid for the security council seat.
He says he intends to be like one of those ancient US Senators.
One of the venerables.
A politician who never retires.
(The Prime Minister may like to bear this in mind).
12.28pm: Julia Gillard:
"The decisions I have made are about merit, about the strongest possible team."
12.24pm: Here is the guts of the Prime Minister's statement:
- Bob Carr will join the Senate, and will take on the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs. Until he takes his place in the Senate, Craig Emerson will continue to act as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
- Craig Emerson will also take on an expanded role of Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, paying particular attention to increasing Australia’s international economic competitiveness, with a focus on the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
- Brendan O’Connor moves into Cabinet to take the position of Minister for Small Business, as well as Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Small businesses are central to Australia’s economy and deserve Cabinet-level representation.
- Attorney-General Nicola Roxon will take on the additional portfolio of Emergency Management, which as I have made clear I believe must be a Cabinet-level appointment.
- Tony Burke will take on the additional role of Vice-President of the Executive Council.
- Kate Lundy is promoted to Minister for Sport and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, as well as Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation.
- David Bradbury is promoted to the Ministry as Assistant Treasurer, and in the newly-created position of Minister Assisting for Deregulation.
- Jason Clare will take on the additional portfolio of Minister for Defence Materiel.
- Kim Carr will move to the crucial services delivery portfolio of Human Services. Minister Greg Combet will continue to be responsible for manufacturing at a Cabinet level.
"I wish to thank Robert McClelland for his many years of service in the Ministry."
Parliamentary Secretary changes
- Jan McLucas will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in addition to her existing duties, and Richard Marles will assume wider responsibilities with the additional title of Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
- Bernie Ripoll becomes Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, while Sharon Bird becomes Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills.
- Jacinta Collins will become Manager of Government Business in the Senate following Mark Arbib’s retirement.
"I want to thank all Ministers who have served the Government so well in their current portfolios."
12.21pm: Bob Carr: "I couldn't say no."
12.20pm: Craig Emerson has expanded trade.
Kate Lundy is in the ministry.
David Bradbury is in the ministry as Assistant Treasurer.
Jason Clare has Defence Material.
Kim Carr goes to Human Services.
Greg Combet gets manufacturing.
Robert McClelland goes to the backbench.
12.15pm: Here's the Prime Minister.
With Bob Carr.
He's coming to the Senate, and will be Foreign Minister.
Noon: Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce her ministry in ten minutes.
11.55am: BREAKING: ROBERT McCLELLAND CONSIDERS POLITICAL FUTURE.
From Sunday Age political editor Misha Schubert on The National Times.
"Robert McClelland has told colleagues that he is consulting family before deciding his political future after being told he'll be dumped from cabinet, raising the spectre of a byelection in his Sydney seat of Barton.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to announce her reshuffle shortly, with a new line-up sparked by the resignation of Kevin Rudd as foreign minister last week. Senator Mark Arbib's portfolios are also up for grabs after his shock resignation from politics in the wake of Monday's leadership ballot."
Robert McClelland has told colleagues he's consulting family before deciding his political future: tinyurl.com/8y6ac4p— Misha Schubert (@mishaschubert) March 2, 2012
11.51am: Mr Abbott is unhappy about Mr Swan's remarks on the miners.
Greens leader Bob Brown has a different view.
This from my colleague David Wroe, who went to a press conference from Senator Brown before.
Senator Brown shares Wayne Swan’s diagnosis that the influence of money is a ‘‘poison’’ to the national debate, even going as far as to compare the likes of Clive Palmer, Twiggy Forrest and Gina Rinehart to Russian oligarchs.
‘‘We have to be careful that we don’t end up like Russia, with oligarchs running he country,’’ Senator Brown has said at a morning press conference in Canberra.
‘‘We’re in great danger of that. I’m a democrat. I believe in a fair go in this country and that’s what the Treasurer is talking about.’’
Senator Brown’s assessment is that while the ALP is hamstrung by its relations with the rich and mighty, a greater influence for the Greens would give Mr Swan more room to take swings at Australia’s own oligarchs.
His prescription? More power to the Greens.
11.50am: Meanwhile, the ABC's Latika Bourke has her eye on Tony Abbott.
Oppn will introduce a private members bill to restore the Solar Hot Water rebate scheme until the end of the financial yr.— Latika Bourke(@latikambourke) March 2, 2012
11.45am: The main points from Mr Albanese's statement just now.
- The 3,000-page report makes a range of recommendations for action in three areas: to allow Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to operate to its full operational capacity, to protect and expand the role of other airports in the Sydney region, and to identify the site for a new airport to meet long-term growth.
- There is no doubt there are difficult issues to resolve but the report is clear on the cost of delaying action.
- Spare landing and take-off slots are already limited in the peak hours – by 2015 Sydney Airport will be severely constrained at peak times and by around 2030 no new growth will be possible.
- The Committee does not support any change to the curfew and also points out that with the airport already close to capacity, increasing the cap in peak hours would only buy as little as a year.
- I have already made it clear that the Federal Government will not make any changes to the current cap or curfew.
- We will also maintain the current protections for regional airlines and Bankstown Airport will not be developed as Sydney’s second airport.
- Further, I have consistently stated that the Government has ruled out the use of the Badgerys Creek site as a second airport and that remains our position.
- The Federal Government will now commence consideration of the Committee’s recommendations.
11.30am: Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is meanwhile about to release a report about a second Sydney Airport.
My colleague from The Sydney Morning Herald, Jake Saulwick, had the news break this morning.
And he's at the event.
Oh, we have an exec summary now. Says additional airport needed by 'around 2030'— Jake Saulwick (@JakeSaulwick) March 2, 2012
11.15am: Anytime now.
11.10am: Here is US comedian Stephen Colbert speaking about the so-called "super PACs" in the US - third party groups active in the presidential primaries.
Colbert's comedy has done a great deal to focus public attention on this issue in America.
The following is a wonderfully absurb discussion about who controls his super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
10.45am: Perhaps Mr Swan could start with pondering Recommendation 24 of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters' inquiry into the funding of political parties and election campaigns.
"The Committee recommends that the Australian Government investigate options for restricting or capping third party political expenditure."
(If you are keen on this debate, have a look at their report, tabled last December, here.)
This would, of course, require support from the Coalition.
So far, this debate has been held hostage by a stand-off between the major parties.
The Liberals say they haven't seen a coherent agenda from Labor in this space.
But the Liberals showed their contempt for the whole discussion by failing to lodge a submission to last year's inquiry until well after the due date.
10.30am: Clive Palmer, quoted in The Australian Financial Review this morning.
"It is obvious from Mr Swan's comments that he feels he has a responsibility to workers at the exclusion of all other Australians, and that clearly explains his poor performace as Treasurer."
Reader David Sanderson isn't buying Mr Palmer's rebuttal (or Liberal Christopher Pyne's for that matter)..
@murpharoo A legitimate debate. Calling it "class warfare" or the "politics of envy" as Pyne did is just juvenile.— David Sanderson (@dizzylimit) March 1, 2012
10.05am: Clubs lobbying against pokie machine reform is actually an excellent case study to consider when we ponder the rise of vested interests.
The usual response to calls for more regulation to prevent third parties abusing their power in public policy debates is the free speech defence.
It's a free country. We (James Packer, Clubs Australia etc) can say exactly as we like.
The problem with this argument is the losers from gambling addiction don't have the same resources to mount a public campaign defending their interests.
We've highlighted on the Pulse this week a fightback from a coalition called Stop the Loss.
It's a really good campaign, assisted by the talents of advertising guru Neil Lawrence.
But Stop the Loss are at least 12 months behind the clubs.
The battle in Canberra has already been waged, and lost.
So is the relevant criteria here free speech or fair speech?
The rise of third party interest campaigns is one of the biggest issues confronting professional politics. Here, in the United States, everywhere,
I welcome Mr Swan bringing on this debate.
But if he brings it on, he should be prepared to follow through with some action.
9.55am: As we were saying.
Where do we draw the boundaries if we are debating the pernicious influence of vested interests?
9.50am: And how about the clubs, and the gaming interests staring down poker machine reform?
Does the Treasurer believe they are threat to rational policy making as well?
Or only rich miners?
9.40am: Very good point about disclosure raised by the ABC's Sabra Lane this morning in her interview with Mr Swan.
Here's this morning's news story by my colleague Dylan Welch on a push-back by Labor and the Coalition concerning the registration and disclosure of lobbyists.
- The 2008 regulations (regarding lobbyists) forced so-called consultant lobbyists - people or firms that lobbied on behalf of companies - to record all meetings with ministers.
- There are 934 recorded on the register.
- But the Greens said it needed to go further to include the 4000 company employees who met federal politicians to lobby on behalf of their company.
- The Greens also sought to expand the regulations so they covered all 150 members of parliament, not just ministers.
- Labor and the Coalition rejected both suggestions.
- The report rejected scrutinising the in-house lobbyists because ''it would result in a significant increase in administrative requirements for both lobbyists and government''
9.30am: And Pulse readers continue to express interest in the Swan essay.
This contribution from a reader:
"There's a telling juxtaposition on the front page of The Australian this morning.
There's a story down page one: Swan says the wealthy pursue their vested interests in league with the media.
Then the main page one story: Exclusive! Miners warn jobs at risk if ports have to pay fees to dump sludge in Great Barrier Reef.
Is this unintentional irony on the part of The Australian?
As Wayne Swan might say: "I rest my case."
9.20am: Wayne Swan is not the only Labor essayist doing the rounds this morning.
Bob Carr, the man who would have been the Foreign Minister, (but for a bunch of bad and clumsy stuff we still don't entirely comprehend), has taken to the keyboard for The Australian Financial Review this morning.
Of course it's an interesting read.
Here's Mr Carr on leadership, and rising to the "improvisational challenge":
- In World War I and in the Cold War, the Labor Party had leadership that could not rise to the improvisational challenge. Those leaders, Billy Hughes and H V Evatt, could not surmount the contradictions, bridge the divisions and invent new issues that might have united a muddle-headed party.
- The splits of 1917 and 1955 were a failure of leadership. But there have also been Labor leaders in the past who have been able to invest new agendas. Whitlam laid out a program of national health insurance and funding for schools based on needs. It supplanted Cold War divisions and the myth of bank nationalisation.
- Bob Hawke’s personalised leadership held the party together for an economic reform agenda, while the same issues split the Left off from New Zealand Labour.
- Paul Keating, by elevating economic modernisation, native title and the Republic, showed the zest with which leadership can craft new conversation.
- Neville Wran by force of personality was able to send a message to country and city about NSW Labor: moderate, fiscally responsible, responsive to its working class base but open to new ideas of anti-discrimination and environmental protection.
- It was nimble-footed leadership in both cases and it worked a treat.
- Forget theory and improvise. Inventive leadership shaping public discussion, entertaining and enlarging the national debate is probably the best we’ve got. That’s my view anyway. Then I’m inclined to see things the leader’s way.
9.10am: And, from the horses mouth.
(There's a #fairgo hashtag?)
9.06am: Opposition leader Tony Abbott is off to install a Rheem.
He's off to a Rheem factory in Rydalmere, presumably to highlight the Gillard Government's decision this week to close down solar rebates.
9.05am: More thoughts from readers on Wayne Swan.
@murpharoo On "class warfare"/"politics of envy", I defer to Buffett (paraphrased): There's a class war alright, and my class is winning.— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 1, 2012
9.00am: Happy. Little. Vegemite.
Well, sort of.
8.45am: Word is the Prime Minister has spared Rudd backers Martin Ferguson and Chris Bowen, which is the most sensible course.
Kim Carr is tipped to remain in the outer ministry, but could wash up with a different portfolio than manufacturing.
Poor old Robert McClelland, despite carefully outlining his work priorities for the next 12 months in the House of Representatives the other day, (and being one of the most pleasant people in politics you'll ever meet), may have dropped off the Cabinet twig.
Here's the news wrap from The Sydney Morning Herald's Phillip Coorey.
8.40am: Of course coming up later is Julia Gillard's new ministry. We expect that announcement late morning to lunchtime.
And the Finkelstein report on print media regulation.
That report will mean more regulation for the Australian print media.
I have absolutely no doubt about it.
Question is how much more, and on what basis?
8.30am: Take that Clive Palmer: you and your football league.
(Mixed feedback on Twitter thus far. Agreement. Qualified agreement. One person suggests this talk belongs in Venezuela. Keep them coming, I'm interested).
8.20am: Peter Brent sees cause and effect in play, or perhaps chickens and eggs.
Why do vested interests seek influence?
Does Swanny understand that market research-addicted govts who retreat at the whiff of grapeshot encourage campaigns by vested interests?— Peter Brent (@mumbletwits) March 1, 2012
8.10am: Good morning and welcome.
Treasurer Wayne Swan has hit the airwaves early to promote a new essay he's penned for The Monthly about the threats vested interests pose to rational policy debate.
Mr Swan's essay argues as part of addressing the economic challenges facing the country "we must fight a pitched battle against the influence of vested interests that seek to shape public policy to their own excessive benefit and at the expense of our middle class society."
This morning on ABC Radio Mr Swan says he wrote the essay because the "fair go" was at grave risk.
"I hope we have a very significant national conversation about this. We need a debate about political and economic power in this country."
When a few individuals try and monopolise the public debate, deploy lobbyists and shock jocks to amplify their cause, then it's time to call enough, Mr Swan says.
"The voices of ordinary Australians ought to be heard."
Mr Swan is particularly scathing about mining magnates Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart.
"Politicians have a choice between standing up for workers and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers," Mr Swan says in The Monthly.
Don't these people have a right to express their views, the ABC's Sabra Lane asked?
And if you are so hot-to-trot on the influence of lobbyists, why did you reject a Greens push to tighten the disclosure requirements?
Mr Swan says Labor introduced the lobbyists register.