Politics live as citizenship questions overshadow debate on Medicare levy and media reform

Question time begins with a question from South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion who wants to know why Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is spending more time worrying about his job than the jobs of factory workers in his electorate.

Mr Turnbull is quite happy about the turn of events because it allows him to talk about “the state with the most expensive, least reliable energy in the OECD”.

Given props are a definite no-no in question time it seems unlikely Labor MP Rob Mitchell’s tin foil hat will make an appearance.

Labor MP Rob Mitchell made a tinfoil hat for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Nearly question time.

There’s a noticeable lack of energy in the building today – will it continue?

Michael Nelson Jagamara is the artist who created the mosaic on the forecourt of Parliament House.

"The Messenger" with artists Nelson Jagamara and Imants Tillers at Parliament House on Thursday.
“The Messenger” with artists Nelson Jagamara and Imants Tillers at Parliament House on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

A new addition to the Parliament House art collection – The Messenger by Michael Nelson Jagamara and Imants Tillers.

Speaker Tony Smith unveiled "The Messenger" with artists Nelson Jagamara and Imants Tillers on Thursday.
Speaker Tony Smith unveiled “The Messenger” with artists Nelson Jagamara and Imants Tillers on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

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Former UK Labour cabinet minister, Ed Balls, is in Canberra at the invitation of former treasurer Wayne Swan to talk about inequality.

Mr Balls is speaking to the National Press Club and says it is “very good to put British politics aside and come to the tranquility and stability of Australian politics”.

#shade

Former UK Labour minister, Ed Balls, and former treasurer Wayne Swan, at Parliament House on Thursday.
Former UK Labour minister, Ed Balls, and former treasurer Wayne Swan, at Parliament House on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Meanwhile, the government is refusing to release the legal advice it has regarding Mr Joyce’s citizenship.

The Senate passed an order to release the documents but Attorney-General George Brandis says no.

Senator Brandis says it is a “long-standing practice” of the successive government not to release “sensitive legal advice”.

The opposition isn’t so sure the whole Parliament should be suspended – just that it shouldn’t vote on anything.

Labor MP Tony Burke will move a motion when everyone returns (on September 4) that there should be no votes in the House of Representatives until after all the citizenship questions have been resolved by the High Court.

FYI – the High Court will hear the brace of citizenship cases on August 24.

Senator Bernardi refused to name names.

“It’s a serious allegation but it’s the truth,” Senator Bernardi said.

Senator Bernardi is suspicious of some of his colleagues. 

Fresh from saying he thinks Parliament should just be put on hold until the whole citizenship thing is sorted out (se 10.46 am post) Senator Bernardi says some MPs are outright lying.

“I can tell you that some staff members in this place tell me that they know their MP is not eligible to be here,” he told Sky News.


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This is a public service announcement regarding the same-sex marriage postal vote.

You have one more week (until Thursday 24 August) to enrol to vote or to update your details with the Australian Electoral Commission.

You can do so here.

The Age’s economic editor, Peter Martin, has been looking at just how representative the postal vote on same-sex marriage (REMEMBER THAT?) will be.

He thinks it will be okay.

“Forced to conduct a survey that its staff know will almost certainly be unreliable and possibly wrong, it has planted a time bomb,” Peter writes.

From today’s Australian Financial Review.

 Photo: David Rowe
Senator Slade Brockman (centre) with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann (left) and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash ...
Senator Slade Brockman (centre) with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann (left) and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash (right) in the Senate on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Senator Brockman used to work for Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

The new West Australian Liberal senator Slade Brockman has been sworn in.

Senator Brockman replaces Chris Back who resigned a couple of months ago.

New Liberal senator Slade Brockman with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash after he was sworn in on Thursday.
New Liberal senator Slade Brockman with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash after he was sworn in on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

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Cue Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: “I get that this must really be annoying Australians.”

“I know that in politics we can do better and we need to do better and Labor will do better.” 

Speaking of the laughable state of Australian politics, independent senator Cory Bernardi thinks Parliament should be suspended until all the constitutional stuff is sorted out.

“I believe there is only one way forward for this Parliament and that is for the Prime Minister to prorogue the parliament, [and] effectively end this session pending the outcome of the High Court, pending any by-elections that may be necessary,” he said.

Oakes signed off by saying he thinks US President Donald Trump is “mad” and the world is at a point where “we really need good political leaders and that’s why it’s so sad that we haven’t got any”.

He said he was going to give “my trusty constitution” to Barnaby Joyce “but I think it’s a bit late for Barnaby”.

Oakes says he will spend some time driving around Australia, reading crime fiction.

He ruled out coming back for election night specials saying he would be content to “watch things from afar and hurl things at the television”.

Laurie Oakes in the Nine Network studios at Parliament House.
Laurie Oakes in the Nine Network studios at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares

Oakes was less enthusiastic about the state of contemporary politics.

“I think it’s laughable,” he said.

“This stuff this week suggesting a huge conspiracy involving the New Zealand Labor Party is a foreign, as a foreign power interfering in our politics. It’s a joke. It makes Julie Bishop look stupid. It makes the Prime Minister look stupid. Poor old Barnaby Joyce looks silly over his citizenship.”

“Politicians have lost the art of politics a bit. Politicians still come in to Parliament with good intentions. They always did. But these days they seem to lack the basic skills required to be smart politicians.”
 

Laurie Oakes with then treasurer Paul Keating in 1991.
Laurie Oakes with then treasurer Paul Keating in 1991. Photo: Peter Morris

Laurie did his final cross to The Today Show earlier this morning and looked back on his multi decade career.

He said a standout moment was the night Gough Whitlam won the 1972 election, the first change of government in 23 years.

Laurie nominated various prime ministers as having been good for different reasons – Whitlam because he “fundamentally change the nation more than anybody else”, Bob Hawke because “he was a terrific chairman of committees and he had a talented cabinet” and John Howard for his “steady influence”.

Then prime minister Bob Hawke and Laurie  in 1984.
Then prime minister Bob Hawke and Laurie in 1984. Photo: Capix

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