As Defeat Looms, Christine Milne Speaks Against Repeal Of Carbon Tax

With the repeal of the Gillard government’s carbon tax and emissions trading scheme looming over the next couple of days, the Greens leader, Senator Christine Milne, has described the move as “intergenerational theft”.

Milne

In a speech to the Senate tonight, Milne said parties were taking place around the parliament but the Liberals had misread the temperature: “Enjoy your celebrations: this is the last stand of the vanquished.” [Read more...]


Senators Sworn In; New Balance Of Power As 2013 Federal Election Finally Complete

Senators elected at last year’s federal election were sworn in this morning. The full effect of the 2013 Federal Election can now be seen in the balance of power in the upper house.

Thirty-six senators were chosen at the election on September 7, six from each State. They were sworn in during a 20-minute ceremony presided over by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

  • Watch the swearing-in ceremony (20m)

One senator, Deborah O’Neill (ALP-NSW) was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Bob Carr. O’Neill had already filled the final months of Carr’s previous term, following her defeat as the member for Robertson in the House of Representatives. [Read more...]


Greg Hunt Says Carbon Tax Set To Be Abolished But Government Will Negotiate With Palmer

The Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, says the carbon tax is now set to be abolished but the government is willing to negotiate with Clive Palmer over savings guarantees for consumers.

Hunt

Hunt held a press conference at 6.45pm tonight, an hour after Clive Palmer announced that the Palmer United Party (PUP) would support the immediate abolition of the carbon tax.

However, in response to Palmer’s call for a zero-rated emissions trading scheme, Hunt reiterated the coalition’s position. He said: “An ETS is not our policy but we haven’t seen the amendments yet. It has not been and is not our policy.” [Read more...]


Julie Bishop Treads Carefully In Reaction To Jailing Of Australian Journalist Peter Greste

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, says the Australian government is shocked by the 7-year jail sentence imposed on the Australian journalist, Peter Greste, in Egypt today.

Bishop

Greste is one of three of Qatar-based Al Jazeera journalists who have been held in prison in Egypt for over six months. They were charged with endangering national security, aiding terrorists, doctoring footage, operating without a licence, and “spreading false news”. They were specifically charged with aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, a blacklisted organisation.

Greste and a colleague were each sentenced to 7 years. A third colleague was sentence to 10 years.

Bishop said the Australian government has been pressuring the Egyptian government for months on the Greste case. She said she wanted to explore options with the Egyptian government and to work with neighbouring countries that may be able to exert influence. [Read more...]


Scott Morrison Releases Robert Cornall Report Into Manus Island And Death Of Reza Berati

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, has released the report by Robert Cornall into last February’s riot on Manus Island and the death of Reza Berati.

Morrison

The report says a Papua New Guinean man who worked for the Salvation Army led the beating that killed the Iranian asylum-seeker Reza Berati. A “brutal beating by several assailants” led to Berati’s death from a severe brain injury.

The report makes 13 recommendations. Morrison said the government would implement all of them.

The report says the violence on February 16-18 could not be attributed to any particular factor. It says frustration and anxiety about resettlement policies was one factor, aggravated by “the antagonism that had been developed between some transferees and PNG nationals employed at the centre and supporters in the local community. Some transferees treated PNG nationals employed in centre in a disrespectful and racist manner, and criticised their country”.

Statement by Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

Release of independent review of Manus disturbance

The Australian Government is committed to working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to implement the recommendations of the independent inquiry by Robert Cornall AO into the events of 16-18 February at the Manus Offshore Processing Centre (OPC), Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison said today. [Read more...]


Busting The Budget: Greens MP Condones Blocking Of Appropriation Bills By Senate

A NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has advocated a parliamentary process that could see the Senate block the government’s Appropriation Bills, a tactic not employed since the constitutional crisis of 1975 that resulted in the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

ShoebridgeShoebridge today released a paper titled: “Busting The Budget – How to Stop the Abbott Budget”. The former barrister, who has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since 2010, says the Senate could demand amendments to the Budget, as allowed under Section 53 of the Constitution.

Referring to Section 53, Shoebridge says: “In other words, the Senate can demand the Supply Bill be amended by refusing to pass it unless amendments are made. It can provide those amendments to the House of Representatives and force the Abbott government to either accept the amendments or see the budget voted down.”

Shoebridge says most functions of government would be able to continue, even if the Senate refused to pass the two Appropriation Bills. He says public servants are contracted to the Commonwealth and would receive the “necessary wages payments in due course”. He says: “The effect would be to delay the payment of public servants for the period of any impasse in the Senate.”

Shoebridge says the Senate can “choose the grounds on which to fight the budget” by refusing to agree to cuts to local government, social welfare, education, health and the environment. He says this will “force the Abbott government to either agree to these fair amendments or see its entire budget defeated with the consequential shut down of much of the government”.

What is Appropriation?

Governments cannot spend money without the approval of Parliament. Section 83 of the Constitution says that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law”. [Read more...]


Christine Milne Delivers Greens Response To Federal Budget; Pledges To Oppose Key Measures

The Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, has delivered her party’s response to this week’s federal Budget.

Speaking in the Senate, Milne committed the Greens to opposing key measures in the Budget, including changes to unemployment benefits for young people and university fees.

Milne said the Budget was written for “big-business, big miners, big polluters, big banks, who are all completely let off the hook”. She described the Budget’s spending cuts as “brutal”.

Milne said: “The Greens will stand with university students, school kids, families, pensioners, carers or the sick. We will stand with environmental campaigners, children not yet born, our precious threatened species, the places we love, and our magnificent rivers and groundwater storages. We will stand with you, against the Abbott Government. We will stand with you to kick this mob out.”

  • Listen to Milne’s speech (27m)

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  • Watch Milne (27m)

Official transcript of Senator Christine Milne’s Budget Reply speech, delivered to the Senate.

In my 25 years in politics I have seen governments and budgets come and go. Governments like that of Tasmanian liberal premier Robin Gray who cooked the books and governments like that of John Howard who engaged in gross populism. Remember his rivers of gold, manna from heaven tax cuts as he squandered the benefits of the last mining boom and his previous decision to freeze the fuel excise to win an election.

I have seen governments ignore the challenges ahead, refuse to even mention climate change or the environment just as this Abbott government is doing and play instead to comfort zones promising that if they continue to do what they had always done everything will be ok, in spite of Einstein’s great observation that you can’t solve problems with the same mentality that created them and frankly that is our problem in this parliament. [Read more...]