25th Anniversary Of Opening Of New Parliament House

Today is the 25th anniversary of the opening of Canberra’s New Parliament House on May 9, 1988.

The building was opened by the Queen. At the time, the Prime Minister was Bob Hawke and the Opposition Leader was John Howard.

The building was opened in Australia’s bicentenary year. May 9 was also the date of the first sitting of the new Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne in 1901, as well as the date in 1927 when the provisional Parliament House was opened by the Queen’s father, then the Duke of York.

Six videos of the opening of Parliament House are available by clicking on this link. They include speeches by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Opposition Leader John Howard, House Speaker Joan Child and Senate President Kerry Sibraa. There is also an interview with former Whitlam government minister Fred Daly.


Queen’s Speech At State Opening Of U.K. Parliament

Queen Elizabeth II has opened the 2012 parliamentary year in the United Kingdom’s Parliament at Westminster.

A State Opening of Parliament is the main ceremonial occasion of the parliamentary calendar. Escorted by the Household Cavalry, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. She enters the House of Lords and directs Black Rod to summon the members of the House of Commons.


Black Rod, as the chief official of the House of Lords, is ceremonially denied entry to the Commons, a practice that symbolises the independence of the Commons from the monarchy. Black Rod knocks three times on the door of the Commons chamber. When admitted, he advises the Speaker that the Queen has summonsed members to the Lords. Members then proceed to the Bar of the House and listen to the Queen’s speech. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott And Women Of Calibre: What Did He Actually Say?

In the increasingly bizarre world online, there was a minor flurry yesterday over comments by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on paid parental leave.

I came to it late in the day, some hours after the comments were made. My initial impression was that Abbott must have said something highly offensive.

For example, the News Limited website, news.com.au, told me Abbott defended his paid parental leave policy as a means of encouraging women of “calibre” to have children.


On Twitter, the article’s author, political writer Malcolm Farr, said the policy was all about getting women of calibre to “breed”:

Also on Twitter, the Finance Minister, Senator Penny Wong, was taking aim at Abbott:

Elsewhere, there was talk of Abbott’s new policy of eugenics.

Clearly, this was a major foot-in-mouth blunder by Abbott.

So I listened to what Abbott said. Here’s the full media conference and the specific question where Abbott made the “calibre” comment:


  • Tony Abbott’s media conference – May 7, 2013 (22m)
  • The ‘calibre’ question (3m)

I’m the first to admit that my command of English is pretty basic. But surely Abbott’s remark is innocuous?

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the merits of Abbott’s policy. Or do we prefer the warm inner glow of manufactured outrage?

Reserve Bank Lowers Rates To 2.75%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut its cash rate 0.25% to 2.75%, the lowest rate since the 1950s.

In a statement, Governor Glenn Stevens said the RBA’s board “judged that a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate to encourage sustainable growth in the economy, consistent with achieving the inflation target.” [Read more…]

AustralianPolitics.com To Close

AustralianPolitics.com will close shortly.

The site has been online since June 1995, nearly 18 years ago. It has operated on the current domain name for the past 12 years. It contains thousands of pages of content and routinely attracts 100,000-250,000 unique monthly visitors.

The site has grown in every year it has been online. At one point, I even hoped it would become a full-time venture. It had a bumper year in 2010 due to the federal election and other political events. This election year promised to be the site’s best yet.

However, my personal circumstances dictate that the site’s time is up. It will disappear from the web when the current hosting arrangements expire. The companion sites, WhitlamDismissal.com and Watergate.info, will also close.

It has been a labour of love maintaining the site over the years. I would like to thank everyone who visited it.

Malcolm Farnsworth

Gillard Confirms $12 Billion Budget Shortfall

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says there will be a $12 billion budget hole this financial year.


In a speech to the Per Capita think tank today, Gillard said: “The ‘bottom line for the Budget bottom line’ is this: the amount of tax revenue the Government has collected so far this financial year is already $7.5 billion less than was forecast last October. [Read more…]

Reserve Bank Leaves Interest Rate Unchanged At 3%

The Reserve Bank has left the official cash rate unchanged at 3.0%.

The decision was taken at the bank’s Board meeting today. Rates were last reduced in December 2012. During 2012, rates fell by 1.25%. This followed a reduction of 0.5% in 2011.

In a statement, the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, said: “There are a number of indications that the substantial easing of monetary policy during late 2011 and 2012 is having an expansionary effect on the economy. Further such effects can be expected to emerge over time.”

Stevens said economic growth was “close to trend over 2012, led by very large increases in capital spending in the resources sector”. The peak in resource investment is “drawing close”, he said.

Inflation is consistent with the medium-term target of 2%.

The ALP was quick to release this graphic:


Statement from Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 3.0 per cent.

Global growth is forecast to be a little below average for a time, but the downside risks appear to be reduced. While Europe remains in recession, the United States is experiencing a moderate expansion and growth in China has stabilised at a fairly robust pace. Around Asia generally, growth was dampened by the earlier slowing in China and the weakness in Europe, but again there are signs of stabilisation. Commodity prices have declined somewhat recently, but are still at historically high levels.

Internationally, financial conditions are very accommodative. Risk spreads are narrow and funding conditions for financial institutions have improved. Long-term interest rates faced by highly rated sovereigns, including Australia, remain at exceptionally low levels. Borrowing conditions for large corporations are similarly very attractive. Share prices are substantially above their low points. However, the task of putting private and public finances on sustainable paths in several major countries is far from complete. Accordingly, financial markets remain vulnerable to setbacks. [Read more…]