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.

Queen

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.

During today’s proceedings, as Black Rod summonsed members, Dennis Skinner, the 81-year-old Labour member for Bolsover, a seat he has held for 43 years, could be heard interjecting: “The Royal Mail for sale, Queen’s head privatised”. Some of Skinner’s jokes over the years can be found here.

The Queen delivers her speech from the Throne in the House of Lords. Today she was accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It was the first time she has been accompanied to a State Opening by her son and heir. As TIME magazine noted this week: “After more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning.”

The Queen’s Speech is written by the government of the day. It allows the government to outline its policies and proposed legislation for new parliamentary session.

  • Listen to the Queen’s Speech (8m)

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  • Download a UK Parliament Factsheet on the State Opening of Parliament (PDF)

Text of the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

Queen

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.

It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.

My Government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.

My Ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses. [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.

Farr

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:

Abbott

  • Tony Abbott’s media conference – May 7, 2013 (22m)

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  • The ‘calibre’ question (3m)

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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.”

Swan

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the economy had strong growth, low unemployment and contained inflation. He said there was no comparison between today’s low interest rates and the emergency rates that prevailed during the global financial crisis.

Hockey

The Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said the Reserve Bank was showing leadership and doing the “heavy lifting” for the government by responding to a deteriorating economy. He said rates were now beyond emergency levels.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan’s remarks (11m) – transcript below

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  • Listen to Joe Hockey’s remarks (6m)

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  • Listen to remarks by Peter Anderson, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (4m)

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  • Interest Rates Since 1990

Text of statement from Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 per cent, effective 8 May 2013.

The global economy is likely to record growth a little below trend this year, before picking up next year. Among the major regions, the United States continues on a path of moderate expansion and China’s growth is running at a more sustainable, but still robust, pace. Japan has announced significant new policy initiatives aimed at strengthening demand and ending deflation. The euro area remains in recession. Commodity prices have moderated a little in recent months though they remain high by historical standards.

Financial conditions internationally continue to be very accommodative, with risk spreads reduced, funding conditions for most financial institutions improved and borrowing costs for well-rated corporates and sovereigns exceptionally low. [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.

Gillard

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.

“Treasury now estimates that this reduction will increase to around $12 billion by the end of the financial year.

“This unusually low revenue, which wasn’t forecast even a few months ago, creates a significant fiscal gap over the Budget period.”

Gillard said “every reasonable option” is on the table, “even options previously taken off the table”.

The government “will not cut to the bone” in next month’s budget.

She said: “In the Budget, the Government will do the right thing by the nation, the right thing for the long-term. We will save responsibly, even when that means spending less on things which are important and valuable. We will invest wisely for the future. No one will be singled out, the burden of our decisions will be shared across the whole Australian community.”

  • Listen to Gillard’s speech (27m)

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  • Listen to Gillard answer questions (17m)

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Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to Per Capita.

It’s a great sign of the growing recognition of Per Capita’s work that your Executive Director David has been in such good company at the international Policy Network’s Progressive Governance and Global Progress conference in Denmark.

Congratulations to you on the fine contribution Per Capita is making in the world of ideas.

With the Federal Budget just fifteen days away, I thank you for this opportunity to share with you the clearest possible picture of the purpose and context of our Budget deliberations.

This year’s Budget will be about a national challenge – and a national plan.

A challenge for Australia: to respond to the huge reductions in revenue growth over the next four years.

A plan for Australia: to make necessary investments in the nation’s future, to ensure that none of our people is left behind.

Tuesday 14 May will be no old-fashioned pre-election Budget night. [Read more...]