Abbott And Shorten Address Parliament On Shooting Down Of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a statement to the House of Representatives on the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, and the Deputy Leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, also spoke.

“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” Abbott said. “And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

It now appears that 28 Australians were amongst the 298 people killed in the attack. Many of the passengers were due to attend an international conference on AIDS in Melbourne.

  • Watch Abbott, Shorten & Bandt (14m – transcripts below)
  • Listen to Abbott (4m)

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  • Listen to Shorten (7m)

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  • Listen to Bandt (2m)

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Statement released by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

The thoughts and prayers of all Australians today are with the families and loved ones of the Australians that have tragically been killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Our hearts go out to the families of all the dead.

At least 27 Australians citizens have lost their lives on flight MH17. Nine resided in Queensland, nine in Victoria, seven in Western Australia, one in the ACT and one in New South Wales. [Read more...]


Gloria’s Adult Sex Line, Tony Abbott’s Wink, And Politics At Its Most Trivial

Political “news” was dominated today by extensive discussion of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s wink during a talkback call on ABC Radio 774 in Melbourne.

Abbott was interviewed by Jon Faine and then took calls from listeners who mainly complained about last week’s Budget. The interview was also shown on television.

When “Gloria from Warburton”, a 67-year-old pensioner, told Abbott she worked for an adult sex line to make ends meet, the prime minister winked at Faine. “Gloria” attacked Abbott and was told by Faine to “be nice”.

Online media and social media extensively canvassed the meaning of Abbott’s wink and whether it was further evidence of his “problem with women”, his “arrogance” and general contempt for average voters.

Later, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Abbott was a “creep”. She tweeted: “Gloria tells her story of poverty and illness and the PM responds with a wink and a smirk. What a grub.”

The incident will probably come to epitomise the government’s clumsy handling of its Budget sales job. It comes days after the Nielsen poll showed the ALP leading the Coalition by 56% to 44% of the two-party-preferred vote. A Newspoll showed public opinion at 55-45. Both polls indicate the Budget is the most poorly received since 1993.

  • Listen to Abbott’s full interview with Faine (29m)

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  • Listen to Abbott’s exchange with “Gloria” (2m)

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  • Listen to Hanson-Young’s remarks during a media conference with Adam Bandt (11m)

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  • Watch the wink (2m)

Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend.

Newman said the meeting “firmly and unequivocally rejected” the Budget cuts. The political leaders demanded an urgent meeting of the Council of Australia Governments before July 1. Newman said: “Contrary to what the PM said today, there are immediate impacts to frontline services.”

He said the $180 million cut to hospitals would be felt immediately with about 1200 sub-acute beds being cut in hospitals. “There was a national partnership on preventative health – we all received letters saying that is terminated.” [Read more...]


ALP And Greens Condemn Government Over Audit Commission Report

The ALP and the Greens have both condemned the government, following today’s release of the National Commission of Audit’s report.

Shorten

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, have held a press conference in Sydney. Shorten described the Audit report as “a blueprint of Tony Abbott’s broken promise for his Budget”. He said it was a plan to put up taxes and cut services. [Read more...]


Direct Action: Greg Hunt Releases Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper

The Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, has released the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper.

Hunt

A White Paper is an official statement of government policy.

The White Paper sets out the government’s “direct action” policy and what Hunt says is a “cost effective, practical and simple approach to reduce our national emissions without a multi-billion dollar carbon tax”.

The Emissions Reduction Fund is the “centrepiece” of the government’s “efforts to tackle climate change”. Hunt says the government remains committed to the abolition of the carbon tax and a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020. [Read more...]


Government Tightens Rules On Parliamentarians’ Expenses Claims

The federal government has strengthened the rules governing parliamentarians’ expenses.

The Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, has announced that from January 1, 2014 MPs whose travel claims need adjustment will pay a 25% penalty on top of the adjustment. Mandatory training will be provided to parliamentarians and their staff if more than one claim needs adjustment within a financial year.

The government has tightened rules on travel entitlements for members’ families. It has also stipulated that overseas travel may not be taken first class. Members’ names may also be tabled in parliament if they do no “substantially comply” within a reasonable time with requests for further information.

The government will also ban MPs from employing relatives in their electorate offices. Those who currently do so have until January 1 to make alternative arrangements.

The changes have been announced just days before the new parliament meets for the first time. They follow several weeks of revelations about claims by MPs. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has repaid over $1,700 in travel and accommodation expenses he claimed for attending the weddings of Sophie Mirabella and Peter Slipper in 2006.

Adam Bandt, acting leader of the Australian Greens, said the government was only acting under pressure and its changes were the “bare minimum”. He called for an Integrity Commissioner and a parliamentary “entitlements adviser”.

Statement from the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

STRENGTHENING THE RULES GOVERNING PARLIAMENTARIANS’ BUSINESS EXPENSES

Direct contact between citizens and their elected representatives is an important part of our democracy.

The system of funding the work costs of members and senators in carrying out their responsibilities is complicated by the fact that there is no set job description for the role of a parliamentarian. As independent assessments show, a parliamentarian’s day is routinely long, busy and varied. [Read more...]


Abbott And Hunt Release Carbon Tax Repeal Legislation

The Abbott government has released an exposure draft of its carbon tax repeal legislation.

The legislation will be open for consultation until November 4, ahead of the return of Parliament on November 12.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement at a press conference in Canberra today. They reaffirmed their commitment to introducing the repeal legislation as the first item of business in the new Parliament.

Abbott-Hunt

Describing new Labor leader Bill Shorten as a “pragmatist”, Abbott said the legislation gave the ALP a last chance to “repent” for its breach of faith with the Australian community when it introduced the carbon tax. “If you are in favour of a good deal for Australian families, and a fair deal for Australian workers and jobs, this is legislation you must support.” [Read more...]