Condolence Motions Make For Heartfelt Start To Parliament

Proceedings in the House of Representatives got off to a prickly start today with the government goading the ALP during condolence motions for Arthur Gietzelt and Ariel Sharon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the tone when he moved a motion of condolence for the former Senator Gietzelt who died on January 5 at the age of 93.

Abbott

During his speech, Abbott said: “He was a lion of the Labor Party—or at least he always asserted that he was a lion of the Labor Party and of no other party.” The Labor benches bristled at the comment and as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose to speak a voice could be heard describing Abbott as a “low dog”.

Abbott’s comment was a reference to allegations in documents released by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIO) that claimed Gietzelt had communist connections during his time as a member of the ALP. Gietzelt served as a minister in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1987.

Following the Gietzelt condolence, Abbott moved a second condolence motion for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who died on January 11 after spending eight years in a permanent vegetative state following a stroke in 2006. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to the motion, as did Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek.

After the speeches, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, associated himself with what he called “the genuine and heartfelt remarks” by Abbott, Bishop and Shorten, “and the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition benches bristled again, with the comment assumed to refer to a statement made by Tanya Plibersek in the House on September 17, 2002, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. She said: “…I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders. The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies. It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.” [Read more...]


Government Backflips On School Funding; 4-Year Agreement With $1.2 Billion Restored

The federal government has announced a school funding agreement with the states that maintains the four-year agreements entered into by the Labor government and restoring $1.2 billion removed from the Budget Estimates prior to the election.

Abbott-Pyne

The government’s backflip was announced just before today’s Question Time at a joint press conference by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne. It follows days of criticism from state governments and lobby groups after last week’s announcement that the Gonski funding deals would be abandoned after 2014.

School funding will now be $2.8 billion over the next four years. It includes $1.2 billion cut from the forward estimates after Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory failed to reach agreements with the Gillard and Rudd governments.

  • Listen to Abbott and Pyne – transcript below (23m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Watch Abbott (1m)

Joint press release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

A FAIRER FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR SCHOOLS

Following negotiations with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the Government has secured a national agreement on school funding.

The Coalition is committed to ensuring a fairer funding arrangement for schools nationally, whether a deal was signed with the former Labor government or not.

We will restore the $1.2 billion funding cut by Labor – bringing total additional school funding over the next four years to $2.8 billion – ensuring no State or Territory misses out. [Read more...]


Education Ministers Speak Out On Pyne’s School Funding Announcement

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s state counterparts have criticised Pyne’s decision to pull out of the Gillard government’s Gonski school funding agreements.

The ministers spoke to the media after meeting with Pyne today. They included NSW minister Adrian Piccoli who has led the criticism of Pyne. The Australian Education Union’s Angelos Gavrielatos and parents’ organisations also weighed in on the announcement.

Ministers

  • Listen to the Education Ministers (32m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Pyne Abandons Gonski School Funding Agreements; New Arrangements After 2014

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has confirmed that the government will honour school funding commitments of the previous government for 2014 but will implement a new funding model after that.

Pyne

Pyne was quizzed about the government’s abandonment of its commitment to the previous Labor government’s school funding agreements at a press conference today.

Pyne described the situation it inherited as “Shorten’s shambles”. He said the government will abandon an “incomprehensible mess” and implement a new funding model that will be “flatter” and “simpler”.

No government could bind a future government to

  • Listen to Pyne’s press conference (22m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Official transcript of Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s press conference.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: …the unfortunate revelation that the previous government when Mr Shorten was the education minister cut $1.2 billion from the school funding envelope for the next four years. In the economic statement of 2 August 2013 the Government – which was the political document released by the Treasurer Mr Bowen – the Government revealed on page 57 that treatment of payments for non-participating states and territories was NFP which stands for not for publication. We’ve got other names for it as well, but not for publication – NFP. [Read more...]


Kevin Rudd Resigns From Parliament

Kevin Rudd has announced to the House of Representatives that he is resigning his seat of Griffith immediately.

Rudd

Rudd made a 15-minute statement to the House just after 8pm tonight. Towards the end of his sometimes tearful speech, he urged parliamentarians “to be gentle with each other”. He concluded with one more iteration of “got to zip”.

Fulsome tributes were then paid by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Remarks were also made by Joe Hockey, Anthony Albanese, Christopher Pyne, Chris Bowen, Malcolm Turnbull, Tanya Plibersek and Bronwyn Bishop. [Read more...]


Subtlety Lost: Craig Emerson On The Australian Media

The Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, has written an opinion piece criticising coverage by the Australian media of recent political controversies.

EmersonEmerson focuses on the Gillard-AWU issue and the issues surrounding the sexual harassment case brought by James Ashby against Peter Slipper. He is especially critical of coverage by the News Limited papers, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.

Emerson also directs his fire at Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne.

Of the media overall, Emerson says: “I am not asserting there is a general bias in the media. Some editors and a few journalists are blatantly biased. That has always been the case. But the real problem is the abandonment of professional standards to give effect to that bias. All subtlety is lost.”

Text of an opinion piece by the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson.

Subtlety lost

At Sydney University in the early 1970s a course simply called “Government” was offered to economics, arts and law students. It was a time of social upheaval and the election of the Whitlam Government had ended 23 years of conservative rule. The Murdoch press had backed a change of government.

My tutor in Government, Lex Watson, a gay rights activist, had set us a task: to identify bias in the media. But as left-wing as Lex was, the six-week project wasn’t about left versus right, it was about the techniques used by the print media to slant a story to suit an editorial position. [Read more...]


Graham Perrett Refers Slipper Conspiracy Allegations To Federal Police

Graham Perrett, the federal Labor member for Moreton, has referred information from the Federal Court decision on the Peter Slipper-James Ashby sexual harassment case to the Australian Federal Police.

In his letter, Perrett says Mal Brough, Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop, Mark McArdle, James Ashby and Karen Doane “may have committed criminal offences in relation to their participation in a political conspiracy designed to harm the Honourable Peter Slipper MP and the Federal Government”.

[Read more...]