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Archives for December 2003

Latham Announces New Shadow Ministry

The new Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, has appointed Simon Crean as Shadow Treasurer, created a new portfolio of Homeland Security and installed Stephen Smith as spokesman on Immigration.

Mark Latham, Leader of the OppositionAnnouncing his shadow ministry, Latham emphasised the need for the “protection of the physical security of all Australians”. He has appointed Robert McClelland, reportedly the final deciding vote in last Tuesday’s leadership election, to the Homeland Security portfolio, a name derived from a similar post created by President George W. Bush in the United States. [Read more…]


Costello Releases Updated Budget Outlook, Compares Bartlett With Latham

The Federal Budget surplus is projected to hit $4.6 billion this year, according to the Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Releasing the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Costello said the government expected to receive a net increase of $2 billion in tax revenues, most of this from increased company tax. Allowing for increased expenditure of $1 billion on the MedicarePlus package, pharmaceutical benefits, drought assistance and the commitment to the Solomon Islands, the budget surplus will increase from the budget forecast of $2.2 billiob to $4.6 billion.

Australia’s economic growth forecast has also been upgraded from 3.25 per cent to 3.75%, due mainly to an easing of the drought.

The Treasurer said Australia’s net debt was now $23 billion, down $73 billion since 1996. [Read more…]


Mark Latham’s Shadow Ministry

Following Simon Crean’s resignation and Mark Latham’s defeat of Kim Beazley, the following Shadow Ministry was announced. [Read more…]


Bartlett Apologises To Ferris, Public And Democrats

Senator Andrew Bartlett has made a media statement apologising to Senator Jeannie Ferris and the Australian Democrats over his behaviour in a late-night incident in the Senate chamber last week.

Bartlett, pictured holding his daughter, is bound to be criticised for using his child as a prop at the media conference. Her crying disrupted the delivery of the statement. [Read more…]


Andrew Bartlett ‘Stands Aside’ Over Drunken Incident In Senate Chamber

The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett, has ‘stood aside’ following publication of details of an incident in the Senate chamber last Thursday night (Dec 4).

BartlettIt is alleged that Bartlett abused and manhandled South Australian Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris in a dispute over wine stolen from a Liberal Party Christmas party.

The incident is likely to further damage the hapless party which has been riven by internal dissension in recent years. Bartlett took over the leadership in 2002, following the resignation of Senator Natasha Stott Despoja. Stott Despoja had in turn defeated Senator Meg Lees in a leadership challenge in 2001. In 1997 the previous leader, Cheryl Kernot, defected from the party and joined the ALP.

Recent opinion polls have put the party’s electoral support as low as 1%.

Text of statement from Senator Andrew Bartlett, published today on the party’s web-site.

Date: 6th December 2003

Statement by Senator Andrew Bartlett

This is a brief statement regarding the coverage to do with my behaviour towards Senator Jeannie Ferris.

As the letter from Senator Ferris to myself regarding the matter states, I have already apologised privately and she has accepted my apology. However, given the public commentary on the matter, it is appropriate for me to repeat that apology publicly and unconditionally.

Physical aggression is never appropriate, and regardless of any of the other circumstances surrounding the incident, it is not acceptable.

I also apologised to my Party Room colleagues and to the Australian Democrats for causing damage to our hard-won reputation.

ENDS


Text of a statement from the Australian Democrats party-room, following a phone hook-up today.

Date: 6th December 2003

Statement by the Australian Democrats’ Party Room:

The Democrats wholeheartedly endorse the unreserved apology offered by Senator Bartlett to Senator Ferris for unacceptable behaviour and emphasise that it is not in keeping with principles to which we adhere.

Senator Bartlett has requested and been granted leave and Senator Allison will be Acting Leader as of today.

Senator Bartlett will work through the issues raised by this incident and will do so in private and with the full personal support of his Democrat colleagues.

ENDS


This is the article in the Herald-Sun that broke the story.

EXCLUSIVE

Mauled by a wild MP

By Gerard McManus, Michael Harvey and Jason Frenkel

DEMOCRATS leader Andrew Bartlett mauled a female Liberal senator and hurled abuse at her during a late-night fracas over stolen wine.

A shaken Senator Jeannie Ferris was left nursing an injured upper arm after chasing Senator Bartlett, who had taken five bottles of wine from a Liberal Party Christmas barbecue in Parliament House.

The ugly altercation spilled on to the floor of the Senate chamber, where Senator Bartlett repeatedly shook Senator Ferris by the shoulder and called her a “f…ing bitch”.

Senators, including fellow Democrat Lyn Allison, watched in horror as the purple-shirted and purple-faced party leader lurched at Senator Ferris, grabbed her then hurled abuse.

Senator Ferris was deeply upset by the Thursday night incident and yesterday said her arm still ached badly.

Burly Senator Bartlett, 39, a former champion rugby player, apologised in person and in writing yesterday.

He has campaigned against violence to women.

Senator Ferris was prepared to let the matter rest until Senator Bartlett apologetically sent a card yesterday – and a single bottle of wine – wishing her a “relaxing break”.

Senator Ferris wrote back, urging the Democrats leader to seek a “treatment program”.

“There is no doubt in my mind that you were seriously under the influence of alcohol and perhaps you should consider whether a treatment program could assist you,” she said in the letter, which was also sent to Senate President Paul Calvert.

“Whilst I said to you this morning that I accept your apology – and I do – my arm remains quite sore, and I continue to be deeply offended by your behaviour.

“You clearly intended to intimidate me and were obviously angry because I had sought the return of five bottles of wine that you had taken to your office from the Coalition Christmas barbecue.

“You grabbed my arm with considerable strength and called me a `f…ing bitch’ several times. When I asked you to let go of me and tried to walk away from you, you followed me continuing to call me a “f…ing bitch”.

Senator Ferris hosted the Coalition Christmas Party and had welcomed Senator Bartlett as an unexpected guest and did not object to him joining the drinking.

But Senator Ferris decided enough was enough when she spotted the Democrats leader hightailing from the party, arms full of wine.

Liberal staff were despatched to retrieve the five bottles, but it is understood they returned with only four.

When a Senate division was called later in the night, Senators Ferris and Bartlett came face to face on the floor of the chamber and the angry confrontation ensued.

Footage of the proceedings did not pick up the incident but showed a stunned Senator Allison watching in horror.

Senator Bartlett then came into video view as he staggered across the chamber.

A spokeswoman for Senator Bartlett last night said the Democrats leader regretted his behaviour.

“Senator Bartlett said he regretted his comments to Senator Ferris and any aggressive behaviour.” she said.

“He has apologised in person and in writing yesterday morning.”

Senator Bartlett has built a career in public life on compassion towards animals and has been a strident campaigner on women’s issues.

He lashed the Federal Government for cutting funding for domestic violence programs during his Budget reply in May.

And he highlighted the role of domestic violence in homelessness at a Democrats youth conference in July, at which he also spoke of the dangers of teenage binge drinking.

Before entering Parliament in 1997, he spoke on behalf of Men Against Sexual Assault at a rally against domestic violence in Brisbane.

Preventing violence against women has been a key theme for the Democrats. Senator Bartlett’s predecessor, Natasha Stott Despoja, spoke on the issue just 12 months ago in Parliament.

Andrew Bartlett played for a champion team while representing Queensland in under-16s rugby union.

“In those days . . . he was capable of physical exertion,” his biography on the Democrats website states.


Latham’s First Major Speech To ALP: My Vision For Australia

The new Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, has delivered a speech to the Victorian ALP State Conference at the Moonee Valley racecourse.

The speech was Latham’s first public address since being elected leader of the ALP on December 2.

  • Listen to Latham’s speech (in progress – 19m)

Transcript of Opposition Leader Mark Latham’s speech to the Victorian ALP State Conference.

LathamThank you very much, thank you for your warm welcome.

To Steve Bracks; to my Deputy Leader, Jenny Macklin; to all my parliamentary colleagues, Federal and State; to all our candidates in the field working so hard; delegates and friends – it’s great to be at this Victorian Conference.

It’s a great pleasure to be here today, although I must confess that it hadn’t been in my diary until the last couple of days.

On Tuesday, I was given the honour of a lifetime, the support of my colleagues to lead the Australian Labor Party. And today I want to tell you about the things I believe in, the great things we can do together for our country. [Read more…]


John Howard’s Address At Opening Of CHOGM In Nigeria

This is Prime Minister John Howard’s speech at the opening of CHOGM.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is being held in Nigeria. [Read more…]


Mark Latham’s First Press Conference As Leader Of The ALP

This is the transcript of Mark Latham’s first press conference following his election as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, replacing Simon Crean.

  • Listen to Latham’s press conference (15m)
  • Listen to Latham’s First Question Time in the House of Representatives (62m)

Transcript of Opposition Leader Mark Latham’s first press conference.

Mark Latham, Leader of the OppositionLATHAM: Thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming along. Today the leadership of the Labor Party has moved to a new generation. A generation that has grown up aspiring to a good education in life and good health care for our children. These are the things that must be available to all Australians. These are the things I have believed in all my life, all my life. [Read more…]


Rungs Of Opportunity: Latham Outlines His Labor Philosophy

The new Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, has expressed his belief in an upwardly mobile society where people can climb the “ladder of opportunity”.

LathamAddressing the media in his first appearance since defeating Kim Beazley by 47 votes to 45, the Labor leader said he wanted the former leader, Simon Crean, to remain on the front bench. He said he wanted no resignations from the shadow ministry.

Latham returned again and again to the metaphor of the ladder during his first press conference as ALP leader. He said the trouble with Australia today was that the Howard government had “removed so many of the rungs”. He emphasised health and education as key policy areas. [Read more…]


Defeated Beazley Says He Will Stay In Parliament

11.20am – Kim Beazley, describing himself as a “committed parliamentarian”, says he will remain in Parliament, following his defeat by Mark Latham in today’s Caucus ballot.

In a gracious speech, Beazley said he was committed to making sure that the processes of Parliament work for the people.

He reiterated his concern that Australian egalitarianism and a sense of fairness was under threat and said that he knew these were issues close to the heart of the new Opposition Leader. [Read more…]