House Of Representatives
Last night the House of Representatives debated a motion to make a posthumous apology to arguably our greatest ever male sprinter Peter Norman, whose legacy is so much greater than just his feats on the track. This is an edited version of a speech to the parliament by the Member for Bennelong John Alexander.
I rise to recognise the unique contribution made by Australian athlete Peter Norman to the worlds of both sport and politics. In sport Norman’s feet did the talking, becoming the highest achieving Australian male sprinter in our nation’s history. In politics, Norman’s statement was not through the delivery of a speech but simply through the wearing of a badge.
The badge said: ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights’. The venue was the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. The year 1968 is often referred to as the year the world changed - the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; the raging of the Vietnam War; riots in Paris; industrial strikes across Europe; and uprisings in Czechoslovakia and Pakistan.
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From the time of The Punch’s launch the then-Speaker of the House of Representatives was a bit of a Punch mascot. A favourite with some of our more politically-obsessed, Question Time-viewing readers.
Harry put up with a lot. During the tedious 17-day post-election negotiations over who would form government in the hung parliament, Julia Gillard offered Harry’s job to Rob Oakeshott. To cheers Harry clung on to the Speaker’s Chair - for a while.
When the PM saw an opportunity to put Peter Slipper in the chair, thereby removing an opposition vote and shoring up her tenuous position ever so slightly, she pounced.
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We watch blokes bouncing off ropes and banging into each other in TV wrestling knowing it is a lot of fun but not much to do with wrestling.
There was the same sensation watching the House of Representatives this morning as Opposition MPs rattled locked doors and dived into advisers’ boxes to avoid being associated with Craig Thomson’s “tainted” vote.
It was a lot of fun, but didn’t have much to do with representative democracy. Craig Thomson’s vote is not tainted. It is of equal value and standing to that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. To argue that one elected representative’s vote is worth less than another is to tip the entire Westminster system on its head.
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Journalists who report on politics for a living see plenty of hypocrisy. We’re seeing plenty now from Julia Gillard.
She asserts that Peter Slipper should not be sidelined until sexual harassment allegations are dealt with by the courts because he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. It’s the same excuse the prime minister uses when she refuses to intervene in the Craig Thomson affair and says the Labor backbencher accused of grossly rorting union credit cards still has her full confidence.
Yet when Wikileaks infuriated the US Government by publishing a stack of leaked diplomatic cables, Gillard immediately accused editor-in-chief Julian Assange of acting illegally. There was no presumption of innocence for him.
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If the Australian people were faced with the prospect of this weekend’s AFL grand final not going ahead because neither team could agree on the umpire, this nation could be faced with a level of social unrest that could force East Timor to come to our aid. Fortunately this crisis only goes to whether our Parliament can sit or not so it will be fine.
With the decision by Tony Abbott not to honour parts an agreement on parliamentary reform we are still faced with a speakerless House of Representatives, and now the awkward question of whether we’ll return for Parliament next week or not.
There are a couple of things to consider about Abbott’s decision and Gillard’s reaction to it. Needless to say it’s all about concern for political hides rather than anything to do with parliamentary reform.
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Listed below are links to personal web pages for members of the Australian House of Representatives, along with their Facebook profiles, pages and groups, as well as their Twitter accounts.
The list is in alphabetical order. Some of the Facebook groups and pages have been set up by people not connected with the MPs and include fan pages. Websites marked (APH) denote MPs who had no retrievable web presence other than their contact page on the Parliament website.
The legend is:
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The Age is reporting John Grant, the car dealer at the centre of the Utegate affair, was involved in raising $32,000 to cover legal fees for Kevin Rudd. Expect the Opposition to have something to say about it during Question Time.
Today is the last QT for six weeks and both sides will be hoping to land a killer blow, or at least have the final say. Join us here from 2pm.
We’re wondering what the odds are that Turnbull rolls over and doesn’t ask one question about utegate today. Find out here and join in the live commentary from 2pm.
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It’s sure to be another dinger. Join us here today from 2pm.
There were hangovers galore in the House of Reps this afternoon, which might have explained a few MPs missing in action. We spiced it up anyway with our live coverage.
In which readers managed to get Julia Gillard to take a question. See the replay here.
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