Tony Abbott once said that his written words carried more weight than his off-the-cuff utterances. This week, words of both varieties played their part.
Barnaby Joyce’s unqualified promise that under the Coalition, income tax cuts and pension increases granted to sweeten the new carbon tax would be taken back, will probably haunt the Coalition later this term assuming the Government gets its tax through.
But the coldly re-stated promise, delivered this week with all the electoral sensitivity we’ve come to expect from senators, was lost for now in the furore over a cat-calling incident.
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This week heralds another parliamentary bout of Senate Estimates. Government ministers see estimates as a necessary evil that comes with ministerial territory. Some opposition members rub their hands in glee as estimates approach. Others probably reckon they should get a life. But tragic as it may seem, estimates can be about as good as life gets in opposition.
The quaint title comes from ‘estimates’ of government expenditure being referred to Senate committees in the annual budget cycle, for opposition parties to examine the operations of government. Some public servants relish the approaching prospect of being grilled by the Senate; some see it as grist for the mill; others barely tolerate it. And some just don’t show.
This bout of Senate estimates is no different from many before – but for one thing. For the first time ever, the boss of the nation’s workplace umpire Fair Work Australia will show.
(Geoffrey Giudice is due to face Senate Estimates from approximately 10.30am today)