Julia Gillard today announced celebrated athlete Nova Peris would be the ALP’s first indigenous representative in Federal Parliament. Peris, who is not a member of the Labor Party, will be parachuted into the number one spot on the ALP Senate ticket in the Northern Territory, much to the disgust of the woman who currently holds that position, Trish Crossin.
The PM was unapologetic about dumping Crossin, who has been in the Senate for 15 years, describing Peris as a “captain’s pick”.
Gillard simultaneously declared her support for party processes, while exclaiming she was “troubled” the ALP had so far failed to send and Indigenous Australian to Parliament. After all, 42 years have passed since the Coalition selected Neville Bonner as the first Indigenous Federal Representative.
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Tony Abbott’s slim hopes of scrapping Julia Gillard’s carbon tax without having to call another election have been undermined by the backlash against Cory Bernardi.
And in an ironic twist, the big winner could be the determinedly pro-gay marriage Greens’ senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Senator Bernardi, the Liberals’ number one on his state’s Senate ticket, was relegated to the backbench on Wednesday after suggesting that by allowing same sex couples to marry we were entering a slippery slope towards legalised polygamy and even sex with animals – assuming some “creepy people” get their way that is.
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Queen Elizabeth turned 80 on April 21, 2006, but a magnificent gift from Australia which taxpayers helped fund has yet to reach the birthday girl.
In fact it is 2224 days late for the celebrations and it seems it might never be delivered, even as the Queen now prepares for her Diamond Jubilee at age 86.
The present is a state coach—specifically State Coach Britannia—lovingly built by Sydney craftsman Jim Frecklington with the help of a $245,000 grant from the Coalition government of John Howard, a Senate estimates committee was told yesterday.
For the past two years media writers have spent a lot of time examining whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a journalist.
The Walkley Foundation proclaimed him one by bestowing a big award for his contribution to journalism, but then gave him an open platform to bash the Prime Minister. The Brits gave him the 2011 Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, saying Wikileaks’s “goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism.”
Jonathan Holmes was torn. Marc A. Thiessen on the Washington Post was not. Others have pointed out the title of “journalist” is one of the few things standing between Assange and the wrong end of a United States Grand Jury.
When Bob Carr prepared for a recent television appearance he stood in the middle of a room and loudly declaimed slabs of Shakespeare. Other guests for that evening’s edition of the ABC’s Q&A quietly continued munching their Turkish wraps and sipped drinks as the rich Carr baritone set sail on a chunk of Hamlet.
He was warming up that voice, long so distinctive in Australian politics. Bob Carr knows that drab politics, like drab TV, don’t get god ratings. He believes in theatre to sell a message and the Senate today will benefit from that.
Young Robbie, as Paul Keating used to call the man who now is an elder Labor statesman, this morning was preparing to be sworn in as a senator, and as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
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You’ve put a price on carbon and stumped up $13 billion dollars for renewable energy. It doesn’t sound very hard when you say it quickly.
Actually, it has been excruciatingly hard. Is there anyone who isn’t completely sick and tired of the whole debate?
From the moment Tony Abbott got the leadership, he and his dogged faction of supporters in the media have been biting and snarling at anyone associated with climate action. As Laurie Oakes wrote of Mr Abbott recently, “His style is pure attack dog, as feral as you’d get.”
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It is customary for new Members and Senators to use part of their first speech to give some account of their careers before their election. Despite my entreaties that new Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon address her past, she used the usual dodge of whinging that critics were reviving a ‘new McCarthyism’.
Prior to her speech, there has been a battle going on at Wikipedia about her political history. Ever since April a number of people have been trying to write a full, honest and properly referenced account of Senator Rhiannon’s political career prior to 1990 when she joined the Greens. All those efforts have been thwarted by a person called Chris Maltby, who has systematically deleted her political history prior to 1990, by suppressing any version of the Wikipedia article which might be embarrassing to Senator Rhiannon.
So what are the facts about Senator Rhiannon’s past that the NSW Greens and Mr Maltby are so keen to stop you reading?
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It’s hard to wipe your bum if you have no hands. It’s hard to win at marbles when you only have one eye. And it’s pretty hard to work as a farmer when you have no legs.
Seems pretty wacky, but this is the reality of living in a country beset with bombs dropped by our coalition partners over thirty years ago.
I’ve just returned from working in Laos with UNICEF and was shocked to learn of the ongoing problems Australia has played a part in creating. I was even more shocked to think that Australia wants to continue to be involved in such a brutal manner of war.
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Next Wednesday night Nick Xenophon will host a party where, as per Greek tradition, guests will be invited to drink, eat and smash lots of plates.
This will symbolise Xenophon’s shattered hold on the Senate balance of power, and mark what he says is his increased irrelevance.
Former balance of power co-holder Steve Fielding has left the Upper House, and the Greens will have arrived in record numbers, ready to do Green business.
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Greens leader Bob Brown has just delivered one of the sledges of the campaign during his address to the National Press Club - saying “I do have a vision for Australia and I won’t be consulting the phone book to refine it.”
That vision turned out to be a long grab-bag style list of issues Brown says the Greens will push if they get the balance of power in the Senate.
Of obtaining that balance of power he seemed very confident. Brown started his speech recounting some of the many messages of support he says he’s received, quoting people who’ve never voted Green before pledging to do so this time.
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In an attempt to claim respectability and to convince voters that they are no longer a haven for aged hippies, eco-terrorists, pot smokers and socialists the Greens are keen to present themselves as politically mainstream and moderate.
Candidates are groomed and well dressed, Bob Brown plays the role of the elder statesman above the sordid business of doing preference deals with the ALP and politically risky polices related to gay marriage, legalising drugs and abortion on demand are downplayed in favour of saving whales, preserving old growth forests and ending junk food ads.
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Last week’s Senate inquiry into the private member’s bill, the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010, was only allowed to run with the credence and terms of reference of a broad ranging review of the tax exempt status for all charities and religions in Australia.
A very different story became apparent when questioning began. It was heavily slanted with witnesses against one religion under the guise of a tax inquiry.
Senator Doug Cameron notably kept his questions on track and asked intelligent, direct and reasoned questions.
But despite repeated reassurances by Liberal Senator Alan Eggleston as the inquiry Chair that “the behaviour of specific individuals and organisations is not within the terms of reference of this committee”, five former Scientologists were invited by Senator Xenophon to appear before the committee where they, to put it colloquially, dumped a bucket on the Church.
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Listed below are links to personal web pages for members of the Australian Senate, 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 Senators but include official fan pages. Websites marked (APH) denote Senators who had no significant web presence retrievable other than their contact page on the Parliament website.
The legend is:
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Governments of either persuasion don’t like it when they don’t get their own way in the Senate.
However, in recent days the Rudd government has taken the levels of whingeing, moaning and sulking about so called ‘Senate obstruction’ to new levels. No doubt this is all part of a deliberate pre-election strategy, seeking to justify the government’s failings and perhaps even the need for a double dissolution election.
No less than five senior Ministers fronted a press conference last week accusing the Senate of the worst obstruction in 30 years, while the Prime Minister shouted ‘get out of our way’.
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Some years ago the BBC produced a brilliant documentary series about the House of Lords which chronicled the strange existence of those hereditary peers who by dint of their birth had wound up being underemployed for life in this absurd parliamentary chamber.
There was one chap aged only in his 30s who was not only completely loaded, he was also completely smashed, living in the rundown country estate his late father had left to him where the only functioning room appeared to be the cellar. Every morning he would wake up, put on his tweed trousers and a silly cravat, and start working his way through bottle after bottle of 1950s French burgundy. His face was dotted with burst capillaries and he sat in his comfy chair like that Uncle Monty from Withnail and I, rabbitting about how one felt a sense of duty in maintaining one’s family traditions by serving as a Lord.
It now seems that even the Brits have realised their Upper House is an elitist anachronism and a waste of money.
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Sitting on our Immigration Minister’s desk is an application for ministerial intervention; an application that if not approved will send two young Kenyan women back to their homeland and into the hands of a barbaric fate.
What awaits Grace, 22, and Teresia, 21, is genital mutilation. While outlawed around the world, it still exists in their homeland – an act involving a knife, 10 men holding them to the ground and another 30 looking on. So horrific, that death is not unusual (and for those who do survive female genital mutilation, it does irreparable harm).
If they refuse mutilation, they will be murdered.
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One in six people in this country will encounter problems conceiving and need medical assistance to have a child.
It’s a startling figure and it probably explains why most of us know someone who has struggled to start or add to a family.
In the past there was little that could be done for these couples, but thankfully science has provided options that many only dreamed of previously. Sadly it seems the Government is about to take those options away from many Australians.
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Make no mistake about it. The battle to preserve Australia’s mix of public and private health care will be joined in earnest this week.
At stake is a worsening of the shaky health of our public hospitals.
At stake also is a direct cost impact for almost half the population who have private health insurance and an indirect, or delayed, impact on those who rely on public hospitals for treatment.
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Gene patents are at the intersection of cutting edge technology, modern commerce and human ethics. And recently the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee has taken evidence as part of their inquiry into gene patents.
Over the last two decades around the world patents have been granted over isolated gene sequences for which a practical and useful application has been identified.
More often than not the practical application is a test for diagnosing a condition that the inventor has shown is associated with the gene.
Last night the Senate voted in favour of referring Senator Eric Abetz to a special committee over his role in the Utegate affair and things are about to get a bit awkward for all parties involved.
For starters a fellow Liberal Senator George Brandis will be in charge of the inquiry, which is bound to make people wonder whether this is going to be a fair dinkum examination of Abetz’s role in the fake email/Utegate/OzCar affair.
On the other side, Labor Senators on the privileges committee that will be questioning Abetz’s role in the shonky Godwin Grech testimony (specifically his handling of the email and whether it was a manipulation of the Senate committee) will have to be pretty careful about who and what they start demanding from the Liberal Senator - especially if it comes to calling public servants and journalists in front of the committee.
The most baffling aspect to the entire debate surrounding the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is how so many who agree on a problem can be so divided about the best solution.
With the exception of a few mavericks in the Nationals and the Liberals and one lone Senator from Family First, parliament accepts that the scientific debate is over.
Anthropogenic climate change presents us with the most pressing and complex policy problem humankind has faced. Ever. And personally, I can’t help wondering what planet climate change denialists are living on.
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In his first appearance on The Punch, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd blogs on climate change. This piece also appears on his new blog at www.pm.gov.au.
I decided to kick off my blogging career with a focus on climate change. The latest scientific research on climate change confirms our worst fears. Climate change is happening faster than we previously thought, creating a more serious threat to our economy, our environment and to future generations.
I recently returned from a meeting of leaders of the world’s major developed and developing countries in Italy, where our discussions focused on our global efforts to tackle climate change.
This meeting - the Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy – made some important progress. In particular, it recognised the clear message from climate science that the increase in global average temperature must not exceed 2°C.
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Climate change is real. Yes that’s right, contrary to the misreporting in the media, I do believe in climate change.
That might come as a shock to some of those on the left side of politics, but it’s the truth.
The question that concerns me, however, is what is driving it? Is it increasing levels of human made carbon dioxide emissions, variations in solar radiation or something else?
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Rightly or wrongly the Senate is currently standing in the way of a chunk of the Rudd Government’s agenda.
But after Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young suffered what she said was the most “humiliating moment” of her life last night, its been agreed the Senate will debate on Monday the rules over children being allowed into the Chamber. Taxpayer dollars at work.
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