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March 22, 2013

Australia\’s AAP claims government oversight of media not necessary

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Six media reform bills introduced last week before Australia‘s Parliament—including one proposing appointing Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA) to monitor print and online sectors&mdash were shelved by the Australian Labor Party with only one having passed before a seven week break for country’s governing body. On Monday, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) released a statement yesterday saying such oversight is not required.

Australia’s Parliament building in Canberra
Image: JJ Harrison.

The six bill media advocacy legislation package, which includes Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013, Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013, Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (News Media Diversity) Bill 2013 which includes provisions related to new media and PIMA, News Media (Self-regulation) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2013 which would require media organisations to be registered with the government to enjoy protections traditionally enjoyed by journalists and the media, News Media (Self-regulation) Bill 2013 which creates PIMA and Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013 were introduced last Thursday before the House Standing Infrastructure and Communications and the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee.

The Parliament of Australia summarized Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013 as, “Part of a package of six bills in relation to the media sector, the bill: creates the independent statutory office of the Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA); provides for the functions, appointment, and terms and conditions of PIMA; and requires an annual report to be prepared on PIMA’s activities and other specified matters.” Other bills in the package delineate what PIMA’s role would be. Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013 has its second reading today. Unlike the other bills in the package which have not had a second reading yet, this bill deals primarily with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service.

Speaking before a Senate committee about media reform, AAP chief Bruce Davidson said, “We simply do not believe that there is a problem with the conduct of the media in Australia, and certainly not that of AAP, that warrants further oversight by a minster-appointed body. […] Any hidden perception, I believe, of government interference is simply a dangerous precedent that may lead to control, may lead to interference. […] The aims may be noble, Mr Chairman, but the potential for potential misuse and changes of that legislation as presented to us, I think, is a dangerous thing to contemplate.”

Other Australian media organizations have protested the proposed legislation. Australia’s The Daily Telegraph is quoted by the Brisbane Times as saying of this legislation that it is an “aggressive attempt to silence your media.”

Former federal court judge Ray Finkelstein oversaw an inquiry into the Australian print media 2011. He told a government inquiry that, “There are no powerful groups in society that can come along to governments or anybody and say ‘we can do what we like when we like and there’s nothing you should do about it’.” Finkelstein is also on the record as stating that self regulation by the industry through their own organization has failed.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy hopes to see the media legislation packaged passed by the end of this week.



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Australian Labor Party shelves government oversight of media legislation

Australian Labor Party shelves government oversight of media legislation

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Friday, March 22, 2013

A package of six media reform bills introduced last week before Australia’s Parliament — including one proposing appointing a Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA) to monitor print and online sectors — was shelved yesterday by the Australian Labor Party, with only two passed before a seven week break for the country’s legislative body. Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, had hoped to see the legislation package passed by the end of the week.

Australia’s Parliament building in Canberra
Image: JJ Harrison.

The six-bill media advocacy legislation package, including Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013, Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013, Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (News Media Diversity) Bill 2013 which includes provisions related to news media and PIMA, News Media (Self-regulation) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2013 which would require media organisations to be registered with the government to enjoy protections traditionally enjoyed by journalists and the media, News Media (Self-regulation) Bill 2013 which creates PIMA, and Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013, were introduced Thursday February 14 before the House Standing Infrastructure and Communications and the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee.

The Parliament of Australia summarized Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013 as, “Part of a package of six bills in relation to the media sector, the bill: creates the independent statutory office of the Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA); provides for the functions, appointment, and terms and conditions of PIMA; and requires an annual report to be prepared on PIMA’s activities and other specified matters.” Other bills in the package delineate what PIMA’s role would be. Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013 and Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013 both had their second reading on Tuesday in the House and were the only bills to pass both houses of parliament. Unlike the other bills in the package which have not had a third reading before being shelved, the former bill deals primarily with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service, while the latter bill increased licensing fees for television stations.

On Monday, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) released a statement saying such government oversight is not required. Other Australian media organizations have protested the proposed legislation. Australia’s The Daily Telegraph is quoted by the Brisbane Times describing this legislation as an “aggressive attempt to silence your media.”

Speaking before a Senate committee about media reform, AAP chief Bruce Davidson said, “We simply do not believe that there is a problem with the conduct of the media in Australia, and certainly not that of AAP, that warrants further oversight by a minster-appointed body […] Any hidden perception, I believe, of government interference is simply a dangerous precedent that may lead to control, may lead to interference […] The aims may be noble, Mr Chairman, but the potential for potential misuse and changes of that legislation as presented to us, I think, is a dangerous thing to contemplate.”

Former federal court judge Ray Finkelstein oversaw an inquiry into the Australian print media in 2011. He told a government inquiry, “There are no powerful groups in society that can come along to governments or anybody and say ‘we can do what we like when we like and there’s nothing you should do about it’.” Finkelstein is also on the record as stating that self regulation by the industry through their own organization has failed.



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August 12, 2011

Australian politician Karen Overington dies aged 59

Australian politician Karen Overington dies aged 59

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Australia
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File:Kareen overington.jpg

Karen Overington in February 2011
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Former Australian Member of Parliament Karen Overington has died at the age of 59. Her death followed a long battle with ill health. Overington was the Member of Parliament for Ballarat West with the Labor Party from 1999 until she stood down in 2010. During her political career, Overington worked to improve living standards for the community’s disadvantage.

Tributes have flown in for Overington from both her political colleagues and opponents. Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu said “On behalf of the Victorian Coalition government, I express sincere condolences to family, friends and parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the Parliament, Karen was always a passionate representative of the Labor Party, the people of Ballarat and the people of Victoria.”

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews also commented: “She stood up for her community, lobbying strongly to deliver better education, health and other services that have made a real difference to families in Ballarat West.” Sharon Knight, the woman who won the parliamentary seat in Ballarat West after Overington stood down, praised her, saying, “she epitomised a real local member.”

Overington is survived by her two children.



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February 26, 2011

Opposition Leader predicts \’people\’s revolt\’ in Australia over carbon tax

Opposition Leader predicts ‘people’s revolt’ in Australia over carbon tax

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Image: MystifyMe Concert Photography .

Leader of the Federal Opposition in Australia Tony Abbott has made claims Thursday during Question Time in parliament that a ‘people’s revolt’ is looming based on the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s proposal for a 2012 carbon tax.

In what Mr. Abbott describes as a “betrayal of the Australian people”, Ms. Gillard announced Thursday that a price for carbon will be put back on the national agenda, for several years, to be followed by the formation of an emissions trading scheme. In the lead up to the 2010 Federal Australian Election, Ms. Gillard claimed that while she might implement a green house gas reduction scheme, “[she would] rule out a carbon tax”.

The price on carbon will be applied to industrial and transport emissions but will not, however, affect Australia’s agriculture.

The Prime Minister’s announcement resulted in a large portion of Question Time being devoted to the issue with a Member of the Opposition being expelled from the House for disorderly conduct. Mr. Abbot then moved to censure the Prime Minister and conclude Question Time claiming “Nothing is more fake than making a promise to the Australian people before the election and breaking it after the election … I don’t believe it’s going to happen because I think there will be a people’s revolt. They will see this as an assault on their standard of living, which is exactly what it is”.

To which the Prime Minister responded “Increasingly Australians understand that the Liberal Party, under the Leader of the Opposition, is a party of the past with no real policies or plans for the nation’s future … You get judged ultimately in this Parliament by what you decide to do and what you deliver, and on this side of the Parliament we are determined that from July 1 (2012) we will price carbon.”

The Opposition claims that the proposed carbon tax will cause petrol prices to rise by A$0.065 per litre while energy bills may increase by $300 per year.



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August 23, 2010

Australian federal election 2010: Parliament hung

Australian federal election 2010: Parliament hung

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Monday, August 23, 2010

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Australia’s parliament will be hung after this year’s federal election. With 73% of the nation wide vote counted, the governing Australian Labor Party has been confirmed to have 50.7% of the two party preferred votes, and predicted to win 73 seats in the House of Representatives, 3 short of majority.

The coalition of the Liberal and National parties has 70 secure seats and predicted to win 73 seats. This figure includes Queensland’s Liberal National Party and the Northern Territory’s Country Liberal Party, both of which are mergers of the local branches of the Liberal and National parties.

The Australian Greens have picked up their first seat at a general election in the House of Representatives. Adam Bandt is projected to become the member for the Division of Melbourne. The Greens vote in the Senate reached 12.95%, meaning 1.26 million Australians voted for the party in the upper house. Its predicted tally of nine senators will guarantee it the balance of power in the Senate.

Two days after the election, a handful of seats are still in doubt. Sky News and ABC report that three seats are in doubt, while the Australian Electoral Commission lists four.

Rob Oakeshott, a re-elected independent, told ABC Television that he and the other independents want a stable government. “If we can’t get that, let’s go back to the ballot box,” he said.

“At the launch of our campaign this morning we had representatives from the Opposition, the shadow minister for youth as well as the Greens spokesperson for youth showing that this is not about who people vote for, it’s about the fact that they’ve got the chance to vote,” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard as she launched the campaign five weeks ago.

The ALP came to power in 2007 after they won 83 seats in the House of Representatives under the leadership of Kevin Rudd. In July 2010, Rudd was replaced as leader of the ALP and as Prime Minister by Ms Gillard.

Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party of Australia in December 2009 replacing Malcolm Turnbull, who had replaced Brendan Nelson two years previously.


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  • “Australian federal election announced for August 21” — Wikinews, July 18, 2010

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June 20, 2006

Australian House of Representatives moves to affirm support for heterosexual marriage

Australian House of Representatives moves to affirm support for heterosexual marriage

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Australian House of Representatives

The Australian House of Representatives yesterday discussed as part of private Member’s business a motion moved by Michael Johnson (Australian Liberal Party, Division of Ryan) that sought to affirm and “celebrate” support for marriage “between a man and a woman” and called on the Government to “enact policies that promote and strengthen marriage”.

Speeches

Johnson discussed the earlier amendment to the Australian Marriage Act passed in 2004 that effectively removed the possibility for same-sex marriage, and continued that the failed efforts of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to provide for civil unions within that state was a matter for “grave alarm”. Johnson then argued against same-sex marriage saying that “Children come from marriage and families stem from marriage”. Johnson criticized the earlier ACT legislation that provided for the dissolution of civil unions by letter to the ACT registrar, stating, “Marriage is a lifelong commitment”. However, Johnson went on to discuss the breakdown of marriage and the status of single parents to argue, “surely we all agree that the best environment for the rearing of children is one that has both a mother and a father”.

Chris Hayes (Australian Labor Party, Division of Werriwa), took a different stance in speaking to the motion, by discussing how the Government’s new industrial relation legislation, WorkChoices, would affect the balancing of work and family life, and called for industrial legislation that would “support families into the future”.

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Same-sex marriage in Australia

Margaret May (Liberal, Division of McPherson), the seconder of the motion, recommenced arguing against same-sex marriage, calling it a “social experiment”, and went on to state, “Same sex relationships, or, indeed, unions should not have the same status as a marriage between a man and a woman”. May concluded her speech by calling for support to “services to assist children, young people and adults and to continue sustaining safe, supportive and nurturing family relationships”.

John Murphy (Labor, Division of Lowe) also affirmed support for heterosexual marriage, by stating, “Marriage is a natural bond between man and woman, recognized in the vast majority of cultures, whether Christian or otherwise”, and added, “nature ordains the natural procreative function of man and woman”. Murphy also addressed the amendments to the Marriage Act, saying, “this definition is the only valid recognition of our civil laws, which correctly reflects the natural law and moral law”, adding, “You do not even have to believe in anything to draw that conclusion.” Murphy however stated in conclusion of his speech, “we are all let down by those who … mask their support for marriage and who employ it as a weapon to attack the many other relationships in our society. Such attacks are unconscionable, unnecessary and unjustified.”

Michael Ferguson (Liberal, Division of Bass) reiterated points raised by those before him, but also mentioned the issue of discrimination, saying, “there is different treatment under the law for different relationships. But this is not about dicscrimination against the indivdual and it is not designed to be.” Ferguson continued to say, “As individual people, homosexual men and women have exactly the same legal rights as you or I”.

Craig Emerson (Labor, Division of Rankin) quoted a House Committee report To have and to hold — strategies to strengthen marriage and relationships, saying that the report was bipartisan and added, “the issue of marriage does enjoy bipartisan support in this parliament”, and reiterated Labor’s support for the Marriage Amendment, which excluded the possibility for same-sex marriage. Emerson concluded his remarks by again tying the impact of the WorkChoices to family life.

Further debate

No other members of parliament spoke against or criticised the motion before debate was interrupted.

Interestingly, the Australian Senate is yet to debate a motion moved by the Australian Democrats in order to repeal the Marriage Amendment discussed and institute same-sex marriage. The Australian Greens are also supportive of same-sex marriage, but neither of these parties hold seats in the House.



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Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Same-sex marriage in Australia

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  • Australian House of Representatives. “Hansard” —  June 19, 2006
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June 1, 2006

Australian House of Representatives has \”no rules\”: Gillard

Australian House of Representatives has “no rules”: Gillard

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Australian House of Representatives descended into rows between opposition and government members today

The Australian Labor Party has accused speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, David Hawker (Liberal, Wannon) of failing to be impartial.

During question time today, opposition leader, Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand) asked the government to confirm comments made by Cameron Thompson (Liberal, Blair), which asked for Prime Minister John Howard (Liberal, Bennelong) to explain his role in the failed merger of the Nationals and Liberals in Queensland. According to Mr Beazley, Mr Thompson claims that the president of the Liberal party in Queensland was appointed by Mr Howard and that his actions would have been known and agreed upon by the Prime Minister.

The house’s speaker refused to allow Mr Beazley to debate his question claiming it was not relevant. Mr Beazley argued that his question directly related to Mr Howard in his capacity as Prime Minister and to disallow his question was “shutting down accountability”.

The opposition’s next woe came when Stephen Smith (Labor, Perth) asked the Prime Minister to confirm accusations that the government’s new industrial relations laws (called Workchoices) had placed pressure on the low pay commission to lower the minimum wage of Australian workers. Mr Howard took the opportunity to attack Mr Beazley’s role as Minister for Employment, Education and Training in 1993 saying that he had contempt for the unemployed.

Anthony Albanese (Labor, Grayndler) raised a point of order, claiming that the Prime Minister’s answer was irrelevant. This was refused by the speaker, who said that Mr Howard was attempting to answer a “lengthy question”. Mr Albanese then interrupted Mr Howard as he was continuing his attack on Mr Beazley telling the speaker that the question was very specific and that Mr Howard’s answer was irrelevant. Mr Albanese was ordered to resume his seat, and when he failed to do so was ordered out of the house.

Following Mr Albanese’s ejection, Mr Smith argued that the Prime Minister was not answering his question before also being ordered out of the house by the speaker. As Mr Howard began to continue his answer, Julia Irwin (Labor, Fowler) interrupted Mr Howard. Mrs Irwin was then ordered to leave the house.

The opposition found itself another member short in the house after Julia Gillard (Labor, Lalor) was removed for calling Health Minister Tony Abbott (Liberal, Warringah) an “idiot”. Ms Gillard’s comment followed Mr Abbott tabling a document written by Medibank Private relating to a media campaign to counter negative views on its sale. Part of the document claimed that Medibank Private had “established a hypothetical but possible scenario: Julia Gillard arguing that the sale will mean higher premiums”.

Mr Abbott joked that “Medibank Private sure know the member for Lalor (Julia Gillard)”.

It was Ms Gillard’s second ejection in two days. She was removed from the house yesterday for calling Mr Abbott a “snivelling grub”, the same term Mr Abbott labeled an opposition MP last week without being removed.

Following the house’s question time, Mr Abbott and Peter Costello (Liberal, Higgins) accused Lindsay Tanner (Labor, Melbourne), Wayne Swan (Labor, Lilley) and Kim Wilkey (Labor, Swan) of deliberately blocking a camera’s view of Mr Howard during one of his answers. Mr Tanner said “It’s not our fault he’s short” and Mr Wilkie said that he never raised from his chair and that Mr Abbott needed to “get his facts straight”.

Following her removal, Ms Gillard told reporters that speaker of the house, Mr Hawker had double standards. “We’ve reached a stage … where there are no rules in the House of Representatives,” Ms Gillard said.

“Four Opposition members were tossed out of Parliament today. I don’t think anybody watching question time could say that’s a fair result.”

“We’ve seen double standards in operation all week” she said.

She said that it was not unusual for people to walk around the chamber and talk to each other during question while government members were speaking.

“At the end of the day there is wandering around and chatter in question time,” she said.

“But why is that? Because the quality of what’s coming off the government front bench doesn’t bear listening to” she said.

Sources

  • Maria Hawthorne, David Crawshaw and Melissa Polimeni. “Gillard thrown out again” — The Daily Telegraph, June 1, 2006
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May 11, 2006

Australian Parliament hears reply to Budget

Australian Parliament hears reply to Budget

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley

The Australian House of Representatives heard the traditional right-of-reply to the Budget released May 9, from the Australian Labor Party, led by Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand), plus Budget replies from minor parties in the Australian Senate.

While the Budget is politically popular, having as one of its main features significant tax reform, Beazley focused on the omissions in the Budget, such as the failure to address a skills shortage.

Opposition reply

Beazley opened by stating that “This budget fails middle Australia and mortgages our kids’ future”, and continued by stating that “after ten long years, they deserve a break” from the Howard Government.

Beazley introduced the key idea of his Budget reply by speaking directly to middle Australia, “Tonight I seek a binding agreement between us… Australia is counting on you to do the next round of heavy lifting… relying on you to drive a new wave of economic prosperity… under a Beazley labor government, when you put in, you get back”.

Beazley contrasted that idea by criticising the Treasurer, saying that after five budgets without a decent tax break, which was affected already by “soaring petrol prices”, likening him to a poker machine with a payout of only “ten bucks”.

Beazley’s commented solicited applause from the galleries, and continued sporadically through his reply, which focused on five points:

  1. new childcare centres at school, giving “parents the incentive to work without killing family life”, and announced 200 million dollars for new childcare centres, placed “where childcare shortages mean they’re needed most”.
  2. students shouldn’t have to pay for training in trades, and pledged to “get rid of tafe fees for traditional trades”, to “train Australians first, train Australians now”. Beazley announced payments of “AUD$800 per year for up to four years to apprentices”, “AUD$1200 per year for up to two years for childcare workers”, and a payment of AUD$2000 to students on the completion of their trade.
  3. no unfair dismissals. Beazley reiterated his plan to “tear up this government’s extreme industrial relations laws” and to put in place a new system “to protect working Australians”, “protecting both sides”, and “resolving claims”
  4. no foreign apprentices: “three hundred thousand Australians have been turned away from tafe” and Beazley would “abolish foreign apprenticeship visas”
  5. real broadband: Beazley announced under a Labor government, he would “invest in a joint venture with telecommunications companies to build a super-fast computer network” and bring Australia’s networking up to world standards.

Beazley also announced the founding of an independent expert body on infrastructure, and a “Building Australia” fund to invest in infrastructure.

In his conclusion, he stated his “unshakable faith in the Australian people”, and criticised the Government’s failure to “deal with climate change now”, the Government’s mishandling of foreign debt, rising up to “half a trillion dollars” — Beazley likened Costello to Wile. E. Coyote, with an anvil about to drop on his head.

Beazley welcomed the tax cuts, but noted the influence of rising oil prices and student debt. Beazley also noted that he would not have spent the money on the Iraq war and would not have paid money to Saddam’s regime, referring to the AWB scandal.

Beazley’s speech ended in further applause.

Minor parties

Australian Democrats

Senator Lyn Allison (Australian Democrats, Victoria), the Leader of the Democrats, was the first to speak in the Senate on the Budget.

Allison stated that the Budget was developed through the eyes of “political strategists” and was developed with “little interest in the social, economic, and environmental mess left behind”.

Allison criticised the Government, stating that “manufacturing can’t compete against cheap imports”, criticised size of the trade deficit and foreign debt, noted the lack of the Budget to address high petrol prices, noted that bankruptcies are at their highest, and high household debt, saying that “you won’t read about them in this budget”.

Allison argued that “surplus should have been invested in the future”, to address climate change, student debt which was “burdening generations with personal debt”, and strongly criticised the Government in regard to its failure to fund education, saying it was “an act of vandalism”.

Allison said that the Budget was a Budget “for buying votes, not for the long-term future of the nation”.

Allison continued to describe how the Government had lost its environmental credentials, stating that the “environment in much better hands when the Democrats held the balance of power”.

Allison responded to the Budget allowances for transport infrastructure, saying that the Budget “ignoring public transport” and that freeway funding was not sustainable.

Allison argued that the income tax cuts introduced in the Budget were “rewarding those on the highest incomes the most”. In response to the mental health provisions in the Budget, she stated that more must be done on mental health, smoking, obesity related disease, and said that the Treasurer’s “generosity was not extended to the PBS“.

She noted how the Government was “cynically failing indigenous Australians”, describing a Government scheme of an assistance payment to indigenous Australians which was based on attendance at schools, and that the Government had revised the total amount of payment downward based on the expectations that indigenous Australians will not attend schools.

Ellison concluded by stating that “The Democrats are committed to what we know to be the priorities for a sustainable future for all Australians, well beyond a Costello next decade and most definitely beyond the next election.”

Australian Greens

Senator Christine Milne (Tasmania, Australian Greens) presented the Australian Greens budget reply speech.

She begun by describing how the Howard Government had said they had “delivered rivers of gold and manna from heaven”, and that the Budget message was such that “people were prompted to rejoice and be glad to spend, spend, spend”.

Milne went on to say that Australia had become “two nations…one that is fixated on the present and cannot see what the problem is and the other that can see the problem and the huge risks for our children, grandchildren and future generations.”

Milne noted that the capacity of the environment to provide and fuel economic growth by traditional means “is in doubt”. She went on to criticse the squandering of a “a minerals boom which has delivered corporate profits to the Treasury”, stating that the money should have been spent on “nation-building”.

Milne went on to criticise Australia’s interest in nuclear power and criticised Australia’s export of uranium, and noted the impact of salinity and climate change, and called for the establishment of a “climate change disaster fund”.

Milne responded to the AusLink funding proposed by the Government Budget, by also criticising the lack of development in public transport. Milne also echoed Ellison’s criticism of the Government’s treatment of its indigenous population, stating “If we cannot address Aboriginal disadvantage in an economic boom time, when can we address it?”

Milne concluded by stating “the Greens’ vision for Australia and the values we hold mean we would not squander the surplus on a spending spree. We do not support the tax cuts or superannuation windfall for high-income earners.” and reiterated the points of view that the Greens felt needed addressing.

Family First

Stephen Fielding (South Australia, Family First Party) was the final Senator to speak on the Budget in the Senate.

He criticised the lack of support for low and middle income earners, stating “The government claims this is a budget for families, but the big winners are the high-income earners”, and reiterated his earlier calls for reduction in fuel price by “10c a litre”.

Fielding noted that Family First supported the fact that more families would receive benefits, but called for a greater increase in the benefit rather than “the child-care rebate, which only goes to parents of children attending formal child care”.

Fielding concluded by noting that “Families do benefit from this budget and will welcome it. But, for the average Australian family, this budget will not be the bonanza the government would like us all to believe it is.”

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • ABC NewsRadio broadcasts of Parliament, May 11, 2006.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, May 11, 2006.
  • Australian Senate Hansard, May 11, 2006.
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March 30, 2006

Australian MPs exchange fighting words over healthcare rebate

Australian MPs exchange fighting words over healthcare rebate

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fighting words were exchanged in the Australian House of Representatives over the matter of the division of Medicare safety net payments per electorate. The Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott (Liberal, Warringah) had introduced a policy that the Government would pay Medicare users up to a fixed amount — the safety net — to help in addressing “gaps” in certain payments which Medicare would not cover, such as certain hospital payments. The Opposition was opposed to the idea on efficacy counts.

Abbott was asked a Dorothy Dixer in Question Time today about the benefits of the safety net. He alleged that criticism by the Opposition Health spokeswoman Julia Gillard (Labor, Lalor) that the safety net favoured Liberal/National Party coalition electorates was misleading as it was a Labor electorate, Grayndler that received the “highest safety net benefits per electorate”.

This led Gillard to make a personal explanation after Question Time, stating that “the top four electorates receiving money under the Medicare safety net are Wentworth, North Sydney, Bradfield and Warringah” — all coalition electorates. The Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand), put a question to the Speaker of the House, David Hawker (Liberal, Wannon) asking of the Speaker his “assurance that no person is being deliberately misled by the actions of any other person”.

Abbott had then interjected towards Beazley, saying “You big bellowing cow”; the Speaker asked Abbott to withdraw, but Abbott mentioned that “the Leader of the Opposition regularly interjects ‘pompous ass’ and ‘goose’, but I am happy to withdraw”. Beazley then responded through the Speaker saying of Abbott, “I think that he is a sleazy, dummy-spitting, little git.”

Abbott then made a personal explanation of his own, saying “The safety net benefit per person in the electorate of the member for Grayndler was $591, the highest in New South Wales…the safety net benefit in the electorate of Sydney was $589, the second highest…the benefit in the electorate of Lowe was $458, the third highest”.

The matter was not further raised at the time, but after the Matter of Public Importance debate, Gillard moved a motion to suspend standing orders which would prevent Abbott from explaining his earlier claim “when this claim is totally untrue”, to correct the “grossly inaccurate and misleading statement”, to “apologise to all Members in this place” and to “apologize to the Member for Grayndler and his constituents”. Gillard also listed the amounts of payments “released by the Minister himself”, that Wentworth received $7.8 million, North Sydney received $7.5 million, Bradfield received $6.9 million, Warringah received $6.3 million; whereas Grayndler received only $3.6 million. She attempted to debate the motion but a gag motion to silence Gillard was moved and won because of Government numbers. Anthony Albanese, the Labor member for Grayndler attempted to second the motion but the gag was moved on him as well. The final vote on the motion was lost 55 to 79.

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, March 29, 2006.



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March 29, 2006

Australian House of Representatives acknowledges Cyclone Larry efforts

Australian House of Representatives acknowledges Cyclone Larry efforts

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 The Australian House of Representatives today acknowledged the impact of the recent devastating Cyclone Larry and the efforts of the support given to the residents and communities of north Queensland in order to restore normal life.

Phillip Ruddock (Liberal, Berowra) moved a motion expressing this after Question Time today, which included a description of the devastation wrought on the area, the response by the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force, and thanked the efforts of people for their “willingness to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job of cleaning up and rebuilding their towns and centres.”

The Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand) supported the motion, and congratulated the move to put General Peter Cosgrove in charge of operations, stating that soldiers “know how to work through logistics issues…how to work around officialdom or blockages”, praised both local federal and state members of Parliament, and especially the Labor Queensland state premier, Peter Beattie.

Bob Katter (Independent, Kennedy) was more critical in his speech. Katter thanked Beattie for his immediate response, but also described his confrontation with him and said how first responses were “simply not working”, but also praised Beattie’s decision on Cosgrove. Katter also described how the incident was “the worst natural disaster in Australian history” and how the banana industry in north Queensland was decimated. Katter went on to describe the financial problems of the people in the region, the “huge gap” between the cost of rebuilding and insurance payouts, also asking “Are we going to pay people virtually nothing to sit on their backsides to do nothing or are we going to pay them a decent wage and have them rebuilding our communities for us?”

The debate is set to continue in the Main Committee, as an opportunity for many more members of the House of Representatives to speak to the motion, without taking up further time in the Chamber.

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard, March 28, 2006.
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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