Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the QT: Have straws, will clutch

Julie Bishop had a shocker yesterday. She is clearly the target of the Government front bench in much the same way the Libs tried to target Swan at the start of the year.

The problem is Julie Bishop thinks she is doing splendidly, and thus keeps talking: good for the Government, bad for her.

Yesterday Wayne Swan caught her out plagiarising from the Wall Street Journal. She also apparently altered in Hansard her personal explanation which she gave in Parliament on the issue after she got back to her office and found out she had actually plagiarised (it's one of those things about Parliament - it's worse to lie about plagiarising than is is to actually plagiarise).

Today she was apparently "ropeable"; which I think is code for she was stripping the paint off the walls of her office as she blamed some poor flunky.

That poor flunky was obviously given a worse punishment than cleaning out the toilets of the Liberal Party Headquarters, for it seems someone in her office was forced to go through all of Wayne Swan's speeches searching for plagiarism.

Yep, she decided to go for the old "but he did it too" primary school argument. And boy did she come up with a cracker (well no she didn't but I'm trying to build up the suspense). Before we get to that we had the Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen pretty much lacerating her over another stuff up found in her Monday's plagiarism speech. In that speech she stated:

This is a government that says it wants to promote Australia as a financial services hub and then reduces withholding tax for foreigners.

Err yes... the whole point of reducing the tax for foreigners is to get them to use Australia as a financial services hub. Julie Bishop must have skipped the chapter in Economics for Dummies which points out that when the price of something goes down people demand more of it. (At this point Turnbull must be calculating that the price of winning leadership of the Liberal Party is a bit more than he reckoned...)

After being thus shamed (but to be honest she didn't seem to grasp that she had been) Julie B strode up to the dispatch box armed with what always makes her feel good - yes, props! She help up two photocopied speeches; one off of Bowen's website dated 4 June 2008, and one from Hansard delivered by Swan on 16 June 2008. And she announced with much disgust on her part that apparently there were 8 paragraphs the same in both!!! (all of which had been nicely highlighted by previously said flunky).

Well geez... Swan slapped her down by pointing out he and Bowen are both in the Government, so it's not surprising they are using the same words (which was a good response given he had no idea what speeches she was talking about)... but there was more... Anthony Albanese got up a few questions later and pointed out that Bishop's flunky may have got Bowen's speech off his website, but Bowen had actually delivered it in Parliament when he was introducing a Tax Law Amendment Bill (ie a Treasury Bill) and that Swan's speech was given as the summation to the debate on the same Bill.

The reason the words were the same was that Bowen was actually introducing the Bill on behalf of the Treasurer - in effect reading out Swan's speech for him (who was overseas at the time).

Look, I don't want to get too dismissive of the absolute incompetence of this attack by Julie Bishop; but comparing her passing off something written by a journalist from the Wall Street Journal as her own words with Bowen and Swan using the same words in speeches on the same Bill is akin to claiming my stealing $2 off your desk to buy myself coffee is the same as you giving me $2 to buy you a coffee. But I guess a drowning Shadow Treasurer will grab a snake...

This is how bad things are for her at the moment: Simon Crean is scoring runs off her. He cited her saying in her Monday speech (again!) that because of the Howard government "the diversification of our exports has reduced the volatility of the terms of trade". It's a nice statement except for the fact, as Crean pointed out, Australia's exports didn't increase in diversification during the Howard years, and the terms of trade hasn't reduced in volatility. Oh well.

Most of QT today was admittedly pretty pointless - I mean when you have Warren Truss asking Swan why an X-series Jaguar is excluded from the increase in the luxury car tax, but "a Toyota Land Cruiser for a shearer isn't" you know things are pretty dire on the opposition's side. That he had earlier asked about farm hands and country vets getting slugged when they buy "a new Toyota Land Cruiser" leads me to think Truss must have a part-share in a Toyota dealership somewhere in his electorate.

Anthony Albanese got the line of the day award for suggesting in his attack on Bishop that when she took up the position she didn't ask for extra staff, she asked for an extra photocopier.

Underperformer of the day award goes to Julia Gillard. She did nothing wrong, but she passed up a golden opportunity. Turnbull asked her about the Government rejecting a proposal in April to increase the pension by $30 a week (it didn't but let's not let facts get in the way), and he ended by asking "Who is engaged in hypocrisy now?"

Well now, that line really deserved more than Julia gave it. She got a couple runs, when really it deserved being hit out of the grandstands. Perhaps she is holding herself back. I guess that's the problem with standing in for Rudd - she has to walk a balance between being very good, but not so good that people start thinking...

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