Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the QT: Shakespeare and Demidenko

Today was a significant day in Australian politics: it was the first day a woman has acted as PM in Question Time. Julia Gillard gives the impression she has been waiting to sit in the big chair all her life, and she took to the role with ease.

The theme of the day was pensions and why the Government shouldn't support the Liberal's Bill to raise the single aged (and belatedly, thanks to Laurie Oakes, the single veterans) pension by $30 a week.

But really the day, like the Bill, was all about theatre.

Turnbull gave Julia a nice warm up delivery asking her if she still stood by her statement that it was impossible to live on the single aged pension.

Before she stood up those on the Government Front Bench were calling out to Turnbull as the Merchant of Venice (in reference to Albanese's nice quip yesterday). Joe Hockey talking before thinking called out at Julia that she was Lady Macbeth; which allowed Julia's first words as acting-PM to be "And we can always count on the Member for North Sydney (Hockey) to play The Fool as usual".

[Note to self - never heckle Julia Gillard.]

Yesterday on ABC radio Julie Bishop made the ultimate bad start as shadow treasurer when she got the RBA cash interest rate wrong. Given the way Costello and Howard slathered over Rudd getting the tax rates wrong last year, it was not surprising to see Swan get up and absolutely skewer Julie today.

This was probably Swan's best day (and to be honest, he's had a few good ones of late). Now I actually think he was actually kinder to Bishop than he needed to be - he could have pointed out that members of her side had given her the Homer Simpson defence - for eg Barnaby Joyce pointed out "It's her first day in the job...". Senator Eric Abetz concurred: ""She's very new in the job."

And also all those damn numbers are a problem - I mean how is one to remember the number 7? Here's a tip for you Julie - think of it like it's Bingo, except your Bingo call will be "7, lucky for some unless you took out a mortgage just prior to 10 interest rate rises in a row"

Swan then moved onto the next bumbler of the day, Malcolm Turnbull, who this morning on Fran Kelly was asked what football teams he supported. Swan read out his answer verbatim complete with arrrs and ummms (and verbatim I shall quote it as well):

"I have to confess I vote for, I arrr I, I support, in ummm Australian Rules the Roosters, who of course aren't in the Grand Final"

Kelly quickly pointed out they were in the NRL, and Turnbull equally quickly recovered and continues, "yes I meant the Swans in the AFL, and the Roosters in Sydney in rugby league which are, of course, the Eastern Suburbs Rugby League Club which is right next door to my (Bondi Junction electorate) office in fact.''

Look I'll give him the benefit of the doubt - he probably does support the Swans in the AFL - though I'll wager he's more a Rugby Union lad than League. But still Swan did well with the material he was given. He followed up by saying that next we could expect Turnbull "to congratulate Ricky Ponting on winning the Brownlow Medal".

Which gets my line of the day award.

Lindsay Tanner was up next with a Dorothy (it was the type of QT where the questions from the opposition were pretty much irrelevant, as they were all very close variations on the same question on pensions) and he had more fun with Julie's inability to remember big numbers (well numbers over 5 at any rate).

He sighed and remarked "he was already nostalgic for the Member for Bradfield" (Nelson), of whom say what you like "but he knew a good statistic when he saw one". Tanner said Nelson would have known the RBA cash rate rate - "in fact he probably knows the interest rate and bond issue of Uzbekistan as well".

At this point Nelson smiled broadly, nodded his head and pretty much joined in on the joke with Tanner, no doubt absolutely loving that his former Deputy who last week voted against him (yes loyal to the almost end) was getting splayed.

After another question to Julia on pensions, Turnbull got to his feet and started to move that Standing Orders be suspended so he could talk about pensions. Unfortunately for him, the Speaker had already given the call to a Government backbencher. After much argy bargy (mostly from the Member for Argy Bargy Joe Hockey) Turnbull sat down, and Swan was asked another Dorothy. And what a good thing it was that is was asked.

Swan pointed out he had listened to Julia Bishop's response to a Ministerial Statement on the financial crisis yesterday in Parliament and his ears picked up when he heard her say regarding the US Government rescue package:

"The proposal would give the Treasury Secretary significant leeway and flexibility in buying, selling and holding residential or commercial mortgages as well as any securities, obligations or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages. Among the things the US government is asking for is the authority to hire asset managers to oversee the buying of assets. "

Swan told Parliament those words sounded familiar. And sure enough he had seen them before - in the Wall Street Journal. On September 20, Deborah Solomon wrote:

"The proposal would give the Treasury Secretary significant leeway and flexibility in buying, selling and holding residential or commercial mortgages as well as any securities, obligations or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages.” The article also said: "Among the things the US government is asking for is the authority to hire asset managers to oversee the buying of assets."

While there's nothing wrong with quoting the Wall Street Journal, common practice anywhere outside of Primary school is to acknowledge your source, not claim the words as your own.

Swan with glee branded Bishop as the Minister for Plagiarism, and then added, "She's the Helen Demidenko of Australian Politics".

Yep, it's taken a few months, but Swan is now having fun in Question Time - he has finally worked out that in Parliament, as in life, "the play's the thing".

1 comment:

Big Cuz said...

how about updating your flick of the flick thumbnail picture thingo to the rock?