Today was the day we were promised the Coalition would take it up to Peter Garrett. After the pathetic effort on Tuesday (one question), and the bizarre, abbreviated effort yesterday (three questions), today was the day they were going to pummel him with question after question. The only problem was that not only did we all know it, Garrett knew it as well, and so 20 minutes before Question Time he gave a ministerial statement in parliament where he outlined all the advice and correspondence on the issue of roof insulation.
It was a smart tactic. He was able to make it at the time he wanted to (not in the morning, which is when the opposition wanted him to). He finished speaking 5 minutes before Question Time, which didn’t really give the opposition much time to go through everything he had said, and also too little time to quickly re-write some of their questions – this meant it was likely that most of what they would ask would have been covered already in his statement.
And so it was. Greg Hunt asked Garrett six questions, and in not one of them did Garrett look shifty or struggling for facts. He was able to repeat parts of his ministerial statement and looked well at ease doing so. By the third question the heat of the attack had gone out, and it was clear Garrett was safe. Failing the appearance of some smoking gun showing Garrett had lied in Parliament or ignored the advice of his Department, he was safe. So bizarre was it all that Hunt’s last question was about the Auditor General doing an audit of the program. Hunt seemed to be suggesting Garrett had interfered in the process. It was a last ditch Hail Mary Pass type question that Garrett swatted away easily.
The flogging by the lettuce leaf was well and truly limp at this stage.
After a dumb question by Abbott to Rudd about something Lindsay Tanner may have said about the insulation scheme, Abbott’s last question was a warm up to a censure motion. The problem was it reeked like last season’s footy socks of a censure motion warm up. Rudd was all over it, pretty much telling Abbott to hurry up and move his censure. Rudd knew Garrett had done well enough; having to ask for his resignation was off the table.
And so Abbott did move a censure. Bizarrely though, he moved it against Rudd for not sacking Garrett. Why they did this instead of moving censure against Garrett himself, I have no idea. But then I haven’t understood much of the Liberal Party’s tactics this week.
Abbott, as he always does, got all screechy, and went way over the top suggesting Garrett would have been charged with industrial manslaughter were he the head of a public company in NSW (no idea why he picked on NSW). It was a dumb statement because it is impossible to prove –what company would Garrett be running where he is handing out rebates to other organisations to install roofing insulation? Or is he suggesting Garrett is the equivalent of the head of a roofing insulation company? If so he’s taken one apple and said hey, let’s compare it with this here orange.
The straws were well and truly clutched by this time.
So confident was Rudd that he didn’t even bother responding to the censure motion (which he did on Tuesday). He left it to Garrett, who was able to provide more information regarding the Auditor General, which made Hunt’s previous question look even more dopey. And by the time he sat down, the Liberal Party must have felt like the fools on Deal or no Deal do when they have three cases left and they choose to open the one with the $200,000 in it instead of taking the money.
They must have been sure they were going to get him. But in the absence of Garrett having done anything wrong – eg lying to Parliament – the only way they were going to claim his scalp was if he looked so incompetent in his answers during Question Time that Rudd would have to sack him just to save face. To do this the Libs really needed to have gone for his throat on Tuesday – when he would not have had a full briefing and most likely would still have been trying to gather all the correspondence together. Had they asked him 6 question then, they may have got him umming and ahhing, they may have got him saying something which he would then have to retract.
So confident were his answers today that the Libs didn’t even get to move any points of order against him. There were no moments where he slipped over words which resulted in the opposition yelling him down. In fact they were pretty quiet.
I think they knew they had lost their opportunity and today was just all for show.
In fact the best grilling Garrett got today was on the 7:30 Report. The opposition? Pah.
My hope is that today marks the day people start realising that Peter Garrett is a politician. Sure there’ll be some dopey column writers who will bemoan the ex front man of Midnight Oil is no more – and other will say he sold his soul. To them I say, grow up; Garrett obviously has, you need to as well. You want Garrett the front man? Put one of the CD’s on and enjoy. The bloke chose politics, and he chose it knowing what it meant.
Today was also a good day for the Government because the latest unemployment figures came out showing a decrease in the unemployment rate from 5.5% to 5.3%. This is nothing short of astonishing. Employment grew by 52,700 seasonally adjusted, and the participation rate remains steady.
No doubt Hockey will say this is evidence the stimulus should be wound back, which of course ignores the fact that from this quarter on the stimulus has a negative impact on GDP.
There were a few Dorothy Dixers on the figures of course. The best was done by Rudd when he brought up comments by Abbott, suggesting Australia should have followed New Zealand's lead and not going into massive debt. The only problem with that argument, as Rudd pointed out, was the New Zealand has just had 5 negative quarters of GDP growth,
Whoops. No wonder they weren’t able to nail Garrett – they can’t even get their won points right – what chance do they have of finding faults in others?
Lastly, after an answer by Nicola Roxon, Julia Gillard asked that Peter Dutton withdraw a comment he had made to Roxon (actually she asked “the current Member for Dixon”). No one had heard what he said. But so dumb is Dutton that after withdrawing the comment, he decided to use twitter to tell everyone:
telling nicola to get on her broomstick is hardly "grossly unparliamentary" as joolia claimed
Yep. This former policeman, former Minister in the Howard Government and current likely to be ex-member of Dixon thought yelling out that a woman should “get on her broomstick” and to call the Deputy PM of Australia “Joolia” instead of her actual name was witty. And not only that, he thought tweeting it so the world could see just how dumb he is was also a good idea.
And this opposition thinks it can win government?