Today due to some SNAFU with Foxtel IQ I was unable to record Question Time. This may or may not have been a blessing, because from what I can gather through the media, not much was missed.
The big story seems to be that Chris Pyne took umbrage against Julia Gillard referring to the opposition as “climate change deniers”.
“I think the words being used by the Prime Minister would be regarded as offensive words. We all know the connotation the Prime Minister is trying to bring about by using the word 'denier'. We know she's trying to allude to the holocaust. It is offensive and it must stop."
Harry Jenkins responded by saying he was drawing a pretty long unparliamentary bow. Pyne however would not be dissuaded, and so on the high horse he got:
"Mr Speaker, with 18 years in this place I don't think anybody would accuse me of making light of the holocaust or any issue to do with the state of Israel. I was 11 years as chairman of the parliamentary friendship group on Israel. I make the connection between climate change denier and holocaust denier. I find it offensive and I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition finds it offensive. In that spirit I would ask you to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it."
Except here’s the thing. Since 2007, ALP members have used the phrase “climate change deniers” 32 times, and yet Pyne hasn’t felt the need to get all aggrieved by it once. Take this back in March 2009, when Peter Garret used it:
As the Prime Minister just said to the House, as we are one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australian jobs will be hit hardest and fastest by climate change. So we need to act; we need to grow jobs in clean, low-pollution Australian industries. When he was my predecessor as the former environment minister, and most recently when he wanted the Liberal Party leadership, the Leader of the Opposition himself acknowledged the importance of climate change and said that he was all for an emissions trading scheme. In 2007 he noted that putting a price on carbon was ‘essential’. In May 2008 he said:
… the emissions trading scheme is the central mechanism to decarbonise our economy.
Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The minister was asked about the emissions trading scheme and again they seem to be confusing the Shergold emissions trading scheme with the current government’s emissions trading scheme. He is not being relevant—
The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will resume his seat. There is no point of order.
Mr GARRETT —As the Prime Minister noted, the Leader of the Opposition also spoke on this in an earlier interview with Laurie Oakes, and on Lateline on 9 July he said:
… the Howard Government’s policy last year, was that we would establish an emissions trading system not later than 2012. It was not conditional on international action.
He went on to say:
… John Howard decided and the Cabinet decided last year that we would move on an emissions trading scheme come what may.
That was the Howard government’s policy, and that was the opposition’s policy last year—moving on an emissions trading scheme ‘come what may’. What has happened is that we have had a phalanx of climate change deniers, we have had the member for Higgins suddenly speaking up and now the opposition leader has said this morning:
You’ll notice Pyne rose just before Garrett used the phrase to make a point of order on relevance. Did he bother to rise after Garrett made the phrase? Err that’d be a no. I guess he didn’t hear him say it.
Or how about this time in August 2009, when Kevin Rudd used it – you know him, he was the previous Prime Minister:
Mr RUDD —
But those opposite again have intervened on the question of politics. Again, the climate change deniers and the climate change sceptics of the Liberal Party and the National Party are running policy. That is why they cannot reach a concluded position on climate change. For example, remember that one of the leadership aspirants on the part of those opposite, the shadow minister for health—I refer to Mr Abbott—said on 27 July:
The point I made about an emissions trading scheme is that I don’t like it one little bit.
I would have thought that the shadow minister in question—
Ms Julie Bishop —Which one?
Mr RUDD —Can I just say ‘Mr Abbott’, because we do lose track of what portfolios those opposite are responsible for. Can I say in relation to—
The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat.
Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: apart from the fact that the Prime Minister should be referring to members by their titles, how can this answer be relevant? He does not actually know who he is talking about. More importantly, he was asked about the 90 per cent higher power price—
The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will resume his seat. The Prime Minister will respond to the question and refer to members by their titles.
This time Pyne does rise to make a point of order after the phrase is stated, and yet he rises because he is so aggrieved that Rudd is not addressing Liberal MPs by their parliamentary titles! I guess back then Pyne had forgotten about his 11 years as chairman on the parliamentary friendship group on Israel.
Who knows, maybe today was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back – because you know in the past Pyne has been oh so hesitant to ask the ALP to withdraw statements – that is if we ignore him asking for the following to be withdrawn:
- Wayne Swan calling Abbott a “con man”
- Julia Gillard calling Greg Hunt “a man of conviction”
- Anthony Albanese saying of Turnbull “Follow the money”
- Martin Ferguson making “an extremely unparliamentary remark” to Joe Hockey
- Swan saying the opposition campaign “was false and deliberately deceptive”
- Gillard calling Julie Bishop “a threat to national security”
- Martin Ferguson saying the opposition were only interested in “grubby donations”
- Albanese saying of Sophie Mirabella she “never saw a trough she didn't like”
- Kevin Rudd saying Scott Morrison has been “found out to be a political fraud”
- Warren Snowden saying of Peter Dutton “You just grab hold of Tony’s balls. I have one for you”
- Craig Emerson referring to Barnaby Joyce as “Sir Barnaby Bjelke-Peterson”
- Swan referring to Barnaby Joyce as “Barnaby Rubble”
- Albanese referring to Abbott as the “mad monk”
- Lindsay Tanner calling Barnaby Joyce “the bearded lady of Australian politics”
- Tanner calling Barnaby Joyce “Barnaby Goose”
- Tanner questioning of Turnbull that he was “whether or not the Leader of the Opposition is a fit and proper person who is qualified to lead the Australian nation”
- Tanner referring to Nick Minchin and Wilson Tuckey as “the wacky crew”
- Jenny Macklin making a “slur” against Tony Abbott.
- Rudd’s “imputation of improper motives” of Phillip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews
- Swan for “verballing” Malcolm Turnbull
- Brendan O’Connor suggesting that Turnbull did “not have the integrity to ask the question [on asylum seekers] himself”
- Gillard referring to the “plain stupidity that leads them to make these false assertions” about the BER
- Swan suggesting the Liberals “lied” about keeping interest rates at record lows
- Swan calling Joe Hockey “sloppy Joe”
- Rudd “verballing” Pyne himself
- Swann calling Joe Hockey “sloppy Joe”
- Rudd using the word “fraudulent” to describe the Liberal's economic policy (in the same question Pyne himself withdrew “nasty nerd” and “bitch”
- Rudd suggesting the Lib’s position on Government debt was “an absolute lie”
- Rudd calling the Libs the “party of binge drinking”
- Macklin referring to the Libs as “ambulance chasers”
- Joel Fitzgibbon for suggesting Bob Baldwin’s question was not “a genuine attempt to seek information”
- Albanese saying the Port Macquarie council was dismissed because of “its maladministration”
So as you can see Pyne is a rather shy bloke who is hesitant to step up to the dispatch box and suggest something has been said which offends him. So I guess it is entirely understandable that today he would for the first time finally stand up and ask for “climate change deniers” to be withdrawn.
Just for a bit of fun – see if you can find the story on right on the last Newspoll – you know the one that had the ALP primary vote drop six points.
Yeah, the difference is subtle ain’t it?
There were some brilliant explanations as to why the “bounce” occurred. A good one was Scott Morrison suggesting it was all Kevin Rudd’s doing:
"In times of international and major international events governments do tend to get a bounce, so it may well be that what we've seen in this poll has a lot more to do with Kevin Rudd than Julia Gillard.”
Yeah, the general voting public was really changing votes due to the Libya no-fly zone.
But the prize goes to Tony Abbott for suggesting the bounce was because Gillard was hobnobbing with Barack Obama and (wait for it) Prince William. He also predicts (this one is really good) that she will get a Royal wedding bounce.
Dennis Shanahan of course was suggesting it because Gillard made a speech at the Don Dunstan foundation where she rather lightly depicted the Greens as extremists. That probably about 0.5% of the population was aware of the speech I think may mean he is lightly overstating the coverage of it.
No one seems to be suggesting that maybe after the sharp anger at a perceived broken promise, some voters are just happy to see the ALP stand for something, and that they also think Abbott is not up to it.
It’s actually the type of poll that should have a few Liberal MPs going round the House singing “Hey Joe” (especially the first line of “where you going with that gun in your hand”). Possum over at Crikey points out that the trend for the Libs has not been good for a couple weeks. Abbott may have peaked – his dis-satisfaction rating of 54 per cent pretty well screams to Libs that this guy will never be PM (or at least it should be). He has a net-satisfaction rating of minus 21. Joe Hockey – start counting numbers.
Gillard’s net-satisfaction rating is minus 7 (improved from minus 12). It’s not great (that’s understatement), but I’m still liking my prediction that either Gillard or Abbott will be gone by the end of the year. But now I have to say my thinking is tending more towards one of them being gone than the other…