Thursday, August 28, 2008

On the QT: Liberal Heights High

The Liberals (as they always do) today came up with another standard way of phrasing their questions. This time it was "why has [insert something] happened since the election of the Rudd Government?"

The repetitive manner of these questions are such that one can imagine the senior Libs in the QT tactics committee in the morning laughing to themselves thinking "we've got them now" in the same manner that high school kids get together at lunch time to talk about the latest "totally so unfair" rule the teachers have set down, before coming up with what they are sure is a totally, like, so brilliant argument to defeat it - you know, like "If I don't want to do it, you can't make me".

All that would be missing from the Lib's tactics committee would be Ja'mie King coming up with an idea to organise the school formal (but then of course the Libs have their own Ja'mie...).

And so QT started with Nelson to Rudd from the right wing end. I missed the actual question but it can't have been too great, because when I tuned in Rudd was banging on about workchoices and keeping election promises, and no one on the Libs side was even bothering to shout at him to answer the question (which suggests there wasn't much to answer).

Peter Dutton then came off the long run with the following: "Why has the cost of petrol and groceries increased since the Rudd Government came to Office?" Now Dutton is shadow Finance, and it says something that he gets to ask a question before Turnbull. The word in the Libs is that Dutton is a comer. He's only 37 so he certainly is one for their future; but this pedestrian effort does not auger well. When given the new ball its best not to bowl a long hop; which this question most certainly was.

The cost of petrol and groceries go up and down for a number of reasons - most of them have little (if any) to do with government. Dutton might as well have asked why has the drought continued since the election of the the Rudd Government for all the logic it had. Nowhere in his question did it require Rudd to admit responsibility; nowhere did it require him to renege on something he has previously said. All it did was allow Rudd to score some quick runs in the early overs.

Rudd spent the next 7-8 minutes or so leaning on the dispatch box talking about the world economy, the pressures of inflation, the need for a strong surplus etc etc (it was pretty dull, but mostly because like watching Australia verses Bangladesh they were all easy runs). One aspect I think Rudd needs to stop is his leaning on the dispatch box with his side to the camera. Not because it is disrespectful, but it just doesn't play well on the news - he needs to give the news more things to take a 5 second grab from.

After a Dorothy Dixer to Julia on education policy, rather aptly, Ju'lie Bishop was up next; displaying to all why she is the biggest dead weight on the Lib's front bench.

She asked Rudd a fairly decent question on business confidence in the standard manner (ie why has it gone down since the election of the Rudd Government). But she ended her question by holding up a big sheet of paper of presumably a graph of the latest Sensis Report on business confidence.

She showed it around to all with a look of utter smarminess on her face that is usually reserved for vacuous Year 11 girls who believe the fact that their project looks the prettiest, they have a boyfriend in Year 12, their Dad is rich, and they go to a private school means they should get a top mark.

Rudd responded by talking about interest rate rises, the fact that confidence is down around the world (he reeled off a number of stats which makes it sound like nowhere is it fun being in government at the moment), finished with a swipe at Costello - "the smiling predator waiting for events to unfold" - and sat down no doubt sure that Ju'lie B would make a fool of herself with her big sheet of paper in a vain attempt to have it tabled.

Which she did; and showing an even greater level of the "my Dad's rich and yours isn't" attitude that comes so easily to her, she turned away from the Speaker who was telling her to sit down, and held up the big piece of paper to the back benches and the public gallery.

She sat down with a look that suggests she obviously thought she had just won the day (Ju'lie is a big one for thinking that because she and all her friends think something is so then it must be so - I mean doesn't everyone know how totally random she is? Obviously the Speaker is a fool for questioning Ju'lie's hotness).

I love Ju'lie: the greater prominence she gets, the greater my confidence that the ALP will never lose office. "Sorry, no offence but it's true."

After this excitement, Wayne Swan then took some net practice and proceeded to spend the time blocking balls. I would like to be able to say what he said about education costs but my mind drifted about 5 seconds into his answer.

I awoke to find the medium pacer from Wentworth ready to send one down to Rudd. He asked why the latest Sensis Report revealed business had less confidence in the Rudd Government that it did in state governments.

It was one of his better efforts; the best Rudd could do was point out the report's author had also stated that:
"We're finding that basically the current economic downturn is related to consumer factors, it's consumer driven."

This confidence issue is, I think, the only one the Libs can really throw at the Government, but they'll have to do better than just asking why it's gone down - better to ask if Rudd or Swan think the drop in business confidence will lead to higher unemployment - because to be honest Rudd wasn't all that troubled; though it was good to see Turnbull not getting hit to the boundary for once.

From that point on the questions were dull and easy: Stuart Robert even asked Julia, "How many more Australians will lose their jobs over the next 12 months?" - What an exact figure? A seriously pointless question; honestly why even bother? Did he expect Julia to stand up and say "errr, 50,000.. no wait, I think maybe 51,.. 49.. look I'm not sure... oh boy you've got me stumped on that one". Julia certainly didn't bother giving it any respect, though I believe she could have scored a few more runs off it - as it was it seemed like she couldn't be bothered.

The only bit of excitement after that was in answer to a rather long but somewhat enjoyable question from Wilson Tuckey on grocery choices and fuel watch. Rudd got stuck into the Libs about not doing anything on petrol or grocery prices for 12 years so it was a bit late in the game to complain about them now (to be honest what he said was hardly riveting).

As he sat down, Dutton was about to make a point of order; but instead he decided to yell across the dispatch box without being given the call, and was thus thrown out for an hour; Steve Robert then called the Speaker "a joke" - he got an hour's rest as well; and to finish, Mr People Skills himself, Tony Abbott, got up to protest the rulings, and because he was his usual frivolous self he was also given an hour off. No doubt he would have been tempted to tell the Speaker "Puck you" as he left.

The final question was a Dorothy Dixer to Julia on literacy week. She stated that in preparation for the week she had looked at some of the websites of Australian publishers and was pleased to discover that Melbourne University Press - publishers of Costello's soon to be released memoirs - has the motto "Books with Spine". She wagered his was the exception, and that it would likely go straight to (spineless) paperback. She also went on to mention the tribute dinner in Costello's honour in Melbourne on Friday night. She surmised the menu would be prawns for entree (no spine there), chicken for main course, and jelly for dessert.

It wasn't her best stuff, but it produced the desired result of Joe Hockey bouncing to the floor demanding a point of order. Unfortunately Julia had already finished, which brought an abrupt end to QT that drew the ire of the Libs, who got up and stormed out.

Ju'lie, obviously not appreciating one of the povo public school girls showing so little respect to the object of her schoolgirl crush, lashed out at Julia on the way out and pointed her finger at her in a manner that suggested Ju'lie thought Julia was so totally not random.

No doubt she quickly went to phone her Mum to demand she come in and talk to the principal about it.

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