Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On the QT: I am confected with outrage

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”.

Pyne said:

“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:


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:

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.

imageOn a completely unrelated subject, this morning a Newspoll came out that had the ALP’s Primary vote increase six points and had the ALP ahead 51-49 on two party preferred.

As you would expect, The Oz ran big with it – there it is you see on the left imageunder the fold down the bottom with the eye catching headline of “Carbon plan gives Labor bounce in support”

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…


jude said...

Very amusing, and edifying. But could you please tell your mate Possum to stop putting apostrophes in every word that ends in 's' ??? (including verbs! Ha!) Kthxbai

Niall said...

an absolutely mighty effort, Grog!! Such attention to detail and kudos on your research. I hereby nominate this post for blog entry of the year thus far.

Turneretti said...

Glad you finally got this out of your "pen" Grog but how do resolve this conflict: should the Oz just be ignored, or do we have to reproduce it in order to to expose it's bias?

Turneretti said...

Oops, sorry about the apostrophe.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Perhaps he'd prefer 'flat-earthers'. No Holocaust connotations there.

Gordicans said...

I was watching question time and thought it absolutely outrageous that the speaker would prevent the govt. using the term 'climate deniers' for the stated reasons. Jenkins needs his head read - his decision was totally absurd. It was a big score by Pyne though. No doubt he couldn't believe his luck.

Unrelated, Graham Kraehe, Chairman of Blue Scope Steel was on National Press Club Address (ABC 24) today and was particularly impressive. Worth watching if you can catch a repeat. Main message was 1)he claimed that his business won't be protected against non carbon taxed imports with the proposed system 2) this government (and the Rudd Govt) are totally shithouse at communicating with industry, the govt's round table discussion on carbon tax is a total joke, but he emphasised that he had a lot to do with the Hawke/Keating govt who he said were extremely good at communicating with industry (good old John Button).

Mr Tiedt said...

To my mind, when a poll number falls six points and then gains six back in the next poll the obvious explanation (in the absence of any massive events moving public opinion) is statistical noise... Sometimes the sample is not perfect.

Anyway, alls well for Labor. Federally, at least...

Lloyd said...

On a minor note it took a couple of emails to ABC News online this morning before they bothered to report on the Newspoll results. I suspect if some of us hadn't whinged the Liberal Party stooges that make up their newsroom would have let it slide on by.

Sir Ian Crisp said...

Yes, school is well and truly in down at the nation’s capital. Maybe Mr Jenkins could gently remind Mr Pyne that the Oscars have already been handed out. When MPs become stressed like Mr Pyne is they usually undertake a fact-finding-mission to Paris, Rome, London, Vienna, and New York. Those locations yield an unending supply of facts on all manner of things but there is no need for an MP to burden the taxpayers with all those facts upon their return to Oz. Of course Mr Pyne should not attempt this type of therapy unescorted so it’s only natural that his spouse/partner accompany him.

Do we pay them enough?

Greg Jericho said...

Mr Tiedt - you could be right but Possum's trend graph does show some definite movement across all the polls.

Unknown said...

Yet again I'm consistently impressed every time I read your blog. I loved the 6 pt Newspoll comparison....gold!

Anonymous said...

Lordy, Grog! It was insane enough that I used to have to watch QT as part of my job when I was in the Parliamentary Liaison section of a dept in Canberra, in case anything of portfolio relevance arose. Your recording and watching it after work is going above and beyond the call of any blog. How has your family not moved out? That said, many thanks to you (and commiserations to them) for your personal sacrifices on behalf of all of us who cannot face the thought of enduring it ourselves.

On the polls, the Opposition is heading towards a rather interesting position. Abbott is trying to walk on both sides of the fence (ie there is no climate change but we have a policy to address it anyway) and is now showing regularly and indisputably as electoral poison. Replacing him with a climate change non-rejectionist (formerly known as a non-denier) like Turnbull would be to admit that Abbott's policy was wrong (and unsupported by the party). Apart from being untenable to the likes of Jensen, Mirabella and the ilLiberal right and thus splitting the party, and throwing the likes of Murdoch, Akerman, Devine, Bolt, the Oz (Mitchell), Pell, Jones, and the the and the rest of that noise into disarray, it would also mean the Opposition would have to find a new poster policy to differentiate itself from the Government.
Of course the polls could be all wrong this week and revert again next week. Meanwhile, the farce continues.

Anonymous said...

After watching Chris Uhlmann interview Bob Brown on 7.30 tonight, I look forward to Uhlmann's forthcoming interviews with the Opposition (have there been any yet? I may have missed them), where he interrupts and tries to play gotcha politics in search of a headline. Brown pulled him up nicely tonight, reminding him that the main event is not that Gillard broke an electoral promise, but the pros and cons of an ETS and a carbon tax.
Policy? Did someone say policy? Uhlmann restrained himself after that - presumably the producer had a word in his earpiece.

Anonymous said...

Personally I found the Ju-liar tag far more offensive.

Patricia WA said...

Well done Grog. Do you think Mr. Pyne would object to this?

Our PM may, or may not be, a liar.
But with leadership ratings always dire,
Consistently refusing to retire,
Tony Abbott is a Newspoll denier.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon, my family have come to understand that there is something slightly odd about me :-)

Patricia, Pyne may wish to have it withdrawn, but I shall allow it!

Anonymous said...

The issue was raised this morning on the 7 morning show, from what I could tell after some discussion they all decided that Pyne was a pratt (they actually used the word pratt)

ernmalleyscat said...

Thanks for the list of Pyne's objections in parliament. It allowed renewed appreciation of Lindsay Tanner's skill.
Barnaby Joyce - "the bearded lady of Australian politics" is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

In my experoence, as soon as anyone mentions 'Hitler' or 'Holocaust' they have lost the argument.
Jenkins should have thrown Pyne out.

Johng said...

The 11:22 anonymous. My wife sent a comment to 7:30 following that interview, complaining about Uhlmann's behaviour. It was disgraceful.

Casablanca said...

Pyne has been suspended from the House for 24 hours as from approx 3.12pm

Adam said...

Not sure if the typo will be there later, but it seems The Australian has made a little embarrassing mistake referring to Ms Abbott...


“It's an appeal to extremism. And extremism will always be there in our community, but that doesn't mean we should agree with it or we should give way to it.”

Ms Smith responded to the claim, saying Mr Champion “should come down and have a talk to the people that are here”.

"After some initial confusion over whether he would speak at the rally, Ms Abbott's office obtained a parliamentary “pair” from Labor so the Opposition Leader could attend without the risk of missing a parliamentary vote."

About half way through the article.

Unknown said...

FWIW: a quick google search show following numbers:

Holocaust denier: 3,080,000
Climate change denier: 6,620,000

Essendee said...

Good QT for the government today esoecially re carbon. Good to see them taking on Bluescope's bullshit too.
I can visualize the coalition trying to extricate themselves from the mess they've got themselves into but can't visualize how they might do it.

Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Grog - You also missed the comments and shouts from the Opposition which were not broadcast but which, to somebody who can read lips, were offensive in the extreme. In addition to Pyne's reference to "harriden" another of the words shouted across the chamber was "bitch". Strangely, and obviously a huge coincidence, at today's rally outside Parliament one of the signs read "witch".
The use of inflammatory signage and abusive language seems to be the pattern now associated with the protests associated with the Opposition.
To my mind much of the language and imagery directed at Julia Gillard is the same abusive language reported in cases of domestic violence. Perhaps the Opposition came under the thrall of Alexander Downer's reference to "the things that batter" which brought about his demotion some years back.
I have issues with Harry Jenkins control of QT from time to time. It seems to me that he sometimes errs in his directions and admonitions by a wish to appear as "one of the boys".
It was also be better if he refrained occasionally from unnecessarily interrupting the Prime Minister's responses to questions, which sometimes has the effect of impeding a very good response.

Anonymous said...

Pyne is a pratt? Presumably you don't mean a person who would trash his reputation to squeeze out another few mill ,rather a cocky foolish and annoying person - which fits Pyne well. In other words, a prat.

Jaeger said...

Anon @ 1:45pm: Yes, it's a pity that Godwin's law isn't one of the standing orders. "Mr Speaker, on a point of order. The member for Sturt used a Nazi analogy; I move that the member no longer be heard."

Jaeger said...

Irony: A skywriting plane burning fossil fuel over Canberra today to write "No tax Julia" for Abbott's latest stunt. I doubt there were many pilots in the crowd, though.