Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Abbott's Australia in February 2015

# On 3 February 2015 Federal Liberal MP for Bowman Andrew Laming announced he will introduce a private members’ bill, abolishing Knights and Dames from the Australian honours system. Two titles unilaterally re-introduced into the honours system by Prime Minister Abbott in March 2014.

# On 5 February 2015 U.S. think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, published an opinion piece which stated:
Tony Abbott, however, is in charge of a regional power, a country that is the twelfth largest economy in the world and the only rich world nation to have survived the 2008-9 financial crisis unscathed. Yet in less than two years as prime minister, Abbott has proven shockingly incompetent, which is why other leaders within his ruling coalition, following a set of defeats in state elections, may now scheme to unseat him. They should: Abbott has proven so incapable of clear policy thinking, so unwilling to consult with even his own ministers and advisers, and so poor at communicating that he has to go.

# On 9 February 2015 Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott defeated by just 12 votes a Liberal party room motion to declare the positions of prime minister and deputy-prime minister vacant.

# At the start of the 2015 parliamentary year on 9 February were are 148 bills still being considered by the Australian Parliament or awaiting assent, 33 before the House of Representatives (including two bills aimed at encouraging state governments to sell off public assets) and 104 before the Senate.

# On the second sitting day (10 February 2015) the Speaker in the House of Representatives, Liberal MP for Mackellar Bronwyn Bishop, during Question Time declared the word “misleading” an unparliamentary term when used by the Labor Opposition Leader - despite allowing its use twice earlier that day and six times by six different MPs the day before.

# The Age reported on 11 February 2015 that the Australian National Audit Office will investigate Tony Abbott's decision to hand over $3 billion of public money for the East West Link without a rigorous benefit-cost analysis.

# On 11 February 2015 an emotionally out-of-kilter Prime Minister Abbott accused the Labor Opposition of wanting to see Australian submarines possibly built in Russia or North Korea. By 12 February he had also described evidence not yet presented to the court in one instance and has been publicly accused of using parliamentary privilege in an attempt to influence the judicial process "in a calculated political gambit". In another instance on that same day he had the insensitivity and bad taste to state; There was a holocaust of jobs in defence industries under members opposite. That’s what there was, Madame Speaker.

# On 11 February 2015 Opposition Leader Bill Shorten drew parliament's attention to Australian Bureau of Statistics findings that the number of adults in prison in 2014 has risen to a ten year high of 33,791 individuals with the national prison rate also at a ten year high of 185.6 up 13.4 points since 2013. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounted for just over a quarter (27% or 9,264 prisoners) of the total Australian prisoner population. The total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 18 years and over in 2014 was approximately 2% of the Australian population aged 18 years and over.
# The Abbott Government finally tabled the Australian Human Rights Commission's November 2014 National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014 on 12 February 2015 and then the report was promptly attacked by Prime Minister Abbott for being a blatantly partisan politicised exercise for which the Commission should be ashamed, before he told Parliament that It would be a lot easier to respect the Human Rights Commission if it did not engage in what are transparent stitch-ups like the one that was released the other day. On or about 28 January the Australian Attorney-General George Brandis has asked the President of this independent commission to resign ahead of publication of the report.
# According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 12 February 2015 Australia’s unemployment rate increased to 6.4 per cent in January (seasonally adjusted unemployed people increased by 34,500 to 795,200) and the number of employed people decreased by 12,200 to 11,668,700.

Between December and January the workforce-age population increased in size by 7,900 people and the number of people with a casual, part or full-time job fell by 251,200.

In NSW in January 2015 the unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent, representing an est. 237,600 individuals. This is a rise of 0.2% on December 2014 unemployment numbers.

# The Australian reported on 12 February 2015 on one instance of Tony Abbott's angry bullying of his own backbenchers.

# On 13 February 2015 ABC News reported that Chief Government Whip, Phillip Ruddock, was standing down following the leadership challenge. He became the first public retaliation by Tony Abbott against those in his party he now appears to distrust after the leadership spill motion vote was supported by 39 members of his own party.

# The Guardian reported on 13 February 2015 that there is growing government backbench support for Liberal Senator Corey Bernardi's private member's bill weakening Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. 

# 14 February 2015 (Valentine's Day) saw the Prime Minister and his wife the subject of a News Corp puff piece, in which Margie Abbott told the world that her husband is honourable, decent, has a lot of grace, is chivalrous and is everything that as partner in life I could wish for.

# On 14 February 2015 Tony Abbott upload a video to his YouTube account, which signalled a possible intention to remove any presumption of innocence in national security, immigration and welfare legislation. He stated that for too long there has been the benefit of the doubt and that for migrants to this country and asylum seekers; "There's been the benefit of the doubt at our borders, the benefit of the doubt for residency, the benefit of the doubt for citizenship and the benefit of the doubt at Centrelink. And in the courts, there has been bail, when clearly there should have been jail."

# On 16 February 2015 The Australian reported on the continuing disconnect between party officials, Abbott’s advisers and government backbenchers; Several sources have told The Australian Mr Loughnane’s ­assessment that the fundamentals were in place to allow the government to rebuild against Bill Shorten “didn’t go down well’’. “MPs were challenging it, immediately telling him that it was not what people in the street and in their electorates were telling them,’’ one MP said. “The weirdest part was his claim the Paris terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorism was focusing the minds of people. “While we know people are concerned, all of us know that there are bigger ­issues for people.’’

#  Perth Now reported on 16 February 2015 that; Prime Minister Tony Abbott has embarked on a nationwide tour to reconnect with voters in a last-ditch bid to restore his electoral standing and save his job. Mr Abbott will spend this week visiting every state and territory and venturing out into shopping malls and coffee shops to show he is in touch with the voters and with his own backbench. The tour comes a week after he narrowly survived a spill motion bought on by his backbench, and followed months of complaints the PM had become remote, isolated and out of touch. The PM kicked off his tour with two morning tea functions in suburban Sydney. His wife, Margie, who was rarely seen at political events with him until the leadership crisis erupted, joined Mr Abbott.

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