Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: the FFS! file grows

Barnaby Joyce will personally lobby Simon Birmingham to rein in the contentious Safe Schools Coalition anti-bullying program amid backbench outrage over the Education Minister’s “whitewash” review of the scheme and claims one of its key proponents is a “pedophile advocate”.

Coalition MPs learned at a private briefing on Tuesday that the government’s review of the scheme — which educates secondary school children about ­sexual orientation and transgender issues — had largely ­endorsed the scheme’s content, but recom­mended clearer advice for parents.

Several MPs stormed out of the meeting, blaming the terms of reference that did not require reviewer Bill Louden to consult with parents or visit more than a handful of schools.

Disgruntled backbenchers were last night devising a partyroom powerplay by circulating a petition to suspend the program’s $2 million annual subsidy pending a “full-blown” parliamentary inquiry. It has been signed by at least 30 MPs, which is half the backbench. [The Australian, 17 March 2016]

Warren Entsch wasn’t having a lend. Christensen’s Safe Schools petition really has vanished. It was last seen in question time yesterday. Accident or misadventure. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I am laughing. Politics really is absurd, isn’t it? [The Guardian, 17 March 2016]

The internal debate within the Government over the Safe Schools gender diversity program is escalating, with Tony Abbott signing a petition against it despite introducing the program as prime minister. [ABC News, 17 March 2016]

Malcolm Turnbull personally urged Annastacia Palaszczuk to delay appointing Ian Macfarlane to a plum role under a plan to save his government from a damaging by-election. The prime minister rang the premier last week asking her to keep open the newly created position of a Resources Investment Commissioner for another three months, which has further fuelled speculation he plans to call a double dissolution election.

The bizarre phone call was met with surprise by Ms Palaszczuk, who dismissed the plea, and wants to announce a candidate and turbocharge jobs in the struggling resources sector.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Macfarlane, who has already announced he would not recontest his seat of Groom, was planning to quit parliament as early as last Friday. It is believed he is the preferred candidate for the job and a contract is ready for him to sign. It has been speculated Turnbull thought he was also trying to help his mate, who under law cannot accept a job while he is a member of parliament. [The Guardian, 17 March 2016]

There's been much debate about why the Senate wants to keep photographers at bay.
Under current rules photographers (and their media organisations) can be banned from the building for taking pictures of Senators in the chamber when they are not standing and speaking.
[ABC News, 17 March 2016]

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