This Week in Parliament
This week in Parliament will be one of the most dramatic for some time. The atmosphere is likely to be toxic.
There is widespread disillusion in the electorate over Malcolm Turnbull’s dismissal and Labor will use this to build on its message that the Coalition government is dysfunctional.
Bill Shorten will attack Scott Morrison personally by attempting to characterise him as a climate denier who lacks humanity while professing to hold Christian values.
Added to this Monday’s Newspoll showed Labor leading the Coalition by 56% to 44% on a two party preferred basis. Labor’s primary vote of 42% was its best since the 2007 Ruddslide.
Scott Morrison has done his best to rebrand the government.
He’s adopted the John Howard practice of scraping off the barnacles, notably by killing off the Coalition policy of raising the pension age to 70: it will now remain at 67 where it was set under the Gillard government.
He has already attempted to close down the fallout from the Turnbull leadership spill by describing it as a “Muppet show” and saying that “the curtain has come down on it.”
However there are still allegations of bullying of female members of the party to be dealt with.
Scott Morrison is attempting to deal with the issue internally but with members back in Canberra the press gallery will be assiduous in pursuing the allegations and eking out further particulars.
According to media reports, Labor will also target government frontbenchers who pledged loyalty to Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives and are alleged to have voted against him in the secret ballot.
They will be accused of misleading the House. Any motion will fail but it will emphasise the divisions in the government.
The other Labor target will be Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, who will be accused of misleading the Parliament over the au pair affair.
There will no doubt be a motion of no confidence in the Minister, which could be a problem for the government because they do not have a majority on the floor now that Malcolm Turnbull has resigned: if the crossbenchers side with Labor then the government will have to have everyone available to rebut the motion.
In the event that Julia Banks pulls the pin then they will be in deep trouble, although, when interviewed on Sunday, Josh Frydenberg was confident that she would stay in Parliament until the election.
However to ensure this happens the party will have to take her claims of bullying seriously.
Scott Morrison is attempting to project a new image of the Coalition government. In his speech to the Menzies Research Centre in Albury he set out a clear set of values.
He reinterpreted the idea of fairness to give it a Liberal spin: “a fair go for those who have a go” and “make a contribution, not to seek one.”
However he also acknowledged that the disadvantaged need assistance: “We’ve got to look after our mates,” Morrison said, to flag his belief in the social safety net and Medicare.
There was a pitch about inclusion: “you love all Australians if you love Australia” – whether they “rocked up” in chains like his forebears or arrived last week.
He also confirmed that the government accepted the science of global warming even though it did not believe in legislated targets.
He said in the speech: “we’ll absolutely be able to deal with our present target out to 2030 with no impact on electricity prices at all.”
The big question will be whether Scott Morrison can hold it all together over the next two weeks.
He’s had to deal with a torrent of leaks by Turnbull supporters and his strategy of ignoring them seems to have worked.
He also has the prospect that former Deputy Leader, Julie Bishop, may go rogue.
Her speech at a function last week amounted to a trenchant attack on her own party.
The Prime Minister will need to show that he can bring about cultural change in his party.
Bill Shorten Takes His First Shot in the House of Representatives
At 11.28am Opposition Leader Bill Shorten moved a suspension of standing and sessional orders in the House of Representatives on the first day of Parliament under Prime Minster Scott Morrison.
The Opposition Leaders Motion defeated 72-68. The Coalition voted as 1 with National Kevin Hogan who now sits on the cross bench after Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting voting with the Coalition plus Leader of Katter’s Australia Party Bob Katter.
Those who voted with Labor were Independent Andrew Wilkie and Green Adam Bandt.
There were 2 Members who abstained from the vote Independent Cathy McGowan and Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie.
This is the first test of the number on the floor of the House of Representatives that shows the government does have at this point in time the support of the House.