All Over, Red Rover? Federal Parliament’s 2016 Report Card

When looking for a respectable thread-starter, Puffy with her suggestions and Tony Burke with his #5and5 are my friends. Please enjoy, and my apologies for not being organised earlier. I’ll now hand you over to Tony . . .

. . . and then moi discovered that Teh Boss had already put up one of his great Friday threads. So moi sighed with relief ‘cos moi was very very very late . . .

I realise this is a little out of date and all manner of things have happened since last Friday, but it’s the last of #5and5 for the year so I thought it worth an outing even at this stage. Besides, moi is exhausted after cleaning the kitchen. Worse is to come: tomorrow I tackle the bedrooms and upstairs bathrooms.

Triple J opened their Monday morning news with “The final week of Parliament and rare monkeys found.” This was always going to be quite a week. It was meant to be Malcolm Turnbull’s week of triumph – well, not so much.


1. Linking arms has become a major campaign within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to send a strong message against domestic violence. Football teams, bands, remote communities, volunteers have all been sharing photos over the past few months with everyone linking arms to make clear their opposition to domestic violence. On Monday we stood at the forecourt of Parliament House for a ceremony led by Gurindji journalist Charlie King. All parties as well as independents linked arms in a commitment that domestic violence and family violence is always unacceptable.

2. The final major speech of the year was after Question Time on Thursday afternoon. Bill Shorten drew the threads of Government chaos together and compared it to Labor’s plans, policy and vision. It was great. And funny. My favourite line talked about the rumours that Malcolm Turnbull will get rid of George Brandis by sending him to London as the new High Commissioner:

“For 80 years the British government sent us the prisoners they considered beyond redemption—the sweepings of their society—and, in one fell swoop, Australia will get its revenge!”

3. There’s a new Senate inquiry, and guess who is in the firing line? Guess which Government Minister would have found himself in a scandal this week? Yep. George Brandis. When Bill Shorten reminded Malcolm Turnbull that a year ago he expressed his full confidence in Jamie Briggs, Mal Brough and Stuart Robert and asked whether in the same way he had full confidence in George Brandis, all the PM could do was say “Of course I do” and sit down as quickly as possible.

4. On Wednesday, new results came out showing where Australia ranks internationally for science and maths in schools. We are now behind Kazakhstan. Tanya Plibersek highlighted the hypocrisy of the Government on Gonski funding by holding up in Parliament this sign which the Coalition used at polling booths across the country at the 2013 election.

5. After Question Time on Thursday Scott Morrison started boasting that his deal on the backpackers tax had the support of One Nation, NXT, and the Greens political party. Anthony Albanese noticed that Morrison said he would table a letter and then hadn’t done so. Albo was quick to his feet demanding a copy of the letter. Chris Bowen then let everyone know the letter with Richard Di Natale’s signature was on the Treasurer’s letterhead. Chris pointed out we now had co-Treasurers and the Government had been so desperate to not reach any sensible agreement with Labor that it had cut a deal which raised taxes and still hurt the Budget.


1. Remember over the weekend Nick Xenophon talked tough that he wouldn’t support Government legislation unless the Government committed to delivering the full 450 gigalitres for the Murray-Darling. That’s the same amount of water that Barnaby Joyce referred to in a letter to South Australia which made clear he had no intention of delivering it. Well the tough talk from Nick Xenophon didn’t end real well. Of the 450 gigalitres guess how much he got the Government to commit to before he offered his vote? None. Not a drop.

2. I’ve thought long and hard about including this photo in the email. Once you’ve seen it, the memory will live with you forever. But given I can’t repress this memory you may as well be compelled to look at it too. We’re in this together. This is George Christensen. This photo has not been photoshopped. Despite the talk, he voted with the Government against a Royal Commission into the banks and financial services industry. We lost the vote 74-75 last night.

3. Imagine a world where you can put a law through Parliament but not let the other Members of Parliament see a copy of the new law. That’s what Scott Morrison tried to get away with yesterday afternoon. He stood up to introduce a bill that wasn’t on the Notice Paper, and there were no copies for anyone to read. He thought this was fine. When I raised the hardly earth shattering point that we should be able to have a copy of what we were voting on, the Speaker ruled he had to provide copies. The whole Parliament stopped and did nothing. That’s right nothing, while we waited for copies to turn up. I presume the Hansard record of debate will just have a series of blank pages. Someone needs to tell Scott Morrison that while there are some countries in the world where you don’t have to let anyone know what laws are passing, so far, Australia isn’t one of them.

4. They did it again. Last time they forgot to vote against a Labor amendment there were only a few people in the Chamber. This time every Member of the Government was in the Chamber when an amendment was voted on that had been moved by Kate Ellis. When the Speaker asked for those against to vote no there wasn’t a sound. He tried again. He said he thought the “Ayes” had it. The Speaker decided to put the whole vote again, spelt it out for the Chamber and finally the Government MPs woke up and realised they wanted to vote no.

5. This week the Government got its ABCC bills through the Senate. Those are the bills that have rules for construction workers that are harsher than we apply to people charged with murder. The bills that went through were heavily amended and different to what the Government took to the election. Malcolm Turnbull’s desperation to get anything through and to cut any deal really said it all. This was about the instability within the Liberal Party and his battle with Tony Abbott. He needed to look like he’d had a win. As it turned out, after all the amendments and the chaos of the week, the congratulations messages never arrived.

Normally I don’t plug events in this email. But on Monday Julian Hill is hosting an event which is about this email. Completely about this email. It’s the #5and5 LIVE! and it’s in Melbourne on Monday night. If you can make it, I’ll see you there. If it works it might become a regular thing. If it doesn’t, I promise to never mention it again.

Parliament has now finished until February next year. I love that in a multicultural country we get to celebrate everything. In the coming weeks people will be celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, the Epiphany, New Year, Tet and Chinese New Year. So have a safe break. Celebrate as many different events as you can and use every celebration to remind people of the strength we have in the diversity of our nation. And on a personal note, have a happy Christmas.

I’ll be in touch in 2017, another year closer to the next Labor government.

‘til then



PS last Sunday night I was in the crowd out the front of the Opera House for the Crowded House concert. There’s a song I’ve been playing on the guitar this week and one lyric from it that I think is the perfect refrain to remember after a year like this one. When someone tries to build a wall between us, “They won’t win”. Here’s Crowded House with Don’t Dream it’s Over.

600 thoughts on “All Over, Red Rover? Federal Parliament’s 2016 Report Card

  1. I think the inquiry on how to clean a window with a vacuum cleaner would be a good time to retire from the board and pursue less intellectually demanding topics ..I see “would I lie to you” is on the tele…

  2. If anyone ever wanted to know the location of the Magdala battlefield here it is (after days spent poring over Google Earth, matching maps, drawings, photos and eye-witness desriptions to actual landforms).

    11.347141°N, 39.180013°E

    The story of Magdala qualifies as a genuine “ripping yarn”.

    This was not a story of conquest and empire building. Rather the opposite.

    While the Abyssinian Campaign (culminating in the taking of the “unassailable” fortress of Magdala) had very little loss of life on the part of the British Indian Army, and resulted in 100% success, the aim was not to expand the Empire. It was solely to rescue the European hostages held by the emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, universally regarded as one of the cruellest and most murderous (and mad) rulers of any African kingdom, anywhere (and there were plenty to choose from, over the years).

    After the hostages were rescued, at the end of a three month march by a British army assembled in India, under the command of Sir Robert Napier (a veteran of the Indian Mutiny and other sub-continental military and massive scale engineering campaigns, later Baron Napier of Magdala ),

    they turned around, marched back the three hundred miles to the Arabian Gulf, got on their ships and went home. They could have added Ethiopia to the British Empire, but pointedly did not.

    The chances of success were rated at almost zero before the expedition set out, which makes the total victory all the more remarkable. Alan Moorehead (in The Blue Nile) is quoted as writing:

    “There has never been in modern times a colonial campaign quite like the British expedition to Ethiopia in 1868. It proceeds from first to last with the decorum and heavy inevitability of a Victorian state banquet, complete with ponderous speeches at the end. And yet it was a fearsome undertaking; for hundreds of years the country had never been invaded, and the savage nature of the terrain alone was enough to promote failure.”

    Even Flashman was there and (by his account) did most of the “political” (and a good deal of “t’other”) legwork prior to Napier’s march.

    Incidentally you could do worse than to read Moorehead’s book,and his other great masterpiece,The White Nile. These are almost perfectly written history, not at all stodgy (rather, the opposite), real page turners that – to coin a phrase – “bring history to life” – perfectly honed by this great Australian author and journalist, now sadly mostly forgotten, in favour of some of the more recent local drivel written by so many who seem to have an eye on the Booker Prize, and, in a class of his own the ineffably boring Patrick White.

    (More on the Abyssinian Campaign and the BattleOf Magdala here: and here: )

  3. CK – I actually used a vacuum cleaner attachment to get rid of spider webs before using conventional methods to do the glass.

  4. this is trending on twitter… #DuttonsChristianXmasCarols

    a few examples

    • Citizen Angrybee,

      Unfortunately, the targets of this opproprium are more likely to take the abuse as an accolade.

  5. freefall852

    i read “All Quiet on the Western Front” aged 13 (just) at high school . A part of the NZ curriculum back then. It really struck a chord with me. We also ‘did” the likes of Wilfred Owen. They accorded with the NZ attitude to WWI at the time. Also with the attitude of my family , a g grandfather and his two bros went . One of them , Frank, may even have bumped into one of CTar1’s rellies. Frank in the Mounted Rifles CTar1’s rellie in the Light Horse.

    They all came back with a deep hatred of the great and the good that sent them on such a pointless slaughter. first to Gallipolii one sent home wounded, one sent on the Palestine campaign and the other to the slaughterhouse that was France. All became avid gardeners post war, all, despite being farmers, never used a gun on the farm . Something that has a message that I did not twig to until they had all died.

    I have told it here a couple of time but the words of “Uncle Frank” who was at Gallipoli and in “the Palestine” and the urgency of his voice as he told me, aged 10 ,at the Xmas family gathering, “If there is ever another war don’t you be stupid enough to go.” still shakes me. He was always this jovial old guy and it was a real shock to young me to see the depth of his emotion. i of course promised not to do so. Sadly i did not realise the importance of his words and what was behind it until after he had died. The Xmas day movie on at the time that provoked Frank’s outburst was Reach For the Sky.

  6. CTar,

    a quilt supposedly made of left over bits

    Perhaps. However, the two quilts I have made were definitely from leftovers – mostly generated by our family, some from friends, except for the plain material. Likewise for my mother’s nine or ten quilts. There’s a real history of clothes I’ve made for me mum, DD, and myself in most of them.

    • Now I think about it, my very first patchwork – a bedspread for my favourite doll – was entirely made from leftovers from various family members.

  7. Fiona – My mother was a quilter and also part of a quilting group.

    I used to get called in for the cutting part and was fairly expert with the cutting wheel and board.

    • CTar,

      Some of me mum’s larger quilts were also family affairs – me dad and OH doing the template cutting, moi doing the tacking of the material onto the template.

      Good fun, in many ways.

    • The day I realised my mother couldn’t work out anymore which bit to sew to what was a sad day.

    • CTar,

      The day I realised my mother couldn’t work out anymore which bit to sew to what was a sad day.


      May those sanctimonious pharisee politicians who won’t “permit” voluntary euthanasia rot in hell.

  8. Kaffeeklatscher,

    became avid gardeners post war, all, despite being farmers, never used a gun on the farm .

    My fathers eldest brother – Dan – didn’t get to be a gardener or to decide to stop shooting at things.

    He’s buried about 10klms s-w of Beersheba.

  9. Getting back to vacuuming windows, the Big, Important topic of the day –

    Spiders and window cleaning –

    I live in an area with a large spider population and the little buggers just love the tops of my wind-out windows. To prevent nasty surprises when vacuuming webs from windows I give everything a good going-over with surface spray the day before I clean. Then I just have to vacuum up dead spiders, not scary live ones.

  10. Leone,

    The other day I finally got around to doing that to the side mirrors of my car. I had to deal with a couple of rather large upset probably common house black spiders, for whom I have no empathy after my experience in January 2010.

    So, despite my dislike of pesticides, I will continue a very light spray when and where appropriate.

  11. My place has 4 skylights that are mounted at the top of about 5′ deep wells.

    The bloody Daddy Longlegs love them.

    • CTar,

      This is almost certainly an urban myth; nevertheless, I shall relate it.

      Allegedly the bite of a daddy longlegs is nasty, to the point of fatality. The good thing is that their jaws are too small to be able to inflict their deadly venom on large animals like humans.

  12. Fiona

    So sad was my yoof that I knew and to this day know the scientific name for Daddy Long Legs, Pholcus Pphalangioides 🙂

  13. While in Darwin for a year or so one of the unexpected things up there were the number of earthquakes felt. In my time there about 5 , usually gentle shaking but one was strong. All were reported to have been due to “an earthquake in the Banda Sea”. That we were gently rattled as far away as Darwin showed how powerful they were. Turns out the Banda Sea has a reason for why ‘there’s a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on”

    Huge hole in the ocean floor near Australia could cause catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis

    A tear in the sea floor 7km deep just north of Australia could cause disastrous earthquakes and tsunamis.

    The tear in the Earth’s crust is in the Banda Sea, near Indonesia, and measures about 60,000sq km – roughly the size of Tasmania.

    Geologists have now discovered the tear is one of the biggest faults on the planet

  14. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    John Hewson writes that praying for a Trump-like messiah won’t get us out of our mire.
    Peter Brent tells Turnbull he should get around to “spending more time with his family”.
    And Laura Tingle writes that 2017 is the year in which Turnbull needs to break out of the double negative. Google.
    Andrew Street asks Abbott’s confidants to tell him that he’ll never be PM again. This is a great read!
    Michelle Grattan on the big issues being beyond Turnbull’s reach.
    Greg Jericho writes that it is excellent that finally the treasurer has realised that there is good and bad debt, but he shouldn’t stop there. Rather than just have us guessing how much good or bad debt there is, the budget papers should tell us. This article is well worth spending some time on
    We not-so-very-clever Australians have seriously compromised the choices of future generations and are now a sitting duck for further exploitation, writes Dermot Daley.,9840
    Mental health experts justifiably lash ‘incorrect’ comments by Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott.

    The rise and fall of Eddie Obeid.
    How his son’s lie led to Eddie’s jailing.
    This SMH editorial says that Obeid’s sentencing was a win for public accountability in NSW.

  15. Section 2 . . .

    The judge dismissed pleas that “humiliating” media coverage of Eddie Obeid’s travails should serve to reduce the sentence.
    There are echoes of the 1990 depression in our youth jobless figures.
    Council meetings are being held in secret in order to hide the “embarrassing” behaviour of councillors, a detailed investigation into Victorian local government transparency has revealed.
    James Robertson says that Mike Baird should spend his $4b war chest on education rather than roads.
    The deregulation of funding under John Howard led to an explosion in profit in the aged care sector but staff and patients have not reaped the benefits writes Van Badham.
    Chrissy Pyne is in the new for all the wrong reasons.
    If it’s the $50 note that is the denomination of choice for the crims then who is using or holding all the $100 notes?
    Greenpeace reckons our labelling laws for imported seafood is insufficient.
    Michael West lifts the lid on what the outsourcing of TV transmission services has been costing us.

  16. Section 3 . . .

    The ACTU has got under the skin of Christian Porter and his ministerial colleagues with robocalls about the impending changes in the aged pension rules.
    This is just SO sick and embarrassing!
    The Australian’s David Crowe says pushing Turnbull to the right would hurt the Coalition. Google.
    Brandis hands out more jobs for the boys – including Nasty Nikolic.
    The ARM tells us that there is currently a majority of MPs supporting an Australian Republic. (With David Flint as the face of the monarchists it should be game over!)
    Another hit on the less well off from this government. This time it’s public dental services.
    Oops! James Packer pulls out of Macau.
    Actually it’s Potatohead himself that makes people’s blood boil.
    A judgement on the Timbercorp scam goes against hapless investors.
    I tend to agree with Telstra in this case.
    I don’t know whether or not I’ll take this offer up.

  17. Section 4 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Ron Tandberg with a Christmas message for Potatohead.

    A beauty from Peter Nicholson.

    Cathy Wilcox and the saviours of Aleppo.

    Andrew Dyson with a nice fiscal juxtaposition.

    Ron Tandberg throws Abbott’s comments back in his face.

    David Pope takes to pre-Christmas celebrations at Border Force.

    Mark Knight thinks Dan Andrews has a problem with crime rates.
    And Bill Leak is still at it.

  18. Karma.

    Did he slip or was he pushed?

    Lion hunting veterinarian dies after falling 100ft into ravine on a bird shoot
    Luciano Ponzetto previously said hunting was ‘not morally incompatible’ with his job as a vet
    “It looks like he slipped and fell when he was out hunting. He died instantly and there was nothing that could be done”

    • Why did they waste money getting the lo\wlife scum? They should’ve left him for the buzzards.

      I did like the comment suggesting he be stuffewd and put in a glass case or have his head mounted on a board toidisplay in the drawing room, or one leg be hollowed out for an umbrella stand.

  19. BK

    Wow, there is so much to read here. I don’t know how much I can accomplish today, second eldest grandson is 19 today and has asked to come here for his birthday. It is the first time we’ll see him on has actual birthday so we are a bit excited and fussing around to get everything just right. The bonus is we’ll see them on boxing day as well. Yippee.

  20. Big day today on the “HI” front. Can’t say why, but it involves a big change in organizational circumstances.

    They’ll either go feral, or come back talking sense (“sense” being all we wanted in the first place, with a bit of “decency” thrown in).

  21. I am flying to Geneva tomorrow for a short stay. We tried to book a tour of CERN but it was all booked out.
    I am NOT visiting His Downership.

  22. Gigilene,

    Being an ardent advocate of breast feeding myself (though never to the point of trying to shame women who don’t want to – and in some cases cannot do so) I relished your comment, and thank you for your good humour!

  23. I stayed in Geneva with my American girlfriend for a couple of weeks, the second of which was to be in the apartment of an Australian embassy staffer, referred to us by a friend of a friend in London.

    We spent some time in museums looking at other tourists. The Americans were a hoot…

    … but the apartment was so comfortable, and we had it all to ourselves for a week.

    The Friend Of A Friend consular guy was away in Zurich for a few days so, back at the apartment, one thing led to another between the girlfriend and I. Hormones took over. A swanky apartment, plenty of free food and drink, plus knowing looks will get me every time.

    Imagine our surprise when he caught us in front of the fire in flagrante delicto (as well as in our birthday suits) after he returned home unexpectedly, one day early.

    Broad-minded he was not. He kicked us out, shouting after us that we could expect a bill for the cleaning and disinfection of the hearth rug. Geez, we weren’t that messy!

    We left immediately for Munich, to try to catch the last night of Oktoberfest.It took us two days to hitchhike to our destination, sleeping in the snow at Karlsruhe overnight, before lobbing in Munich with only four hours to spare until the tents were upstumped.

    Can I say “We drank to excess”? My American girlfriend had this drinking trick she could do, dislocating her tonsils. She out-guzzled me 2-to-1. Repairing to the men’s pissoir, full of German beer and Dutch courage, I took the following photograph, which got me into a lot of trouble with the guy whose face you can see, turned around looking straight at me.

    The story of my rescue by a native Münchener, intervening between us there and then in that galvanized hellhole to broker a deal in German with the victim – for me to supply a copy of the photo (which I never did, to my shame) – is for another day. Suffice it to say that my Good Samaritan had a friend back at his swanky flat who had a penchant for blonde-haired, blue-eyed California girls with surfer-chick figures (my lady to a “T”). The Good Samaritan himself was partial to rugged Aussie boys with (at least then) nice bottoms. We ended up climbing out a window at 2am to escape those two, but that was a long four days later…

  24. So far I’ve finished Andrew Street’s book on Abbott. It was fun reading just how bad his government was from someone who wasn’t Nikki Savva this time.

    And Street’s epilogue is fantastic, about how humans as a species are meant to work together and do great things, while those that decide to go it alone just end up as bones in the sand. Really made me think.

    Now I’m returning to John Button’s biography. Interestingly, he was in Europe from 1957 to 1959, taking up a job as a lower class high school teacher in London. He certainly had been around – visiting Moscow to see exactly how it was under the Communists, as well as Italy, Berlin and Paris (he was almost caught up with the street violence in Paris over the Algerian War).

    Perhaps it’s a bit of provincial pride that Button was from Ballarat, but it’s a good read about the longest serving Leader of the Government in the Senate in history (a fact I just found out today – he outserved the 2nd longest, Howard’s Robert Hill by 3 months).

  25. Talking about toilets … As a woman, nothing is more embarrassing and disorienting than walking in a men’s toilet and having a man telling you with a grin: “wrong door”.

  26. Young Logan just completed the practical work on Electric Fence 1-01. He did not enjoy it but I’m sure he learned a lot!


    Also see

    Worth a watch!

  28. Hot off the presses…

    “As the stomach turns…”

    Dear Bushfire,

    As 2016 draws to a close it is a good time to reflect on the year that has passed.

    Let me begin by thanking you for your hard work and tireless dedication to our Party and our values. Without your support we would not have been able to achieve all that we have this year.

    There was no clearer display of your dedication than during the 2016 Federal Election. This election was critically important to Australia’s future and many thousands of our members rallied across the country to ensure that the Liberal Party was re-elected.

    I am so grateful to everyone who handed out at street stalls, made calls to their neighbours, stood up to the bullies on the other side, and manned the booths on election day. Our victory is your victory.

    It was your passion and commitment that got us over the line.

    From the time of our Party’s foundation by Sir Robert Menzies, we have stood up for hard-working Australians and their values of freedom, enterprise and reward for effort.

    We believe the role of government is to help enable Australians to do their best. Our opponents on the left believe government’s role is to tell people what is best.

    We stand for freedom of choice, having a go, and getting ahead with hard work whether on the land, in business, in a profession or public service or the myriad of occupations and vocations that our members pursue.

    Our values are timeless – but they have never been more timely than in this time of change, challenge and opportunity.

    The Government is focused on delivering for you and since the election we have been working hard and governing in your interests.

    The 45th Parliament has already achieved much.

    We have passed 48 bills, including those that took us to the double dissolution election: the Australian Building and Construction Commission restoration Bill and the Registered Organisation Commission legislation. The restoration of the ABCC will benefit the one million Australians and 300,000 small businesses working in the construction sector. The Registered Organisations Commission puts the interests of hard-working Australians ahead of the self-interest of union bosses.

    We have delivered $21 billion in budget repair. We are working to secure a future that does not burden our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt.

    We delivered income tax cuts for more than half a million middle income Australians by ensuring that they were not pushed into a higher tax bracket.

    We have expanded on our big export trade deals by entering into an enhanced strategic partnership with Singapore, delivering $2 billion in new investment in Queensland and more opportunities for our exporters.

    We amended the Fair Work Act to protect Victoria’s volunteers firefighters, the CFA, from a Labor-backed union takeover by the United Firefighters Union. Earlier in the year, we put 30,000 owner truck drivers back in business through the abolition of Bill Shorten’s onerous and unnecessary Tribunal.

    We have secured our borders – it has been more than 850 days since a successful boat arrival. But we must ensure that our laws continue to deter people smugglers and their evil trade. We are progressing legislation that will prevent unauthorised arrivals from ever getting a visa.

    We are also cleaning up Labor’s legacy of offshore detention centres by reaching a one-off arrangement with the US to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus.

    And in the last sitting fortnight, we passed three key counter-terrorism bills.

    Our priorities next year are to deliver on important reforms, to continue the task of budget repair, drive growth and jobs and guarantee funding for health, schools and vital infrastructure.

    Through our pro-growth, pro-investment policies, we will continue to provide the strong leadership Australia needs to navigate global economic headwinds.

    There is still so much more to do, but when I look to 2017 I am filled with optimism.

    Thank you again for your support in 2016.

    From Lucy and me, and our family, to you and yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, a relaxing and safe holiday and a 2017 filled with peace, happiness and love.



    Malcolm Turnbull
    Prime Minister

    • okay, Bushfire, you have deserted our (yours and mine) old school. So did I, James Ruse is where son #2 spent his secondary school years. (He didn’t make the HSC we-are-the-best photo but did tour Japan with the NSW CHS rugby team.)

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