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Powered by article titled “Malcolm Turnbull declares national security is not a bravado issue – the day in politics” was written by Katharine Murphy, for on Wednesday 3rd June 2015 06.57 UTC

7.57am BST

Nighty night lovelies

Senator Joseph Ludwig at the senate foreign affairs, defence and trade committee this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Senator Joseph Ludwig at the senate foreign affairs, defence and trade committee this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Secretary of the department of foreign affairs and trade Peter Varghese and attorney-general George Brandis at the senate foreign affairs, defence and trade committee this afternoon
Secretary of the department of foreign affairs and trade Peter Varghese and attorney-general George Brandis at the senate foreign affairs, defence and trade committee this afternoon Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

A couple of pictures from that little Downer sortie in estimates before we part ways.

Today, Wednesday.

  • Leaks remained a focus. Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull denied they had spilled details of last week’s cabinet fight on citizenship revocations to the media. The industry minister Ian Macfarlane meanwhile confirmed the accuracy of the reports, which rather contradicted the prime minister’s description of them as false.
  • We may, or may not send more troops to Iraq if asked. Iraq has not yet asked.
  • Turnbull, while denying he was the source of the cabinet leak, took the opportunity to stand up for the rule of law when determining national security policy. There is a reason we constrain government power in a democracy, Turnbull said – it’s what makes us different from the tyrants and zealots who oppose our liberal values.
  • The government voted against a move by Labor which would have seen an immediate vote on the small business package which was supposed to be the super urgent business of this week.
  • Growth came in at 2.3%. The treasurer said good news.
  • Australian of the year Rosie Batty called for more action on family violence. Both the prime minister and the opposition leader pledged a bipartisan approach on this important issue.
  • Labor hacked away on the theme of government chaos. The prime minister hacked away on Bill Shorten’s many deficiencies.

That’s the sum of the parts. See you tomorrow.

7.41am BST

Those answers appear to have satisfied Joe Ludwig. The committee is moving on. And do must I shortly. I’m going to post a summary and then race round to see my good friends on ABC TV for The Drum.

7.37am BST

Alexander Downer in the spotlight at estimates

Labor has left Kangaroo Island now and is examining the business affairs of Alexander Downer, the former foreign minister who is now our man in London. Senator Joe Ludwig is interested in whether Downer still has an interest in the lobbying firm, Bespoke Approach.

Arbury Pty Ltd, a Downer company, lists its address as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is an unusual address, Ludwig notes. The Labor senator is interest in any perceived conflict of interest.

George Brandis:

Arbury Pty Ltd is not a trading company. Arbury is now Mr Downer’s only connection with Bespoke Approach.

He is not longer a director, he is a part owner of the company.

Brandis says Ludwig shouldn’t throw allegations around. He says there is nothing unusual about public servants having investments. He says Downer has taken steps to avoid any conflicts.

Secretary Varghese says Downer was required to disclose his interests when he was appointed.

It is common practice for officers on postings to list the department as the point of contact for all correspondence, either personal, business or official.

Brandis says again Arbury is not a trading company, it does not carry on business, or trade.

7.23am BST

Labor’s senate leader Penny Wong notes the South Australian trip included seven members of Julie Bishop’s ministerial staff. How many staff would she take to the UN, for example? DFAT secretary Peter Varghese isn’t entirely sure, but he thinks two staff.

Brandis says the high staff component reflected the fact a number of dignitaries needed to be looked after.

7.18am BST

If the foreign affairs estimates, Labor is on the trail of the costs associated with taking the entire diplomatic corps to South Australia and Western Australia. Trips out to Kangaroo Island. Catering by Maggie Beer. The costs are clicking up steadily. The minister at the table, George Brandis, is rather affronted by the line of questioning. He thinks this was a wonderful event.

7.04am BST

I’m just bouncing around various estimates hearings at the moment to make sure we are where we need to be. Back Son, as Winnie the Pooh once said.

6.39am BST

Point for Australia.

Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time in the house of representatives this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Treasurer Joe Hockey during question time in the house of representatives this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Point, then point again.
Point, then point again. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

6.32am BST

Time for some chamber pictures. Over to Mikearoo.

The prime minister Tony Abbott during question time in the house of representatives this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
The prime minister Tony Abbott during question time in the house of representatives this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
Chamber theatre
Chamber theatre, bend and stretch Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

6.24am BST

Further questions have been placed on the notice paper. I’ve been curious to see how Madam Speaker would rule in relation to an alleged prohibited selfie taken yesterday in the chamber by Tasmanian MP Brett Whiteley.

I gave you some footage of this on the blog yesterday. The footage is from a distance, so it is hard to tell whether or not the selfie was, in fact, taken – but there is an image of it. Madam Speaker says there’s no official footage so she can’t rule. Perhaps this means there’s no clear footage?

Small matter. Let’s power on.

6.15am BST

Bill Shorten mentions he attended Rosie Batty’s press club speech today. Yep, there he is.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten watches Rosie Batty address the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten watches Rosie Batty address the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Shorten says it was a privilege to hear Batty speak. He invites the prime minister to renew our parliament’s commitment to do what we can to eliminate family violence in Australia.

Tony Abbott says there will be more money to combat family violence.

Yes, it is about money, but above all, it’s about values, it’s a about a change of heart, it’s about men saying that we must always do the decent thing. If someone is weaker than us, if someone is more vulnerable than us, it is our duty to be a protector, not a persecutor. That is the resolution that all of us must make and towards that resolution I am only too happy to continue working with the leader of the opposition and other members of this parliament.

(Batty was mildly critical of Abbott’s efforts to date. She speculated that more funds may be forthcoming if we change the terminology to family terrorism.)

6.09am BST

Justice minister Michael Keenan had a dixer on ice. Now Labor is back on super. The prime minister waves the question to his treasurer.

Joe Hockey is brandishing a line from a speech the shadow treasurer Chris Bowen made earlier today. A clanger, Hockey says.

I tell you what, it was a clanger from the member for McMahon. He has belled the cat on this one.

He says what is happening in superannuation is indefensible and those words are going to swing around his throat.

In the event you are interested in what Chris Bowen said earlier today, here’s the relevant passage.

  • The government tells us that the aged pension is unsustainable but at the same time tells us the it doesn’t want to do anything to address the rapidly rising superannuation tax concessions. But the facts are this: the aged pension is set to grow by around 5% per year over the next four years. Superannuation earnings concessions are growing at more than four times this annual rate. Earnings concessions alone are set to double over the next four years to more than bn. It is indefensible to suggest we can leave superannuation tax concessions for another day. In fact it is completely irresponsible.

5.59am BST

Old Bill clammy hands Shorten is back.

Q: I refer to reports of the assistant treasurer’s statements today on changes to superannuation, ‘The government will of course consider good ideas put forward as part of the tax white paper process and any changes recommended by that process will be taken to the Australian people in the next election.’ So given that the prime minister has been rebuffed by the secretary of the treasury, the treasurer now the assistant treasurer, will the prime minister repeat his promise of never ever changes to superannuation?

The prime minister won’t, as it happens. He will repeat clammy hands, however.

Tony Abbott:

Madam Speaker, a very clear message, they (Labor and clammy hands) are coming after your super, Madam Speaker. They are coming after every dollar of savings that any Australian has put in a superannuation account. They are coming after the superannuation of the people of Australia.

5.51am BST

Tony Abbott is asked about David Murray’s comments from the Fin Review this morning – that the failure to reform our superannuation system will leave it more vulnerable.

The prime minister swerves past the head of the government’s financial services inquiry and talks about Bill Shorten’s clammy hands in your trouser pocket.

5.49am BST

Manager of government business Christopher Pyne is ventilating serious allegations made against Caesar Melham, a member of the Victorian parliament, who was the state secretary of the Victorian AWU – Bill Shorten’s old union.


He (Shorten) can demonstrate how seriously he takes that in two ways. He can today distance himself from Caesar Melham and the allegations that are being made and he can answer the question what, if anything, he knew about this practice when he was the national secretary of the AWU.

5.44am BST

The opposition leader has been asked to withdraw dog-whistling, which he apparently interjected a moment ago.

5.43am BST

Tony Abbott ploughs on.

In the face of this unprecedented threat to our national security, this government is taking every reasonable measure to keep the Australian people safe. And we know, Madam Speaker, and we don’t want to play politics about this because we know instinctively that anyone who raises a gun or a knife to an Australian because of who we are has utterly forfeited any right to be considered one of us. That is what we believe.

What do you believe? Do you want to keep citizenship, do you want dual national citizens to keep their citizenship?

Let’s just highlight a couple of things in this passage.

We know instinctively.

That is what we believe.

It’s an interesting threshold, isn’t it, for a far-reaching policy change. Instinct. Faith.

Updated at 5.45am BST

5.38am BST

Labor is persisting with the leaks.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.

It was an unprecedented leak about national security.

Tony Abbott:

Madam Speaker, we are facing an unprecedented challenge to our national security and all members opposite are interested in is gossip and trivia.

5.33am BST

Queensland’s Bob Katter is concerned that folks up north can’t afford fresh fruit and veggies.

The prime minister says dams will come up north because the dam phobia has broken; and the northern development white paper will address the underlying issues behind Katter’s question. Tony Abbott says the paper will also address land title issues up north.

5.27am BST

Bill Shorten.

Q: On Sunday the prime minister referred to leaks from cabinet on national security as false reports. But today the minister for industry said, ‘There has certainly been some very accurate statements made in newspapers in relation to discussions that were had in cabinet. Prime minister, who is telling the truth? You or your minister?

The prime minister is back, via Labor’s tedious obssession with the beltway, to the government’s very clear policy on citizenship. (The one we haven’t seen in detail yet.) He’s back with yesterday’s raising of guns and knives.

Tony Abbott:

Anyone who lifts a gun or a knife to an Australian because of who we are has forfeited any right to be considered one of us.

5.20am BST

We are creating the economic ecosystem to let small enterprises thrive and prosper.

That’s Bruce Billson, on why the government voted against putting the small business package to a vote.

Then, a zing off. Normally this is classic Bill Shorten territory. Today, the Billson bangs out the zing.

The only small business to benefit under Labor was the printer! You had to keep printing you business cards, five in 15-months. It was a printer-led recovery.

Son of Bill. The Billson.

5.16am BST

Two Dorothy Dixers on the economy and the national accounts. Treasurer Joe Hockey largely repeats his lines from the press conference earlier today.

5.13am BST

Labor’s Chris Bowen moves on to Bruce Billson.

Q: My question is to the minister for small business. Today the minister ridiculed Labor’s attempts to pass his small business bills because the Senate is not sitting. But yesterday in question time the minister said, ‘All we need is this parliament to pass the instant asset write-off and get it over to the Senate, so that when the Senate reconvenes one of their early orders of business can be to get these measures passed.’ Minister, what’s changed in less than a day?

Billson says the government voted the way it did today to give small business a day in the parliamentary sunshine. And what does Labor do? It gags this sunshine day for small business.

Speaking of sunshine, he ends thus.

Shabby tactics, sunshine.

5.06am BST

Question time

God, 2 o’clock. Here’s question time.

The Labor leader Bill Shorten opens today by asking why the government didn’t take the opportunity this morning to pass the bill it said it wanted to pass straight away. This is the budget’s small business tax measure. Labor pulled a tactical stunt this morning bringing on the vote the prime minister said he wanted. The government then voted against immediate consideration. Much crowing has ensued.

Tony Abbott:

Madam Speaker, the parliament certainly should pass these bills straight away. And if the leader of the opposition had his eyes open he would notice that the Senate is not sitting. The Senate is not sitting!

The prime minister says Shorten has pulled a childish stunt.

Abbott used to be enormously fond of those in opposition. But that was sooo yesterday.

4.41am BST

Ian Macfarlane forgets about coming to Jesus

We’ll leave the National Press Club now and plug back into the rolling business of politics. While I’ve been giving Rosie Batty some space on the live blog, the industry minister Ian Macfarlane has forgotten yesterday’s coming to Jesus and wandered front first into #StopTheLeaks

Macfarlane has done two things. He’s confirmed the reports of testy cabinet deliberations around citizenship revocation were accurate. (This would be the report described by the prime minister over the weekend as a false report.) He’s aslo suggested the person responsible might need, as the prime minister put it yesterday, to take the consequences of their actions.

Ian Macfarlane:

I am not going to speculate on what has happened. I don’t honestly know if someone has leaked and who has leaked. There has certainly been some very accurate statements made in newspapers in relation to the discussions that were had in cabinet.

Q: What should happen?

In the end if people can’t abide by the confidentiality of the cabinet room then they should leave the cabinet.

That should be their decision.

4.19am BST

Rosie Batty is asked whether violence stems from gender politics – and are we importing more gender problems through multiculturalism?

I think certainly some of the communities that come into Australia have significant issues within their own communities. We have got significant issues with our Aboriginal communities where a woman is at risk of I think 45 times more at risk of violence than we are, which is horrific.

However, it is absolutely a stereotypical Australian male, absolutely. There is nowhere to hide. It is absolutely.

You know, as men and as women we are born with our views of life from the moment that we breathe. You have your male sense of privilege and entitlement that you view through your lens. You don’t know any different.

As a woman, we know our place.

4.03am BST

Perhaps we should call it family terrorism?

Tory Shepherd from the Adelaide Advertiser at the NPC.

Q: Like everyone here I’m a big admirer. How would you rate minister for women’s work on domestic violence?

Rosie Batty addresses the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Rosie Batty addresses the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Rosie Batty, says of Tony Abbott:

I think we are seeing a well intended minister for women but we are not seeing strong leadership and conflict in decisions that are made, giving voice to support for victims of violence, but on the other hand lack of funding and making cuts to essential frontline services.

Again the recent concern that’s been brought to my attention is looking at means testing for women again seeking legal advice through community legal centres.

So we need to see strong leadership, we need to see investment, long-term strategies, bipartisan approaches. This is not going away. We have to clearly put some substantial funding into this issue.

You know, amazingly the response is when we describe terrorism and there is a slight threat of terrorism – the amazing responses we see.

So let’s start calling it family terrorism and perhaps we start to see that investment of funding being applied where it needs to be.

Updated at 4.47am BST

3.54am BST

More alarming statistics from Rosie Batty.

A growing number of Australians think that is a victim is at least partially to blame for instances of domestic and family violence. One in six think that women who say “No” really mean “Yes”. Attitudes among young people are particularly bad. According to recent research commissioned by Our Watch, one in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength. One in six 12-24-year-olds believe women should know their place.

If we want to tackle this violence, to stop it before it starts, we need to tackle these attitudes and beliefs. At the least, please don’t reinforce them.

3.49am BST


Statistics often wash over us so let’s reframe them. If this room was full of women, at least 50 would have experienced sexual assault. Let’s take a look around. If you have three sisters or three daughters, one of them will encounter violence. If you work with at least six women, one of them has experienced violence by a current or former partner.

Today, I ask you what we do now that the story of violence against women is finally out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

How can we take this opportunity and really explore what is driving this violence and what we can do to stop it before it starts?

3.44am BST

Rosie Batty – Australian of the year – is today’s special guest at the National Press Club. She’s speaking about her very quick transition from grief stricken mother to advocate.

Rosie Batty addresses the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Rosie Batty addresses the national press club in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

What I want to do is share my story.

You all know it and just over a year ago, Luke was murdered by an estranged partner, my estranged partner, Luke’s father Greg. The day Luke was murdered, I crashed in my bedroom and I woke to hear my friends, neighbours and everyone who was congregated in my home discussing what to do with the media who were congregating outside. They wanted to protect me. They wanted to make decisions on my behalf. But I’ve always been very independent and you might be right in assuming that I didn’t like them taking things in their hands on my behalf.

When I initially walked out of my gate into the road to address the media, I was initially going to tell you very nicely to please leave me alone and to go away because that’s what I understood you did, that’s what you did. But soon, I was encouraged to just make a comment.

I had no rehearsed script, I didn’t know what I was doing or saying, I was in shock. I was in disbelief, I was at a very raw point. So what came out of my mouth, I didn’t realise, was going to be unique, it was going to set change things for me, for victims of family violence.

At the time I didn’t think there was anything unusual about speaking. I just was hoping that I hadn’t embarrassed myself or embarrassed my friends and family. But very soon it became apparent and feedback came to me that journalists who were there on that day had been around for a long time, I’d never actually experienced this kind of response from a victim so soon after a tragedy and they were in awe and they were sharing grief with me in that very, very raw moment. Everyone actually expected me to be the crying victim, the blaming victim.

It’s been huge for me because I have seen the difference it has started to make and the power, the positive power for change that you are capable of generating.

I could not do this without you and I would not be here without you. You see now, the media see family violence as a topic worth reporting on. Now it’s newsworthy, but it wasn’t always the case.

We’ve been living with an epidemic for a very long time, forever.

Updated at 4.44am BST

3.37am BST

Hockey is asked what is the purpose of having a tax inquiry if the government keeps ruling everything out.

Obviously you are looking over the horizon as part of the taxation discussion paper.

He’s asked for a view on citizenship. Hockey says he’s here to talk about the national accounts, not other matters.

I support the discussion paper that’s out there.

The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Someone is back on the housing bubble. Hockey is back on the national accounts. Supply is increasing. Markets work.

Updated at 3.52am BST

3.32am BST

Come to Jesus, Joe.

The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

3.31am BST

Hockey is asked whether there a housing bubble.

He walks back to the national accounts.

Well, what we are seeing is that supply is actually increasing to meet demand but the very low vacancy rates in a number of cities, particularly in Sydney, illustrates there’s some way to go.

Updated at 4.10am BST

3.29am BST

I only come to Jesus in the confines of my home

Q: Can you explain to us what a “come to Jesus” moment is? Have you had one?

The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Treasurer Joe Hockey at a media conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Only in the confines of my home.

Updated at 4.11am BST

3.28am BST

Hockey is asked about superannuation – David Murray’s comments in the Financial Review which I referenced earlier. Is the government mishandling the super issue?

Enough about that, more about GDP.


I’m not going to give commentary on commentary. We’ve had a terrific set of numbers that came out today and those numbers have proven that there are some clowns out there that are talking about recession and dark clouds on the horizon. There have been proven to be looking foolish, those people, and we should be focussing on what is before us which is raw data that says the Australian economy is in the last quarter one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world. How good is that?

3.26am BST

The treasurer is asked about Western Australia, and the rebalancing in the economy post mining boom. He says no Australian state is in recession. He says clowns are talking about recessions.


From my perspective I think WA is coping quite well. It still has comparatively low unemployment. There is strong investment by the state government in infrastructure, the Commonwealth government is also assisting in that regard.

There’s no doubt that the transition has had an impact on WA from mining construction to mining production, as it has had a big impact in Queensland.

But having said that, you know, there are other parts of the economy that are growing and I have absolute faith in the capacity of the WA economy to grow.

3.23am BST

The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
The treasurer Joe Hockey at a press conference in the blue room of Parliament House in Canberra this afternoon, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Questions now.

Q: Treasurer, why do you think wages have fallen, wage income is down?


Well, wages aren’t falling.

Q: Wage income is down.


I think obviously at the moment we’re seeing strong employment growth. I think that’s coming through. We’re seeing strong employment growth. The economy is still below the 20-year average. But I also think you’re starting to see the impact of the fall in terms of trade, that’s having some impact as well. There’s multiple factors at play and inflation is at very manageable levels.

Updated at 3.51am BST

3.21am BST

Joe Hockey on the national accounts

Today’s national accounts confirm there is strong and broad-based momentum in the Australian economy. Real economic growth rose by 0.9% in the quarter to be 2.3% higher over the past year. This exceeds market expectations. This builds on growth, 0.3% in the September quarter and 0.5% in the December quarter last year. This is a good, solid result.

That’s the treasurer’s opening gambit on the growth figures. He notes these figures predate the May budget.

It’s worth noting that this strong economic growth occurred prior to the 2015 budget which will build further momentum in this area.

This growth is broad-based. Growth in exports, household spending, services and new dwellings confirms that the government’s economic plan is working. Indeed, Australia 0.9% growth in the March quarter makes us one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world and faster than any of the G7 in the quarter.

Hockey goes to housing. Bubble? Not so much is the inference. I presume he’ll get questions.

We are seeing encouraging new investment in housing supply nationally with housing investment rising by a strong 4.7% in the quarter and 9.2% over the past 12 months. So there is clear evidence of a construction response to elevated house prices. This additional supply is expected to continue with a large pipeline of housing approvals and record low interest rates.

3.06am BST

Bowers bounty.

Bruce Billson from his press conference before on the horticulture code of conduct brings a little Carmen Miranda to Wednesday.

Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce and small business minister Bruce Bilson at a press conference to announce a review into the Horticulture code of conduct in the senate courtyard of parliament house Canberra this morning, Wednesday 3rd June 2014.
Small business minister Bruce Billson at a press conference to announce a review into the Horticulture code of conduct in the senate courtyard of parliament house Canberra this morning, Wednesday 3rd June 2014. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Barnaby Joyce, for his part, just makes off with the fruit.

Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce makes off with an apple.
Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce makes off with an apple. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

No onions were harmed in the snapping of these hijinks.

By the by if you are concerned I’ve forgotten the economy I haven’t. The treasurer is coming up shortly on the growth figures.

2.45am BST

Come ‘ere darlin’

The speaker Bronwyn Bishop with Warren Entsch and Ken Wyatt at the unveiling of a painting by indigenous artwork by Mavis Ngallametta called “bushfire at Ngak-Pungarichan 2013” on the mezzanine level of the marble foyer in Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday 3rd June 2015. Photograph by Mike Bowers for Guardian Australia #politicslive
The speaker Bronwyn Bishop with Warren Entsch and Ken Wyatt at the unveiling of a painting by Indigenous artist Mavis Ngallametta called Bushfire at Ngak-Pungarichan 2013 on the mezzanine level of the marble foyer in Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

That’s how the Liberal MP Warren Entsch greeted Madam Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, at the unveiling of a new artwork for the building a bit earlier today.

Darlin’ looks happy to comply.

Updated at 2.47am BST

2.40am BST

Growing but not blazing

As you’ve probably gathered, many planes are trying to land on the Politics Live runway right now.

The new economic growth figures have just been made public.

Growth was 0.9% for the quarter, and the annual rate is 2.3%

2.34am BST

The Labor leader Bill Shorten is at Dickson College. He’s asked about The Killing Season. He says the program deals with history.


I think I have been very fortunate to have quite a marvellous run of unity within the Labor party.

(This is true. He has been lucky. The luck is being tested, though, in the runup to Labor’s national conference. Bit of disunity going on in that space.)

Down in a parliamentary courtyard, the small business minister, Bruce Billson, and the agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, are fielding questions. One wag asks the two men whether they have now come to Jesus.

Bruce Billson:

I thought Barnaby’s speech was impressive but I wouldn’t characterise it in that way.

Updated at 2.49am BST

2.23am BST

Back briefly to estimates, Australia’s top diplomat, Peter Varghese, has warned all parties against provocative or unilateral actions in the South China Sea. The quote marked in bold is mildly interesting given the events of this week.

Venturing a general opinion on a broad question that did not address speculation about potential Australian surveillance missions over China’s artificial islands, Varghese said:

It’s a serious issue and it’s one that needs to be carefully managed because the potential for this to develop into a major security concern is clearly there. Australia has a longstanding position of not taking a position on the merits of competing claims in the South China Sea, of which there are many. We do however have a very strong view that these issues should be resolved peacefully, that they should be resolved in accordance with international law, and that all parties should refrain from actions which are provocative or coercive or unilateral in their implementation. We think that it’s important for competing claims to be resolved through peaceful means. We would encourage China and the Asean states to conclude a code of conduct on handling this matter in the South China Sea and we think that it’s important that basic principles of international law are consistently upheld in dealing with this matter.

Updated at 2.50am BST

2.20am BST

I need to catch up on a couple of points we had to race past because of the cluster of events.

Walking back to the small business vote, Bill Shorten, in his speech to parliament before the procedural vote, cast his party as a more constructive opposition than the one Tony Abbott led.

The reality is Labor is actually better. We understand that all the political points to be made aside, we think that the period that Tony Abbott was opposition leader was one of the bleakest periods of this nation. We are different in opposition to Tony Abbott and his team when they were in opposition. We are cut from a different cloth. We will judge these measures on small business not by the puerile point scoring that we’ve seen over the last 22 days where the government engages in some sort of existential angst ‘will they or won’t they?’ when we’ve already said that we will.

But we should note Shorten did not unequivocally back the small business package. He said he hoped the government had done its homework:

We want to help grow the economy and we want to grow jobs. But I have to sound a note of caution about this legislation. We most certainly will vote for this package especially the increased instant asset write-off but we do so trusting that this government has done its homework in between leaking on each other on national security matters. We trust that this government has done it’s homework and we trust that the plan will be properly implemented and directed for the purpose intended.

(Thanks to Daniel Hurst for these quotes.)

Updated at 3.09am BST

2.15am BST

I suspect if you’ve taken the time to read Turnbull in the last two posts then you already know what he’s saying, but if you are pretending to work so the boss doesn’t catch you reading the blog at length – let me summarise.

Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull speaks to the media as he visits an NBN rollout site in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, Wednesday, June 3, 2015.
Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull speaks to the media as he visits an NBN rollout site in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
  1. Malcom Turnbull is saying in esssence, that stripping Australian nationals of their citizenship in cases where they are not dual nationals is a bridge too far. It is particularly a bridge too far if the government assumes that power for itself with no constraint by the courts.
  2. He says, quite correctly in my view, that Daesh hates countries like Australia, democracies, checked by the rule of law, with open and accountable governments – because that system offends their tyrannical and perverted world view.
  3. In Turnbull’s view, you don’t respond to that threat by throwing liberalism out the door, you respond by cherishing liberalism, and pursuing evidence based policy. National security is not about bravado.
  4. He also points out that people of intelligence and good will can have different views about where you draw the line in a policy sense.

Updated at 3.16am BST

2.03am BST

Not a bravado issue

The communications minister adds national security is not a bravado issue.

Malcolm Turnbull:

I think what we need to do is to make sure that we get the balance right, but in terms of national security and counter-terrorism laws we have to do – and this is the government’s commitment – it is not good enough that laws simply be tough, you know, this is not a bravado issue, it’s they’ve got to be the right laws.

You’ve got to get the measure right.

Updated at 2.09am BST

2.00am BST

Peak Malcolm

The communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is in Queanbeyan. The subject of cabinet leaks has followed him there. I encourage you to read these answers in full, because it’s rather superb, particularly the final answer.

I’ll decode them in the next post.

Q: How serious is a leak from cabinet and what do you believe the personal and political consequences are?

Malcolm Turnbull:

I think the leaks from the cabinet, leaks from government, leaks from cabinet committees are very bad. They’re deplorable. The fact of the matter is you’ve got to be able to talk to your colleagues in a confidential fashion. There’s nothing lacking in transparency about that but you’ve got to – you should be able to have a confidential discussion and then when a decision is reached there should be a formal announcement. I think there’s been far too much of this over some time and I’m glad that maybe this has all been a bit of a wake-up call and I think part of the problem is that you can be misrepresented.

Q: Have you been misrepresented?

You’ve asked me about whether I was misrepresented on citizenship. I’m not going to comment on the reports in the press obviously but only to say that you should not assume that they – that it is either a comprehensive or an accurate or a complete account. Let me deal with this because this is a very important issue. Citizenship – issues of citizenship and national security are absolutely critical. It is hard to think of issues that are more important.

In debates like this you’re dealing with national security and the rule of law. Neither can exist without the other.

Q: Can I take you to the next logical step, what about removing the sole citizenship of someone on a basis a minister may suspect that person is a terrorist. Is the any way under the rule of law you believe that could stand?

That’s an extremely good question and the answer is that the Australian government’s policy as stated by the prime minister and immigration minister and indeed I think all ministers is that we would not, we cannot, we do not render any citizen stateless.

Section 35 of the existing law says we cannot render a citizen stateless because they’ve got to be a national of another country – so that is the law. We are party to a UN convention about statelessness which obliges us not to take actions to render someone stateles. I think the answer to that is very clear.

Q: On the next step and in the words of Thomas More, would you knock down every law in the land to get at the devil or give the devil the benefit of the law for safety’s sake?

Chris, like you I’m a great admirer of Thomas More but I just say this to you, that people – everyone, every Australian, every minister, every member of parliament, every journalist is committed to the national security of Australia but we’re also committed to the rule of law and what is the rule of law?

The rule of law means that the law applies to everybody. It applies to all of us, it applies to big companies, little companies, it applies to the government. You see, look, what is the essence of a democracy? Some people would say a democracy is one where the majority get to do what they want. That’s not a democracy. That’s a tyranny.

The genius of a democracy governed by the rule of law, our democracy, is that it both empowers the majority through the ballot box, and constrains the majority, its government, so that it is bound by law because otherwise you would have a situation – why has the Arab spring failed? In many respects I think it’s because there has been a failure to understand that a democracy must not just empower the majority and its government, but must restrain it. That’s why we have laws which restrain and restrict the actions of government so that it is bound by the law and getting that balance right in every debate.

Why does Daesh hate us? Why do they want to kill us? Why do they want to kill, destroy our society? They want to destroy us because they hate the rule of law. They hate the fact that the government has to stand up – can be stood up by citizens and held to account.

They hate the fact that we have freedom of speech. They hate the fact that we are a free society governed by law not just by whatever the direction of one religious leader is from time to time. So our freedoms are absolutely critical and it is important that we have a debate about this but I just want to be very clear.

Let me put this to you – I’m not going to go into any further detail about this but some people like to suggest that some people are tougher on terrorism or tougher on national security than others.

Let me say this to you – honest people, knowledgeable people, really well-informed people can have very different views about what the right measures are on national security and have very different views about the right balance between, say, citizenship and national security.

Updated at 7.33am BST

1.43am BST

So let me confirm that – the government has just voted against voting now on the small business tax relief measure. The debate has moved into the second reading stage. Liberals are describing Bill Shorten’s tactical flip as a cheap stunt.

Which of course it was. An effective one, though.

A normal person may ask, if the government has been saying “clear the decks to get this measure passed”, why it would vote against getting the measure passed?

Well, that’s simple. A bunch of government MPs want to speak to the bill in order to circulate the speeches in their electorates telling small business how much the government loves them. One must be seen to love small business. You can’t get credit for good deeds if no one sees you doing good deeds.

Oh, and it would throw the chamber schedule into a degree of chaos. Chaos, exhibit A.

Updated at 1.47am BST

1.30am BST

Tactics and strategy

Labor has been having fun down in the chamber this morning. The House is considering the government’s small business tax break from the budget. This is the measure the prime minister has been saying all week needs to pass right now. This is why we couldn’t do same-sex marriage this week – because the tax relief was super urgent.

The Labor leader Bill Shorten made his second speech supporting the measure. Then he moved that the vote be put immediately.

The government is currently voting against voting on its own measure. Let me repeat that. The government is voting against urgent consideration of a measure it has been charactering as urgent.

Fun times.

Updated at 1.40am BST

1.09am BST

Over in the foreign affairs committee, Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong is on the Brady case. There were reports that Australia’s ambassador to France, Stephen Brady, offered to quit his post after he was told that his same-sex partner could not greet the prime minister, Tony Abbott, at a Paris airport. Ambassador Brady’s partner was asked to wait in the car.

The minister at the table, the attorney general, George Brandis, says the incident on 25 April was an entirely routine arrival. The secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Peter Varghese, says ambassador Brady did not offer his resignation. But he declined to answer a follow up question about whether resignation was canvassed in subsequent discussions.

Wong asks Varghese about reports in the Daily Telegraph characterising ambassador Brady as a dummy spitter. Is the ambassador a dummy spitter?


I never consider Mr Brady a dummy spitter.

Wong asks Varghese about a statement issued to the Daily Telegraph by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet about the incident which stated that asking Brady’s partner to wait in the car was fully in line with official protocols. The statement to the Tele said that partners of ambassadors only come on to the tarmac when the prime minister is accompanied by their spouse.

The statement said:

Longstanding and ­accepted practice has been for spouses/partners to form part of an official greeting line at the airport on arrival into a country when the prime minister is accompanied by his/her spouse. These arrangements are consistent with how incoming heads of state and heads of government are greeted in Australia.

Varghese says Dfat was not consulted about the statement before it was released. He said he read it in the media. He said he sought a copy from PMC after he saw it in the media.

Brandis insists there is nothing to this incident. He says the prime minister is a strong supporter of ambassador Brady and his partner – he appointed him head of mission.

Updated at 1.34am BST

12.46am BST

Back in estimates, Greg Medcraft, the coprorate regulator, is being asked about the housing bubble that the treasury boss, John Fraser, identified on Monday. The housing bubble has become something of a political football over the past 24 hours. When the Labor leader Bill Shorten asked about it in question time yesterday, the prime minister accused him of wanting to bring down the value of people’s houses.

Greg Medcraft is keeping it simple.

The message to everyone is quite simple.

Be careful. Interest rates will not stay where they are. It’s also a message to lenders.

Make sure that you do your numbers. Make sure you can afford it.

12.42am BST

The Australian Financial Review’s cartooning genius David Rowe shared his take this morning on cabinet’s come-to-Jesus moment. Now I’m sharing it with you, thanks to the always delightful Jane Cattermole.

Updated at 12.43am BST

12.29am BST

Bombshell, or just a nudge?

Estimates hearings are rolling on this morning. Greg Medcraft from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is telling the economics committee he wants more civil penalties to drive substantial cultural change in the corporate sector.

The deputy chair of the economics committee, Labor’s Sam Dastyari, wants to make sure we haven’t missed this development.

This is a bombshell Mr Medcraft, says the committee chair, Liberal senator Sean Edwards.

Greg Medcraft:

Not a bombshell, just a nudge.

12.11am BST

Another good story in the Australian Financial Review. David Murray, the chairman of the financial system inquiry, has warned the government risks making Australia’s trillion superannuation system more vulnerable by refusing to reform the regime.

David Murray:

If the system is left as it is, it means that people who have money in the system [will continue] to understand so little about how it works generally and how it benefits them. If people are disengaged, politics becomes easier to play. Disengagement drives politicisation of the system and people will start to question why we have it.

Updated at 12.22am BST

12.03am BST

My delightful neighbour, Andrew Probyn from the West Australian, appears to be in possession of another cabinet leak. Open skies. Out the back door. Over to Andrew.

Another split in federal cabinet has opened just a day after Tony Abbott threatened to sack leakers in a ministerial face-off the prime minister described as a “come-to-Jesus moment”. The West Australian understands that trade minister Andrew Robb is furious that his proposal to open up northern Australia to international airlines was dumped by cabinet colleagues yesterday in his absence. It is understood Mr Robb, who is having a back problem fixed, believes his proposal has been misrepresented inside the government and fell victim to vested interests in the airline industry. Treasurer Joe Hockey formerly supported Mr Robb’s proposal to allow foreign carriers to fly to airports north of the Tropic of Capricorn but has backflipped.

Updated at 12.26am BST

11.51pm BST

Ice, ice, baby. Gorgeous picture from Mike Bowers.

Ice crystals on the windscreen and a chilly minus start to the parliamentary day, Wednesday 3rd June 2015.
Ice crystals on the windscreen and a chilly minus start to the parliamentary day on Wednesday 3 June. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The MPs speaking to reporters at the doors this morning are fire-breathing dragons, billowing steam.

Updated at 11.54pm BST

11.37pm BST

Labor sharpening the knives

To Labor now, and episode one of The Killing Season, which kicks off next week. As I said first up, episode one is a slowish boil (I mean this as a compliment, the opening sets up the bedrock for the drama that will inevitably follow. The recap reminded me of various things I’d almost forgotten, which I found useful, given I do so much live work I’m in danger of turning into a goldfish.)

For folks who like their politics served with a healthy side of conflict and intrigue, fear not. There is thunder and light shows, and plenty of arch asides. An amazing number of people appear on camera, including staff, which is kind of interesting. Once political staff were rarely seen and never heard. Now they are all setting up book deals. Anyhow, sorry, I digress.

The practice drama in episode one sees Julia Gillard recounting an anecdote in which she claims Kevin Rudd bullied her.

I was the convenor of our parliamentary tactics committee, as manager of opposition business. Kevin was always very anxious to, you know, strut his stuff in question time, and tactics hadn’t gone his way. I’d taken a view about something else forming the issue of the day, and after the tactics meeting broke up he quite physically stepped into my space, it was a quite bullying encounter, it was a menacing angry performance.

Rudd, vibrating ever so slightly with leashed anger.

That is utterly false, utterly, utterly false.

All politics tragics will have their own favoured morsels. For me, Labor’s Jenny Macklin is the clear winner of episode one. She recounts various stories where Kevin Rudd’s strengths are on full display – his determination to deliver the apology to the stolen generations, and his inclusive spirit in the lead-up to that moment; and his compassion to victims of the Victorian bushfires. Footage backs up Macklin’s voiceover.

But she also acknowledges the complexity of Rudd’s personality, not in score-settling terms, but in anthropological terms. Host Sarah Ferguson asks Macklin to reconcile the two Kevins – cranky Kevin and compassionate Kevin. Macklin simply notes that people are complex.

My colleague Lenore Taylor has written a preview of the episode, which you can read here.

Updated at 11.52pm BST

11.15pm BST

More Australian troops in Iraq?

I’ll complete Julie Bishop’s morning before doubling back to Labor.

As I mentioned first up, the foreign minister is in Paris at a conference discussing the threat posed by Islamic State. The Iraqi prime minister at this meeting has called for more resources to combat the threat. Bishop met the Iraqi PM bilaterally at the conference.

Speaking to reporters at a doorstop, Bishop did not rule out sending more Australian troops to Iraq. Australia is already the second-largest contributor to the coalition.

Julie Bishop:

We haven’t been asked [but] if a request is made we will consider it.

Subsequently she’s done a radio interview with the ABC where she’s made it clear there has been no specific request from Iraq for more Australian troops.

That was not specifically requested. There’s certainly no request for combat troops on the ground.

The prime minister didn’t ask for more troops, nor did I offer them.

She’s been asked what our response would be if Iraq made a request. This is hypothetical, she says.

Updated at 11.33pm BST

10.57pm BST

Good morning everyone and welcome to Wednesday morning. After a nourishing bowl of some gluten-laden goodness I’m ready to face whatever the political day brings. Bring it politics. You know we are ready.

It’s a morning of leaders and deputies. Last night I watched a preview of the first episode of the new ABC documentary, The Killing Season, which is about the last Labor government. Episode one is a relatively sober and tame and historical affair, but there’s also much foreshadowing of the poisonous relationship between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Rudd in particular looks like a corked volcano. More of this shortly.

To our next leader and deputy pairing. Good blogans and bloganistas with me yesterday will know that Tony Abbott told his colleagues to stop leaking, or they would face the consequences of their actions. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, they all came to Jesus. (I did make inquiries late yesterday about who Jesus was in this prime ministerial parable, and the guidance was it was a moment of awakening.) No one was Jesus in other words, or perhaps they all were.

In any case, let’s not get bogged down in the casting call. It will disrupt the recount. The Abbott declaration yesterday followed a highly damaging blow-by-blow account of last week’s cabinet meeting turning up in the Sydney Morning Herald. Abbott’s deputy, Julie Bishop missed coming to Jesus with her party room colleagues yesterday, because she was in Paris.

In Paris, Bishop declared she was Not The Leaker.

Julie Bishop:

It was not me.

Bishop was asked on ABC radio to define leaking given there was a pretty obvious pattern of leaking to News Corporation publications which didn’t seem to be covered by the Abbott definition of prohibited behaviour. Was she concerned about that leaking? Bishop, not being born yesterday, stepped neatly around that one. The Abbott cabinet was not the first cabinet in the history of Australia to leak, she noted. (True, that.)

For the record, Politics Live is open, attentive and receptive to all leaks. I also welcome readers on board this morning by throwing open the comments thread. Get into it. You can also get into it on the Twits. I’m @murpharoo and Mikearoo, my partner in bricks and kale chips, is @mpbowers

Buckle in. Here comes Wednesday.

Updated at 11.25pm BST © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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