John Howard is so desperate to dash to the polls, he will force
both Houses of Parliament to sit over the weekend – here comes the
August poll

As you read this final sealed section for the week, dear subscriber,
spare a thought for our hard-working federal politicians currently
stumbling through a massive pile of old legislation. Some of it so
ancient it ought to have been taken out and shot years ago.

How about key amendments to the Workplace Relations Bill – 1996! Or
fancy legislation to ban compulsory student union fees – 2003? How
about rushing through last-minute changes to the election rolls to
prevent folks from signing on after a poll is called? They’re being
dissected in the Senate right now.

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It’s a regular Bargain Basement sale of Tony Abbott’s Greatest
Legislative Hits – and Abbott has made it clear he wants Parliament to
sit until it’s all dealt with.

And that means, Abbott announced a few minutes ago, that Parliament
will be back at 9am tomorrow. Our history-challenged crew is struggling
to remember the last time that happened. We seem to recall Paul Keating
pulling that trick to ram through his Native Title legislation in
December 1994.

Why is this happening, you ask? Well, it’s not just Tony Abbott
exacting revenge on the recalcitrant Senate. It’s about clearing the
decks for the quickest possible election date of August 7. (Although it
could still be a later date and Sky News is pushing August 14 with the
election to be called straight after a Cabinet meeting scheduled for
two weeks time).

Stand by for another series of big giveaways and announcements next
week, before Howard goes for a cup of tea with the Governor General the
week after – probably Thursday 8 or Friday 9 July.

Then…it’s on.

Just look at how the decks are being cleared this week: Howard’s clean-up suggests early poll

As Labor sought to keep the Government honest by calling rapid-fire quorums, Abbott made clear his agenda:

“Alas I don’t think anyone can assume that he or she will be able to
get away today,” Abbott told the House. “I know that all of us are
starting to get a bit impatient at the fact that we are sitting late.
We would rather be back at home with our families in our electorates.

“Mr Speaker, there’s one reason we are still here. That is: the
Senate has not dealt with the legislation before it. Mr Speaker, the
House will not rise until the Senate deals with this legislation.

“And what this house will not accept is the process of filibustering in the Senate orchestrated by the ALP”.

That would be the Senate’s unhelpful practice of examining
legislation in committees, so it can be properly assessed by our
elected representatives – rather than rushing it through the chamber to
assist the Government’s unseemly rush to the polls.

Peter Costello wants us all to work till we drop. Well, Tony Abbott
is putting that into place in parliament – our federal pollies will sit
till they drop. Gotta fly – the bells are ringing again for another
Julia Gillard quorum.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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