Blogging from the Chamber

Political correspondent Christian Kerr writes:

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi may have lectured
his young MPs.“Don’t send emails on your cell phones in parliament
while in session. You can be seen very clearly from the prime
minister’s seat. You should really stop that — it’s disgraceful” – but
Canadian Conservative MP Monte Solberg
may have made history as the first politician to blog directly from the
floor of a parliamentary chamber, using his Blackberry PDA.

Canadian politics has been pretty exciting by any standards over recent
weeks, with the Liberal government shuddering under constant blows over
corruption scandals, so no wonder Solberg got excited: “I hope this
posts. Am Blogging from my Blackberry in the House where I have just
voted for our non-confidence motion. The Libs are trying hard to play
this down. They have two cabinet ministers out, Efford and Cotler.
We’ll win, but they’ll claim it’s non confidence.”

Several of our own pols are blogging away – Democrat Andrew Bartlett has one of the best sites.
Who’s going to be the first to make this breakthrough here – and what
will the standing orders say. Will the Speaker or Mr President spoil
the party?

Whaling – John Howard’s breakthrough

Japan’s “scientific” whaling – which seems to large consist of finding
out what they taste like – has been in the news over the weekend.

The PM came out this morning, too, waving a big stick – as AAP reports here.
“We are friendly with Japan, we have a good relationship with Japan,
but this is an issue where we disagree with Japan and we disagree very
strongly,” he told 2GB.

He also identified a hitherto unknown species of cetacean during the interview. Listen very, very carefully to this audio file.

The plod and politics don’t mix

When seven people were killed on South Australian roads over the Easter long weekend, SA Police Commissioner Mal Hyde suggested the toll may have been lighter if police had not been diverted by protests at the Baxter detention centre.

“Those protesters need to consider that the results of their protests
means that we’ve got less people on the road dealing with road safety
and so quite clearly we could have perhaps had a better result,” Commissioner Hyde said.

It’s a long weekend in South Australia again with a public holiday
today. By late yesterday evening, six people had been killed on the
state’s roads. There are no protests to point to this weekend. What’s
PC Plod’s excuse this time? Or was he just – as our police are
increasingly forced to do – making up excuses for the state government
at Easter to cover for inadequate road maintenance and safety programs?

Discretionary expenditure?

The Weekend Australian was enlivened on Saturday by an ad on
page six slamming the Western Australian Government for not cutting its
taxes as required by the GST agreement between the commonwealth and the
states. “It’s time for the WA Government to end double taxation,” it
concluded. Who placed it? A business group? Er… at the bottom of the
ad runs the usual “Authorised by the Australian Government…” line.

So we have an ad that appears to be political – yet funded from
consolidated revenue. Even more blatantly political than the Howard
Government’s already extensive and expensive promotional campaigns. A
sign of things to come after 1 July?

Defence of the realm

“Mr Speaker, this year’s Budget continues the government’s strong
commitment to Australia’s national security,” the treasurer said on
Tuesday. Indeed. Other government members are demonstrating their
national security credentials. Like Indi MP Sophie Panopoulos. She has
recently joined the Naval and Military Club, located on our new
frontline of Little Collins Street, Melbourne.

Beazley’s Budget bluster

A subscriber writes:

“Have you thought of pointing out that, despite all of Beazley’s bluster
about not including politicians in the tax cut bonanza, under his
scheme the top threshold only applies to the last $6,770 of a back
bencher’s salary? Have a look at the Remuneration Tribunal site.”

Christian Kerr writes:
Nice to see that the Labor Party has corrected its website
since Kimbo gave his Budget Address in Reply speech on Thursday night.
Then, it credited the effort to Wayne Swan. Presumably, the last thing
the would-be leader wanted was to be linked with this crock.