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Federal

Jul 17, 2014

Rundle: inside the bloody red chamber as time disappears

The carbon tax was repealed at 11.14, but there's still a long way to go for this sitting of Senate.

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As the universe speeds up and heads towards heat death, everything speeds up and happens closer together until eventually everything is simultaneous and there is no time.

So too in the flaming bloody red of the Senate chamber, which is supposed to adjourn today. By late morning, the carbon tax repeal, the bill intended to go through with a flourish last Monday week, was still being debated and tick-tacked, and there were half a dozen other bills racked up and waiting to land.

The Senate is going to sit until 11 tonight if necessary, and is being threatened with sitting all the way through the weekend, although I suspect arson would take place before that occurred, given the current mood. And, as a kiss of the whip, Senator Cory Bernardi will be addressing the National Press Club today.

With the debate exhausted, the bill passed to an end game, going through endless divisions to draw it out as far as possible. With the deal thoroughly done, the PUP/micro/independent crossbenches installed themselves on the government side — including Ricky Muir, whose favoured cause, ARENA, the renewable energy agency, is being gutted financially by the bill. By now, the Coalition was getting seriously bubbly, as were some of the crossbenchers, with Jacqui Lambie yelling out an “oh yeah”. The lean and hungry Bernardi leaned over the benches to exchange yuk yuks with the equally elongated Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. They looked like two greyhounds enjoying the sun. Senator Ian Macdonald kept up the inflamed-prostate grumpy old man act, hurling interjections about “democracy” through final Greens and Labor speeches.

Thus did it pass at 11.14, the abolition of one big signature bill of the Gillard era, which now seems distant indeed. A pallid round of applause saw it out, after a parting valedictory by Greens Leader Christine Milne, aimed as squarely at PUP as it was at the Coalition. And after a half-beat, we started on the Asset Recycling Bill. With only the mining tax, Qantas ownership and land transport infrastructure to go.

No worries. We’ve got a whole half-day to go …

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