From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Most exciting time to be alive. Yesterday in the Senate felt like a great lesson in “How not to govern 101”, with senior members of the government regaling the chamber with their love for the Australian flag, the nice man from Tallarook (but what’s his name again?), and each other in the morning, followed by Derryn Hinch reading his complete policy platform and using parliamentary privilege to its full effect in the afternoon. Was the country moved forward in any way at all? Not so much. While Senator James McGrath opened the morning’s filibuster with an ode to the flag and a side note to Last Night at The Proms, he also took a long time to single out colleagues dispatched by voters at the last election, including Wyatt Roy:
James McGrath: In a conversation with him the other day, he mentioned that he could come back into politics in 10 years time and would only be 37. Needless to say, I punched him! Wyatt is someone whose best days are still ahead of him. What he achieved for Longman shows what he can achieve for Australia. I wish him the best.
James McGrath: Ewen Jones is probably the funniest man alive. I was his campaign director — as well as Wyatt’s, actually — back in 2010. After I had a couple of meetings with Ewen, I realised he was extremely funny and I issued an edict to him as his campaign director. That was: please, stop making jokes because the left do not have a sense of humour and they will not see that you are just a funny person; they will use political correctness to attack you. The good thing is that Ewen totally ignored me and continued making jokes. I suppose a good thing and a bad thing about Ewen is that, as this larger than life, funny person, people often mistook him or failed to see that underneath Ewen’s skin is someone who strongly believes in the concepts and the power of the individual and of liberalism. He often upset his own party with his views.”
Senator Bridget McKenzie was tripped up when she couldn’t remember the name of a Nationals candidate in the seat of McEwen, but at least she could remember which football team her new colleague Damian Drum played for:
Bridget McKenzie: And I know Damian Drum, as the local member, will do an absolutely fantastic job in representing that community and their needs and interests in this place. He has a strong sense of community. He was born in Congupna, just down the road from Shepparton — but don’t try to tell him he’s a Shep boy; he’s very much a Congupna boy. He went on to play AFL for the Cats — the mighty Cats. Thank you very much for that result on Friday night.
Marise Payne: Go, Cats!
Bridget McKenzie: Go, Cats!
Senator Matthew Canavan also talked about a chia plantation he was lucky enough to visit. It really is the most exciting time to be a senator.
Atomic wedge. A group of businessmen has taken out a full-page advertisement in The Australian to encourage the government to ditch its plan to buy diesel submarines from French company DCNS. Gary Johnston, founder of Jaycar Electronics, along with businessman (and close friend) Dick Smith, John Singleton, Boyd Munro and John Tait took out the advertisement warning that the plan to re-engineer a nuclear submarine design to a diesel-powered submarine would be a repeat of the Seasprite Helicopters, the botched acquisition of which cost the government $1.4 billion.
Johnston told Crikey this morning: “It’s just a giant fraud that the Defence Department are trying to foist on the public.”
“I don’t know if Marise Payne and Malcolm Turnbull are aware of what the Defence Department are trying to do.”
Johnston says that nuclear submarines would suit Australia’s needs better than diesel submarines, but that he has not spoken to anyone in the Defence Department or to anyone in government about his views. He said the submarines shouldn’t be built in Australia, a view at odds with fellow signatory Dick Smith’s longtime commitment to Australian manufacturing.
Johnston says that he and Smith have been discussing the issue for some time, but decided not to run an advert during the election campaign as they didn’t want to derail the news agenda. Asked what the next step from here would be, Johnston says he hopes the media will follow the story: “I’d like to think that some highly motivated journalist would write a book about it.”
It’s not the first time Johnston has taken to the media to get his views out, using a full-page ad in The Australian in 2006 to call for people to increase the birth rate.
No one asked for it, but here it is. For those in the world who can’t get enough of Senator Cory Bernardi, the conservative South Australian Senator and leader of the right-wing version of GetUp says he is starting a podcast to keep everyone up to date with his musings. In a short audio preview yesterday, Bernardi said that he had previously done audio updates, but now he’s back with the “Common Sense Podcast”, a partner to his weekly newsletter “Weekly Dose of Common Sense”. He wants it to be an “easy to access common sense” and says he will be unscripted for a few minutes every day. Which is a wonder because we never thought he was scripted before.
Bernardi has already updated the podcast today, giving his view on the announcement that the cabinet had made a decision on the wording, date and funding of the marriage plebiscite. Bernardi said the question asked should not contain “marketing slogans” or be “loaded”, giving his approval to the agreed-upon wording, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. He also gives the tick of approval to the timing and funding of the plebiscite and labels Bill Shorten’s claim that young LGBTI people would be at risk of suicide due to a plebiscite debate as “vile, emotional baggage to lay on people” who do not want marriage equality.
The jig is up! Senator Malcolm Roberts will try to follow up Derryn Hinch’s marathon first speech with his own introduction to the Senate this afternoon, and in preparation Greens Senator Nick McKim tweeted that he was “off to my final Illuminati/Agenda 21 meeting before Senator Roberts blows the lid off the conspiracy tomorrow”. We hope he paid his respects to Beyonce, Queen of the Illuminati.