1. ScoMo shows how not to govern
Couldn’t resist this Mark David cartoon:
According to Tony Bourke:
- it’s almost impossible [for Labor] to get a criticism of the Government into newspaper articles when you are competing with all the Liberal and National MPs and Senators who want to get stuck into each other. And truth be told, they’re really good at it. It was Scott Morrison himself who said they were a “Muppet Show”, a Liberal Senator who described the Environment Minister as being on L-plates. It was the Liberal Treasurer who mocked Christopher Pyne as “a legend in his own lunch time”, and it was the Liberal Minister for Women who this week said the Liberal Part was widely seen as “homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers”.
Then they voted in favour of an integrity commission, but against doing anything to set one up, and voted against an amendment to increase the penalties for white collar crime.
Meanwhile in far off Buenos Aires at the G20 meeting Trump asks, what happened to Malcolm? Here’s Alex Ellinghausen capturing the mood of the moment:
Back home a poll shows the voters have suddenly gone sour on Gladys Berejiklian’s NSW Liberal Government but somehow 52-48 to Labor only gets a hung parliament.
2. ScoMo and Dutton show their form on encryption laws
Bipartisanship has broken down on the new encryption laws, as the Coalition walks away in a ‘take it or leave it’ stance.
This will be reported by some as Labor putting our security in jeopardy by refusing the access our spooks have asked for. The New Daily has a fair account from what I can see.
It seems that by opening a door for the spooks also creates a weakness that can then be accessed by spies and other scoundrels.
- Mr Dreyfus wrote that the committee had also only recently become aware of concerns the bill could jeopardise security cooperation with key ally the United States because of potential problems it causes for compliance with the US CLOUD Act.
“This is clearly very serious,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, members of the Australian technology industry also slammed the Government’s encryption bill, warning it would devastate their reputation and trigger job losses and reduced exports.
Under its proposed powers, the Assistance and Access Bill could require a company to create a new mechanism for law enforcement to access encrypted communications while also demanding it keep the capability a secret.
See also Patricia Karvelas’s interview with Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.
McAllister said that under Abbott and Turnbull such issues were worked through and resolved. Under ScoMo the proposed bill has been taken off the table and will be presented to parliament unaltered. McAllister was quite specific that the spooks were happy to wait for the issue to be sorted.
3. Will Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make a difference?
She copped some flack over her nice dress. Her response:
“If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh and take a picture of my backside. If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh and take a picture of my backside.”
It’s how the conservatives try to put her in her place and remind her she may be a congresswoman but, to them, she’s just a “girl”.
- Ultimately, of course, conservatives don’t really care about what Ocasio-Cortez is wearing. They care that she is so comfortable in her own skin. It terrifies them. And it should. Ocasio-Cortez represents the changing face of America. She represents a new generation of diverse American women who will wear what they like and say what they like. And that leaves people like Scarry quaking in their Brooks Brothers boots.
However, she disappointed some as she backed Nancy Pelosi for speaker. There was no real alternative, and Pelosi knows her way around.
Perry Bacon Jr at FiveThirtyEight explains how the House Progressives Are Set To Wield A Lot Of Power In 2019. Organised progressive and conservative groups exist within the Democratic Party as the Progressive Caucus and the Blue Dogs. The progressives are on the ascendency:
- …in 2010, there were about 1.5 progressives for every Blue Dog in the House. In 2019, progressives will have a 4-to-1 advantage. This is the biggest the Progressive Caucus has ever been, according to a spokesperson for the group.
That matters, not just for how the party operates in the current term, but for the future of the Democratic Party and its legislative program, should it win in 2020. Arguably what matters most is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal shows the radical choice facing the Democrats:
- This programme – a huge, co-ordinated programme of public investment aimed at decarbonising growth – would be the most radical and transformative economic proposal put forward by any US party since Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.
4. Theresa May survives, but Brexit dead in the water
You can take your pick between Peter Oborne talking to Tom Switzer on why Theresa May is a political Houdini or Ian Dunt’s more pungent view. If you Google ‘Brexit news’ you’ll get a flood of commentary.
The EU has now “endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relations” which sets the stage for Britain exit on March 29. However, only then can the EU start to negotiate with Britain as an external state on a trade deal and matters such as access to Britain’s fisheries. All of Britain’s current trade arrangements then fall in a heap, as they are EU-dependent. It took the EU seven years to negotiate an agreement with Canada – they don’t move fast.
May needs 326 votes to pass the agreement. The current state of the parties sees her with 315 seats, but there are about 80 rebels who oppose the deal. The extra votes can’t be found elsewhere, and the 10 member Irish Democratic Union Party say that if the parliament does pass the agreement their support for May’s government will be reviewed.
At this point everyone should consider What will happen if MPs reject Theresa May’s deal? No doubt they are, and some are talking of a Plan B where the best on offer may be a ‘Norway deal’ where the Brits continue to trade and people also have free movement, except it will happen by EU rules with Britain having no say.
Surely not. May herself is rabidly anti-immigration, according to Dunt. However, she may have little say in how it all turns out. The situation is volatile.
Meanwhile Laura Tingle takes a look from the other side of the Channel. With Britain gone Macron’s vision of a more integrated Europe looks more doable. Macron and May present two very different visions of Europe:
No love there.
The latest is that May has ruled out a Norway-style Brexit compromise with Labour, she rejects all alternatives to her EU exit deal and is focused on the Brexit deal, not plan B.
Now treasury analysis shows that the UK is going to be worse of in the next 15 years under all scenarios, somewhere between 0.6 and 10.7% of GDP.
5. Di Natale gets very angry to make the point
Greens leader Richard Di Natale was suspended from parliament after refusing to withdraw calling Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan “a pig”, who he accused of sprouting sexist filth.
Senator Hanson-Young fingered O’Sullivan, Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm as serial verbal abusers who were not fit to be parliamentarians, or even men.
When Di Natale explained next day why he took a stand O’Sullivan, Anning and Leyonhjelm walked out.
Usually I’m not in favour of anger as it has unintended consequences. On this occasion it does seem to have led to some reflection on the standards of uncivility prevailing in the senate.