Heading into Easter with no shortage of chill media coverage, George Christensen again faced questions over his travel to the Philippines. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that “minister for Manila” skipped almost a third of the 2014 public hearings for the parliamentary inquiry into boosting the Top End‘s infrastructure and economy – a heartland issue for the Queensland MP.
Twisting the senator’s arm harder, the Herald Sun did the math on Christensen’s travels and found he earned more than $550 a day – around $163,500 all up – during his 28 trips to south Asia.
Yesterday, Christensen referred his expenses to the parliamentary watchdog after it was reported he claimed around $3,000 on domestic flights connecting to trips to the Philippines.
In other news, South Australian Independent senator Tim Storer announced he wouldn’t be re-contesting his seat in the upcoming election. If you’re wondering “fuckin…. who?” you’re not alone. Storer was never elected as a Nick Xenophon Team candidate, but replaced former senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore when she was hit by the section 44 drama that rocked parliament. His parliamentary term will end just over a year after he started.
All week, both Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison have battled back and forth over “secret spending cuts” Labor has accused the Coalition of trying to sneak into its 2019 budget. Labor says there’s $40 billion coming out of somewhere, and ScoMo has insisted it is “absolute complete rubbish“. It didn’t help that the independent Grattan Institute weighed in, saying significant cuts would have to be made to get such a large, multi-billion dollar reduction in spending. Paul Karp at The Guardian has a good explainer here.
The Prime Minister, still in Tasmania, flirted with nuclear power for some reason, saying it was “not not on the agenda.”
Speaking on Tasmania‘s LA FM, Morrison said that while he wasn’t going to “roll out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies” for something that wasn’t the future of energy efficiency, the door wasn’t exactly closed to nuclear companies – provided they can pay their own way
Shortly afterwards, Labor MP Tony Burke saw an opportunity to strike, reminding everyone that nuclear power is against the law in Australia.
And then ScoMo hit back.
Labor are getting desperate, and we are only 8 days in. This is not our policy and we have no plans to change that. https://t.co/A7TGkzP3ph
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 18, 2019
This all came in the shadow of a bombshell ABC report that published a bunch of handwritten notes that contradicted basically everything Environment Minister Melissa Price had said about the controversial Adani coal mine “accepting in full” changes sought by scientists to limit the mine’s impact.
The documents ABC managed to nab appear to show Adani refusing to accept, among other things, scientists’ key finding that the model used by the mining company to estimate its impacts was not fit for purpose.
That’s a big one!
Later on Thursday, Shorten announced his intentions for a Labor government to have Patrick Dodson as the Indigenous Affairs Minister. It’d be the first time Australia has actually had a First Australian in charge of Indigenous affairs in Canberra.
Shorten pledged to give more power to Indigenous communities, saying “paternalism” and “top down” approaches had failed. “We want to try something different if we get elected. We want to try bottom up control.” #auspol #ausvotes19
— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) April 18, 2019
Oh yeah and Liberal senator Jim Molan, who enjoys talking about how influential he was in running Australia’s contribution to the Iraq War, is trying to get people to vote for him below the line because the Libs keep putting him in un-winnable places on the Coalition Senate ticket.
OK buddy! As an aside, it is estimated that almost half a million people died as a result of the war in Iraq. Just leaving that one there.