Culture

Penny Wong Blew Up And Tore The Government A New One In The Senate Yesterday

Penny Wong has got it goin' on.

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Penny Wong isn’t known for losing her cool, but earlier today in the Senate that’s exactly what she did after the government moved a gag-and-guillotine motion this morning to cut off Senate debate about bills that would repeal the carbon tax; if the vote had passed, the Senate would have been forced to a vote and the carbon tax might have ceased to exist at 12:45 today, conveniently in time for it to be announced on the evening news.

A warning: if you can’t imagine Penny Wong as being anything other than super-calm, this will scare the crap out of you.




“We are already having backgrounded to media…what the Senate will be doing. Media are already being told to prepare for the Prime Minister’s announcement, because gag-and-guillotine will be moved, here in this Chamber, to get the bills on and voted on. So I want the crossbench to be clear on what you are being asked to do — you are being asked to run this Chamber so as to accord with Mr Abbott’s media schedule.

“I respect the fact that you have differences of views about the substance of the matter. But I utterly object, as does every Member on this side, to this Chamber of the Australian Parliament being used as a plaything of the Prime Minister. What an outrage that we would have the Senate being asked to gag and guillotine legislation so Mr Abbott can do a press conference tomorrow in time for prime-time television.

“And where do Senators in this Parliament find this out? Do we find this out because the Leader of the Government comes in and tells us what they want to do? No. We find out because Lateline is told last night to expect an announcement. We find out because Sky [News] tweets out that they’ve been told by the government ‘oh, expect the bills to be voted on by 12:45 today’.

“Understand what a disgrace this is.

“It is an absolute disgrace and really demonstrates the arrogance of this government — that you would not even allow a committee stage in a debate when you have been given more time…in order to ensure a proper process.

“You have spat in the face of that offer; you have said ‘You know what? We don’t want a debate, we just want a media conference. We’re going to run the Senate in time for the media, and we will not even do the Senate the courtesy of telling Senators what our proposition is — we’re going to go out and background the media ahead.

“What an utter disgrace about how to handle this Chamber. I’ll say to the crossbench: do not start this new Senate supporting such a disgraceful act.”

She certainly got across to newbie Victorian Senator Ricky Muir, who unexpectedly voted with Labor and the Greens to defeat the gag-and-guillotine motion, breaking with the Palmer United Party in the process. If the rage of Penny Wong is the only thing standing between the carbon price and oblivion, it might have a bit of life in it yet.

Feature image via Parlview/the Guardian.

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