ACT QT: mortgages, wreckers & cowards

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In the wake of some damning coverage this week questioning their viablity as an alternative government, the Canberra Liberals restarted proceedings in the ACT Legislative Assembly today with some disagreement over the absence of Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, who is on holiday in Spain.

The Libs granted Stanhope his absence, but refused to pair.

“We’ll give Stanhope leave, but we’re not going to give up our vote so Jon can go on a holiday,” Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said.

Seselja was doing his presser alone today, with Environment Minister Simon Corbell and Greens climate change spokesperson Shane Rattenbury cavorting around the Assembly entrance with the Canberra ? 40% community group in white slogan t-shirts.

“I don’t ? 40%, I ? 30%,” Seselja said.

“If they’ve got a 30 per cent t-shirt then I’ll wear it.”

The passing of the ACT’s ambitious 40 per cent carbon emissions target was set to be the news of the day, but with only Andrew Barr and Seselja’s speeches completed by lunchtime Corbell was forced to admit it might not go to a vote until Thursday.

The issue all but disappeared during Question Time, where a healthy splatter of community queries were served by the Liberal Party and the Greens.

These included: the mortgage relief scheme; a possible ACT Police force not syphoned from the AFP; increased numbers of ambulance staff; new healthcare services; the proposed 50m Gungahlin pool; tasers; a backflip on funding cuts to education for disabled and ESL students; and ending with a dixer on Labor Government progress which let Corbell rave about building “a better and more sustainable Canberra” (see feed-in tariff and carbon reduction target).

Acting Chief Minister Katy Gallagher had clearly taken the Fed’s memo on spin to heart, delivering the “wreckers” line on two occasions.

“Mr Hanson has to spoil it, has to wreck it,” Gallagher said on the subject of emergency admissions, earlier referring to the “wreckers opposite” regarding mortgage relief scheme and the state of the ACT economy.

“Oh, Julia’s line!” Brendan Smyth hollered from the other side of the chamber.

But it was not “wrecker” that generated the most heat on the floor today, it was the use of “jellybacked” to describe Andrew Barr following his backflip on cuts to support for disabled and ESL students.

“The man is a jellyback!” Brendan Smyth said.

Barr requested a withdrawl, which was granted, but the Opposition bench asked why Speaker Shane Rattenbury didn’t request a withdrawl for the term when it was used to describe Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson.

Rattenbury said while the term was “unparliamentary”, the Opposition had never asked him to request a withdrawl.

Then the word coward was thrown around a bit, John Hargreaves progress dixer asked and I fell asleep in the back of the empty chamber.

Who knows what excitement is in store tomorrow?

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