Canberra week in review 4th September

The Prime Minister and Opposition leader have both been campaigning in Western Australia this week, as they prepare for the Canning by-election in two weeks time.

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The vote has been forced but the death of local Liberal MP Don Randall who made this into a safe Liberal seat.

 

The poll is seen as a test of Mr Abbott’s leadership.

 

In Canning, Mr Abbott opened the electorate office of Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie.

 

“I am confident that Andrew Hastie is going to fight very hard for the people of Canning in Canberra. As for the Labor Party, they want this seat. And I expect an absolute blitz from the Labor Party in the last couple of weeks of this campaign.”

 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was in Canning supporting Labor candidate Matt Keogh.

 

“Let’s try and win the Canning by-election. Everyone knows the Liberals are desperate to say Mr Abbott is not relevant to the Canning by-election. The truth of the matter is its Mr Abbott’s Liberals who voted to cut our healthcare budget and hospitals.”

 

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has to get through the Australian Parliament before it becomes law.

 

After 10 years of negotiations that Government says the deal is the best that could be achieved and the Labor Opposition should support it.

 

Labor, along with elements of the Union movement, say the deal allows the importation of Chinese labour and they want to negotiate elements of the package.

 

Trade Minister Andrew Robb is just back from China and he says the deal is not open for more negotiation.

 

“The deal has been done. If we seek to unravel it it will mean, I think, that China will walk away they’ve got bigger fish to fry. They have spent 10 years on this.”

 

Bill Shorten says Labor wants to amend the proposed legislation to protect jobs.

 

“Now we’ll sort this issue out but Labor will not be bullied to give up on standing up for Australian jobs by the shouting of Mr Abbott and his Liberals.”

 

This week’s economic figures showed the economy was growing more slowly at just point two percent for the June quarter.

 

Treasurer Joe Hockey defended the figures.

 

“At a time when other commodity based economies like Canada and Brazil are in recession the Austarlian economy continues to grow at a rate that meets and sometimes beats our most recent budget forecasts.”

 

The Opposition’s Treasury spokesperson Chris Bowen says growth of just point two per cent is a worry for Australia.

 

“We have seen a very bad set of figures and Joe Hockey is in an alternative universe if he thinks otherwise as he seems to be saying. Now the fact is this is the worst quarter in Australia we have seen in a decade if you put aside the Global Financial Crisis and Cyclone Yasi’s impact on the economy.”

 

The Liberals’ internal problems haven’t gone away.

 

Treasurer Joe Hockey has been getting attention for all the wrong reasons.

 

Newspaper reports followed leaks from Cabinet that the Prime Minister was being urged to sack the Treasurer in favour Social Services Minister Scott Morison.

 

The Prime Minister is sticking with his Treasurer Joe Hockey and publicly backing him: “I’m delighted to be here with my friend and colleague, the Treasurer. The Treasurer has done an outstanding job, an absolutely outstanding job.”

 

The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, accused the Fairfax Media group of being out to get the government..

 

“The reality is there is a bit of a Jihad being conducted by Fairfax at the moment. They are being helped by the ABC as well there is no doubt about that.”

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott tried to play it all down.

 

“Again, I’m not going to get into all this insider stuff. Naturally it fascinates the media but as soonÂ. Again, I’m not going to get into all this insider stuff. Naturally it fascinates the media but as soon as I start talking about it, you’ll say that the Government was distracted from its purpose.”

 

The Union Royal Commission is hearing evidence again in Sydney with Dyson Heydon at the helm.

 

On Monday the Commissioner announced his decision on the application by the ACTU that he remove himself on the grounds of bias.

 

Commissioner Heydon said the claim had not been proven.

 

“I have considered all the submissions. In my opinion the applications must be dismissed. I publish my reasons.”

 

The Government applauded the decision.

 

Labor says it will introduce a motion in the Senate calling for Commission Heydon to stand aside.