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Question Time Ahead of Time

It’s Tuesday in the last parliamentary sitting week before  a short recess leading into our politicians meeting in Canberra to hear what the May budget will bring. Debate is set to continue to be vigorous through the rest of the week with the of the conflict determined for some time now and redrawn from time to time when topical daily or weekly issues have been uncovered.

There are three main subjects on which Coalition questions during Question Time today could be based, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), Craig Thomson or the carbon tax. The former, the MRRT was passed last night by the Senate and so is most likely to dominate Coalition questions in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Craig Thomson affair was in the news again yesterday because the Coalition demanded a more explanatory medical certificate than was provided in order to grant him a pair for the rest of the week. A specialist has provided advice on the health of Craig Thomson and the Coalition have since granted him a pair. Therefore it is less likely that the Craig Thomson story will play a role in Question Time, except perhaps a question or two on the investigation itself.

Like it has been for some time, since the broken promise and before and after it was debated and passed by the parliament, the carbon tax could also play part in the Coalition strategy.

There is one last possibility for questions and that is any issue that arises in the media today that is very topical which the Coalition may choose to run with for the day in Question Time. It would appear that the mining tax is the most topical issue of the day and that there are no other topical issues that the Coalition will use for its questions in the parliament from 2pm today.

The Gillard Government will focus the use of the Dorothy Dixer on the spending involved with its tax on miners and what this will mean for different constituent groups. The government will certainly too use part of each answer on the Minerals Resource Rent Tax to attack the Coalition for opposing the tax cuts which are funded by the MRRT. Questions on the broader economy are also likely if government questions are not completely dominated by MRRT statements.

One a broader front, the usage again of the motion to suspend Standing Orders cannot be discounted as we head toward its utilisation 50 times some time surely in the near future though it seems less likely to be invoked today due to the fact that all the likely issues to be interrogated today have extensively been used for such motions before.

So it should be a fairly predictable Question Time from 2pm AEDT, though the exact mix of questions is still open for debate and determination at this stage. It cannot be discounted that there will arise, between now and the commencement of Question Time a topical issue that will supersede questions on issues that have already been canvassed for a prolonged period of time.

To watch all the action and theatre, if you’re a politics wonk or just a sucker for punishment, tune in to Question Time from 2pm AEDT on your television or your radio.

Question Time Ahead of Time

It’s Wednesday and that means only two more days of the parliamentary sitting week lie ahead for our federal politicians in Canberra jockeying for momentum going into the May budget. Question Time is likely to be a loud, argumentative and at times farcical affair. Many eyes will be on the Senate where the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, sworn in as a Senator and Minister yesterday will face his first Question Time in the role.

The Opposition without any shadow of a doubt will continue to focus their Question Time efforts on pursuing the Labor Government over its carbon tax and Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) which has a parliamentary report handed down today.

While the Fair Work Australia investigation into Craig Thomson still proceeds at snail pace, it can certainly be expected that there will be a question or two aimed at the Gillard Government over the issue.

The fallout from the Skype sex scandal in the Australian Defence Force may also get an airing in Question Time from the Opposition as it did yesterday in relations to comments from Major General John Cantwell.

Equally predictable is the government focus of their backbencher questions to Ministers, also colloquially known as the “Dorothy Dixer” or “Dorothy Dix”. Again these questions will likely focus on the economy through the spending related to the MRRT windfall as well as other spending allocations made by Prime Minister Gillard and her government.

In the Senate, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr will draw the most focus from interested observers, though not face the most questions as both the government and the Opposition are set to pursue different lines of inquiry. The new Foreign Minister is likely to get a question from his own side, but may also get a question or two related to the Defence Minister from the Coalition in the prism of overseas operations.

There is also a distinct possibility that the Coalition will attempt to suspend Standing Orders in an attempt to challenge the Government after not answering questions though that seems less likely than in recent days because of the exhaustion of content on that front.

Yesterday Question Time in the House of Representatives was quite feisty and resulted in a handful of ejections for one hour under Standing Order 94a, one of those being a Government MP. Two Ministers were also sat down for straying out of the ballpark of relevance in their answers and that is a positive development. So be watching today at 2pm AEDT where the drama that is the play called Question Time looks set to continue with loud interjections, irrelevant answers and plenty of name-calling.

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