Welcome to the beginning of another sitting week – and the last joint sitting before the budget is handed down in May.
To say it has been a huge fortnight since we last gathered for Politics Live would be an understatement. Thousands of women are expected to march on parliament house, and around the nation, after an idea from Brisbane woman Janine Hendry took hold. The parliament will be suspended from midday to 1.30pm so MPs who wish to attend the march, can – but don’t expect too many Coalition MPs to be seen outside the building. The minister for the status for women, Marise Payne said she would accept the March4Justice submissions by email or post. Michael McCormack said he was too busy with “meetings all day”. Scott Morrison said he didn’t make a habit of attending marches, but would meet a delegation privately in his office. Hendry, speaking to ABC radio this morning, said no. Asked why, she said she had “read the room”.
“We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the government to cross the threshold and come to us,” she said.
“We will not be meeting behind closed doors.”
Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds both remain on sick leave. Reynolds last week retracted an offensive comment she had made about her former staffer, Brittany Higgins, as part of a confidential legal settlement, which also included paying Higgins’ legal costs and making a donation to a charity, at the behest of Higgins’ to a Canberra group which helps sexual assault survivors.
Porter, who denies all allegations against him, is not expected to return from mental health leave during this sitting. Morrison has refused to consider an independent inquiry into Porter’s fitness to sit as first law officer of Australia, saying it would impact ‘the rule of law’. Morrison hasn’t sought advice from the solicitor-general as to whether that would actually be the case (other legal experts have said it is not). Morrison also did not read the allegations levelled against Porter, and instead was briefed on the contents of a document sent to his office.
The latest Newspoll has the government losing two points, putting Labor ahead 52-48. The Coalition and Labor both stood on 39% in the primary vote in the poll, which is Labor’s best result since the election. Morrison is still way ahead in the preferred prime minister stakes, but the drop in the two-party preferred poll will cause some angst in the Coalition party room.
Meanwhile, former and current female Labor staffers have come together to say they will no longer keep the secrets of men in the Labor party they say have abused and harassed them. The women posted in a closed facebook group detailing some of the abuse they say they have experienced, without naming names (for legal reasons). Tanya Plibersek, Sharon Claydon, Katy Gallagher and Anika Wells have responded and said they believe the women and want action. But no one seems to know what that action will be. Former Labor staffer Anna Jabour, who went public with her experiences as as young staffer in the Gillard and Rudd governments last week, says there needs to be accountability. Anthony Albanese planned on attending the March4Justice today. We’ll see what he has to say.
We’ll bring you all of that and more as the day rolls on. You have Amy Remeikis with you for the day, with Mike Bowers as well as the entire Guardian Canberra team – Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst at your service.
It’s going to be a five-coffee day. At least.
Ready? Let’s get into it.