Wednesday, 26th March 2014

FREELANCING

The prime minister's surprise announcement to bring back knights and dames was met with hilarity and ridicule around the nation. 

But in some parts it was met with a note of caution: "The whole thing is actually the first wave of the PM's national targeted involuntary redundancy programme for satirists," explained Annabel Crabb. She was right to be concerned. 

"Knights and Dames?" tweeted Marcus Westbury, "What if you started a culture war and everyone just pissed themselves laughing?" 

"Stop the moats!" urged Sam Dastyari in the Senate.

But the decision might not have amused Abbott's own party room and cabinet, who were not consulted beforehand. Particularly because only three months ago he had ruled out reintroducing knights and dames in Australia.

Of far greater import, the government yesterday released a draft of its proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act. The changes would make it lawful to offend, insult or humiliate others on the basis of their race. "People do have a right to be bigots," said Attorney-General George Brandis the day before, and if he has his way they will have a licence too.

Meanwhile, the government's Repeal Day went unnoticed and Treasurer Hockey tried valiantly to wrest debate back onto economic grounds by blaming Labor's spending plans for a projected long-term blow-out. Those precious moments when the government appeared to be building a considered and coherent agenda have suddenly gone up in smoke.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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ALP to rally migrants to fight race hate law changes

"Labor will launch a blitz on Liberal-held marginal seats to warn migrant communities about the Abbott government's plans to water down race hate protections... Senator Brandis put his controversial changes to the Racial Discrimination Act before the Coalition joint party room before publicly launching an explanatory bill for consultation."

Warren Mundine warns against changes, labels George Brandis's bigotry comment 'bizarre'

"The man chosen by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to head his Indigenous Advisory Council has warned against changing Australia's racial discrimination laws... Warren Mundine said Attorney-General George Brandis's recent comment about people "having the right to be bigots" was "quite bizarre"."

Knights and dames reinstated in change to Australia's honours system

"“Pre-eminent” Australians will become knights and dames at the Queen’s approval for the first time since 1989 after a shock announcement by the staunchly monarchist prime minister, creating a new tier of honour as an “important grace note” in our national life."

Joe Hockey warns of budget pain

"Labor's failure to provide for big-spending commitments beyond the budget horizon will blow the nation’s finances, Joe Hockey warned yesterday as he released figures suggesting the bottom line could be $17 billion worse in 2017-18... Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen last night released analysis prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Office showing the budget could return to surplus in five years were it not for spending and policy decisions by the Coalition."

Brandis, bigotry and balancing free speech

"It is perhaps not surprising that a day after declaring that "people do have a right to be bigots", Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis has released his intended changes to provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act."

AlsoKnights of the Abbottlands sally forth (Ben Pobjie, The Drum)