Katharine Murphy June 28, 2012
Welcome to our live coverage of politics from the national capital. All times in AEST. You can also follow me on Twitter @murpharoo
7.00pm: Well Pulsers, we will say goodbye for now.
Conventionally, we'd say good bye until parliament resumes.
But events as they are, I suspect we'll be back together before then.
We have a carbon price taking effect on Sunday.
We have an asylum policy to square away. We'll be back covering those issues as events dictate.
I'm genuinely touched by all the positive feedback we've had, particularly over the past 48 hours.
Thanks so much.
Andrew, Alex and I have put our heart and soul into this project since we started at the beginning of the political year.
We are glad so many find the live blog a helpful resource to navigate the Canberra circus.
Until we resume again, take care, don't despair, and dare to hope politics won't fail us in the end.
6.50pm: I've checked in with Tony Abbott's office.
They are cooling their heels for now.
Scott Morrison may have a preliminary view on the reference group later tonight on Lateline.
So let's do the evening summary.
Today in federal politics:
6.31pm: Greens leader Christine Milne.
We don't support offshore processing because it's contrary to the convention.
6.30pm: We aren't getting into hypotheticals.
We will approach this with an open mind.
We will listen.
6.25pm: Over to you Christine, Sarah.
Are you going to stick to trenchant opposition to offshore processing, come what may?
6.20pm: Greens leader Christine Milne, flanked by Sarah Hanson Young, is out welcoming Ms Gillard's announcement.
This committee needs to be grounded in the refugee convention.
And, by the by, it would have been better if the government had agreed to the Greens position.
(Try not to sigh Pulsers.)
6.16pm: The Greens have been quick to respond.
Greens digital media coordinator David Paris:
There seems to be some confusion from ALP MPs on Twitter about the definition of 'progressive'
6.15pm: Interesting that some Labor MPs have taken to Twitter to have a crack at the Greens. The Green's failure to compromise in this transaction presents opportunity for a bit of product differentiation.
Labor's Stephen Jones tweets thus:
#Asylum was opportunity for progressive MPs to make a difference. Instead the Greens have voted with Abbott and played right into his hands.
6.01pm: Ms Gillard says her expert group will have complete freedom to make whatever recommendations they see fit.
She will take whatever recommendations they put forward with the upmost seriousness.
The Prime Minister says the report will come to the government before parliament resumes.
Certainly before parliament resumes.
We've set them a formidable task.
5.58pm: Over to you Tony.
Mr Abbott has not moved one millitmetre in this debate to stop people drowning.
5.55pm: Andrew Meares captures Julia Gillard doing her best Iron Lady.
5.45pm: Here's the Prime Minister.
The Senate has voted.
Independents in the Senate supported the proposals.
The Oppositon and the Greens voted against the bill.
Tonight the Opposition voted against stopping the boats.
Ms Gillard says she's here tonight to announce the next step.
The Government has invited former Defence Chief Angus Houston to work over coming weeks to produce a report to me and the nation about how we deal with this asylum problem.
There will be an expert group. Paris Aristotle will be on it. We'll shortly announce a third member with foreign policy expertise.
Ms Gillard says she'll invite all parties, including the Coalition, to form a reference group to consult with the panel of experts.
If Mr Abbott declines this invitation, she'll throw it open to all-comers from the Opposition.
5.40pm: The Prime Minister will address reporters in five minutes.
5.35pm: Thanks to my colleague Dan Harrison.
We didn't have a chance to get to this earlier.
Liberal Judi Moylan didn't cross the floor yesterday on the asylum vote.
But she did earlier today.
On single parents. She voted with the Greens.
Here's Dan's report:
Earlier today Liberal MP Judi Moylan crossed the floor to vote against legislation which would cut welfare payments to more than 100,000 single parents by about $60 a week.
Under the changes, announced in the Budget, single parents would be shifted from parenting payments to the lower Newstart allowance when their youngest child turned eight, while partnered parents would be shifted on to Newstart when their youngest child turned six.
People who have started receiving the parenting payment since 2006 already face these conditions, but those who were already receiving the payment in 2006 are able to keep the payment until their youngest child turns 16.
The change is expected to save more than $685 million over four years.
Explaining her position in the chamber, Ms Moylan said:
This legislation, according to the government, will result in more people moving from welfare to work. I say we are moving them from welfare to worse... Let me be clear. I am supportive of measures that are genuinely designed to assist people into the workforce... but this bill does nothing to achieve that objective... it is simply a cynical exercise to generate budget savings, attacking some of the most vulnerable people in this nation.
5.30pm: Mr Abbott won't accuse the Prime Minister of bad faith.
Her sin in this transaction is pride and stubborness he says.
5.25pm: The offer was put to Green Senator Sarah Hanson Young, taken back to the Green party room, and shot down.
Mr Morrison is coy about whether Senator Hanson Young gave him any indication she would support offshore porcessing in return for the increase in the humanitarian intake during their private conversation.
5.21pm: Mr Morrison says he offered the Greens an increase in the humanitarian intake to 20,000 again today if the Greens would accept offshore processing.
This offer was flatly rejected, he says.
5.20pm: Mr Abbott is telling reporters the Coalition will not support Malaysia.
He'll say it until he is blue in the face.
5.18pm: Labor Senator Helen Polley replied to Senator Brandis you are a joke.
5.17pm: Liberal Senator George Brandis shouts a great day for human rights.
Lower House Green Adam Bandt and Labor MP Graham Perrett were in the chamber for the vote.
5.16pm: Here's the vote:
The matter is resolved in the negative.
Mr Oakeshott's bill fails at the second reading.
5.15pm: Opposition leader Tony Abbott is down at his press conference.
It's stalemate, he says.
A deeply unsatisfactory pass.
5.12pm: Oakeshott Bill now on the second reading vote.
5.06pm: The Greens amendments have been lost.
5.05pm: The only folks voting for the Greens amendments are .. wait for it ... the Greens.
5.01pm: The Senate has begun dividing.
Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor have come into the Senate public gallery.
We'd love to show you that, but parliamentary rules prevent us taking that photograph.
5.00pm: Senator Evans is looking at the Coalition across the dispatch box.
We are asking you to rise above the politics.
To support a bill for one year that allows the elected government of the day to stop people drowning.
We get one chance in this session of parliament to make something happen that may work.
4.56pm: Senator Evans is telling the Senate the government doesn't intend to accept the Greens amendments.
At the end of the day, people have to be accountable today for whether they acted or not.
What did you do when you had a chance to act?
Were you hiding behind the politics of the moment?
Were you expressing compassion and doing nothing?
4.55pm: Now Mr Morrison is up in a few minutes before the cameras with the Opposition leader Tony Abbott.
4.50pm: Shadow immigration spokesman Scott Morrison called, then abruptly cancelled, a press conference to talk about the Greens rejecting an offer from the Coalition to break the impasse.
4.48pm: Senator Evans says the Prime Minister has been at this all day.
She's spoken to anyone who was prepared to speak.
Senator Evans fears it might all be in vain.
He says the absent Senator Nick Xenophon has the correct perspective.
To do nothing would be far worse.
4.47pm: Labor's Chris Evans is back on now in the asylum debate now.
I fear the Senate is about to do nothing.
I hope not.
Wouldn't it be good if parliament could exceed our collective expectations?
4.46pm: Carmel Tebbutt, Anthony Albanese, Kim and Wayne Swan.
4.45pm: We have a couple of things to track down and catch up on before this vote, but let's do a few pictures from the arrivals at last night's Mid Winter Ball.
Then Kevin Rudd and Therese Rein.
4.30pm: It doesn't sound like we've missed much in the Senate during Question Time.
Labor and Liberal and Green speakers are reiterating their positions.
Grinding towards inconclusion.
Sports Minister Kate Lundy is now urging the Senate to endorse the bill before parliament breaks for the winter.
Six weeks is too long to wait to resolve this issue, Senator Lundy says.
4.00pm: Put it away Emmo.
3.50pm: I'm going to transit back to the Senate now.
While I get my head into gear, please enjoy our latest webisode of PulseTV.
Somehow, Andrew and I managed to get this filmed yesterday. We intended to broadcast yesterday to coincide with his first speech to the Senate, but we couldn't quite manage.
So here we are today.
Meet our newest Senator - Peter Whish-Wilson.
Peter is the new Tasweigian replacing former Greens leader Bob Brown.
We had a getting to know you chat. Peter told me signing up with the Greens has brought meaning to my life.
He's a chilled out surfie dude, and we had a chilled out surfie chat.
PLEASE TURN OFF THE AUTO-REFRESH AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG BEFORE VIEWING
3.40pm: Mr Abbott's attempt to censure the Prime Minister over the carbon tax has failed.
We've returned to Question Time.
Ms Gillard hasn't quite had enough today obviously.
Oh dear, we've returned to allow Craig Emerson to flash a measuring tape in the House. And some light measuring device.
To show the contrast between light and darkness.
Make it stop.
The Prime Minister, fortunately, does.
3.28pm: The Leader of the Opposition will be mired in his bitterness and negativity.
Like a scene from a cartoon isn't it?
A blur of arms and legs.
I've had another update from the Senate.
Oakeshott vote could be two hours away Pulsers. (I think, like Rob Oakeshott, I had a burst of unnatural optimism.)
3.27pm: Mr Abbott substitutes insults for ideas.
The facts at every stage are his enemy.
Ms Gillard says Mr Abbott knows he will be exposed after July 1.
Mr Abbott rises on a point of order.
If the carbon tax was such a good idea, why didn't you tell us about it during the election?
3.26pm: The Prime Minister rises to defend her honour.
They've had a big night out. They just need to settle down.
3.25pm: The Prime Minister reminds me of a rabbit at a greyhound meeting.
Christopher Pyne in the suspension debate.
3.20pm: You are no John Howard, Liberal Christopher Pyne shouts.
3.15pm: Mr Abbott:
An absolute act of betrayal by a Prime Minister who was never straight with the Australian people.
Betrayal is the stock in trade of this Prime Minister.
3.12pm: Ah Tony, I didn't know you cared.
3.11pm: Mr Abbott's voice goes up an octave or so: excitement.
Ms Gillard has remained in the chamber to hear the censure motion.
Her usual form is to leave when Mr Abbott begins the procedural skirmish.
3.10pm: Mr Abbott is now seeking leave to censure the Prime Minister.
She's breached faith with the Australian people by introducing a carbon tax this Sunday.
3.05pm: Wave those pamphlets peeps.
2.58pm: It's posters aloft in the House.
Liberal MPs are holding up posters for small business warning about price increases under the carbon price.
Acting Speaker Anna Burke warns the prop holders to put them down.
Labor's David Bradbury intones this is a very serious matter and the Australian Competition Consumer Commission will be on to monkey business concerning any post July 1 price gouging like a rat up a drain pipe.
Or words to that effect anyway.
2.55pm: The advice just to hand suggests a vote on the Oakeshott Bill in about an hour from now.
(All things liable to change without notice.)
Meanwhile, the Treasurer Wayne Swan is insisting that the world won't end on Sunday.
Sunday is going to be Tony Abbott's Y2K virus, Mr Swan declares.
2.46pm: The Coalition has persisted with carbon tax questions.
Liberal Bronwyn Bishop is worried about the impact of the price on old people.
Labor has now switched its Dorothy Dixers to the carbon price.
The Prime Minister is invited to tell voters how much assistance they are getting.
2.45pm: Labor whip Joel Fitzgibbon checks in on Liberals Mal Washer and Judi Moylan.
2.40pm: It's not right, when people are dying, to just vote no, says Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.
Let the bill through to save lives, he urges the Opposition.
Acting Speaker Anna Burke has ejected Liberal frontbencher Peter Dutton from the chamber.
Bit of a logistical challenge, trying to keep an eye on the two Houses at once.
The Senate is back on the Oakeshott Bill now.
Still not clear when we'll see a vote.
But after Oakeshott, there is a tax bill, and Stronger Futures legislation for the Northern Territory.
In the lower house meanwhile, Independent Tony Windsor has asked about regional airlines' access to Sydney Airport.
2.30pm: National leader Warren Truss is persisting with the carbon tax.
Labor is persisting in asking itself Dorothy Dixers on the boats.
2.25pm: Liberal Deputy Leader Julie Bishop inquires of Ms Gillard - why does the Labor leader in West Australia not like your carbon tax, and why has he cancelled the state Labor conference this weekend because he doesn't want to be associated with you and the carbon tax?
The Prime Minister thanks Ms Bishop for her interest in her diary.
Ms Gillard says she will be out and about on the weekend proving Whyalla is still on the map and the coal industry is still working.
2.22pm: Well Senate.
2.16pm: Labor's Dorothy Dixers open on the boats.
Why is it important to have resolution of this policy issue?
The Prime Minister says MPs showed yesterday the depth of feeling on the issue.
We are rightly fearful that we will see more loss of life at sea.
It is the right thing to do, to send an effective message of deterrence.
We are now in a very straight forward situtation.
It's a yes or no divide now.
Ms Gillard says the Senate must decide.
2.14pm: Mr Abbott does not open today with asylum policy.
He's back to the carbon price.
2.12pm: Labor's Anthony Albanese warns MPs they will be sitting late this evening to consider business from the Senate.
You are likely to be sitting past 5pm, he says.
Not only the Oakeshott Bill.
The Senate has extended today's business to include other legislation.
2.10pm: Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott also mark the sinking of the Montevideo Maru - the Japanese ship - in 1942.
2.05pm: Mr Abbott joins the Prime Minister in paying tribute to the service men.
We must never forget those serving in Bomber Command were serving us.
MPs applaud Mr Ted Malmgren (the veteran we introduced to Pulsers earlier today.)
2.00pm: Here is Question Time.
The Prime Minister seeks indulgence on the Bomber Command Memorial.
There will be a ceremony in London later today our time.
Ms Gillard pays tribute to the men who kept the Nazi forces at bay in World War II.
These men were the bravest of the brave.
1.50pm: I've flipped over now to tune into the green chamber, and have discovered Liberal and former tennis great John Alexander wearing a clown nose.
1.45pm: Breaking news from Phil Coorey.
The Sydney human rights lawyer, George Newhouse, has called on the Greens to take a pragmatic approach and support offshore processing to end the deaths at sea of asylum seekers.
Mr Newhouse, the head of Shine Lawyers Social Justice Practice which represented the survivors and the families of the deceased on SIEV 221 which foundered on Christmas Island in 2010, said he has changed his own views on offshore processing and the Greens must too.
He has issued his plea today as the Senate debates the bill which would allow the government to send asylum seekers to Malaysia and Nauru.
The Coalition will oppose it because it does not support Malaysia while the Greens will oppose it because they do not support offshore processing. This means the bill will fail and parliament will rise tonight for six weeks with the policy impasse intact.
Mr Newhouse said enough was enough.
I have seen the carnage caused by a shipwreck and the damage done to people’s lives. A four per cent death rate is too high a price to pay to come by boat to Australia, he told The National Times.
I know that the need to save lives is being used by some politicians and commentators as a cover for their xenophobia but after seeing the lives ruined by drownings I am taking a pragmatic approach. Personally, it’s a difficult decision but on balance I would have to say that I would prefer the ugly compromise of people being processed safely overseas than to die at sea.
1.40pm: The Senate debate has been adjourned for now.
1.25pm: Here is the Green amendment.
Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012
(Second reading amendment to be moved by the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Milne, on behalf of herself and Senator Hanson-Young)
At the end of the motion, add:
but the Senate:
(a) calls on the Government to take immediate action to:
(i) provide safe pathways for refugees to discourage people taking life threatening journeys;
(ii) increase Australia’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 to 20,000, including additional places to be immediately allocated to targeted resettlement of 1,000 people from Indonesia and 4,000 people from Malaysia;
(iii) immediately increase funding to United Nations High Commission for Refugees by $10 million to boost the capacity of Refugee Status Determination assessments in Malaysia and Indonesia;
(iv) establish a multi-party committee, charged with developing a framework for a long-term regional solution which is underpinned by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the related 1967 Protocol;
(v) enter urgent discussions between Australia and Indonesia to address the critical need for cooperation and effectiveness of intelligence sharing and resourcing between Australia and Indonesia in order to save lives at sea;
(vi) codify Australia's Safety of Life at Sea Convention 1974 obligations across all relevant government agencies and increase Australia's rescue capacity in Australia's northern waters;
(b) resolves that a message be sent to the House of Representatives immediately to acquaint it with this resolution.
1.00pm: Meanwhile, in another place, the Opposition leader Tony Abbott has been meeting in his office with constituent Ed Malmgren.
Mr Malmgren is a veteran of the World War II bomber command to be honoured tonight in a ceremony in London.
Welcome to Parliament Mr Malgrem.
12.45pm: Senator Milne says she's written to both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott outlining points on which they can all agree.
(Talk. To the hand. Doug.)
12.40pm: Greens leader Christine Milne.
The issue here for us today is to say to ourselves as one of the richest countries on earth, why can't we use our leadership role in the region to genuinely lead.
To uphold the convention.
To work on a genuine regional solution.
Senator Milne says climate change will force more displacement around the world.
If we are serious, there's more we can do.
There is the Greens amendment.
12.35pm: Senator Milne says Temporary Protection Visas didn't stop people drowning in the SIEV X incident.
She says people are asserting the Oakeshott Bill will fix the current problem.
Where's the proof?
12.30pm: Greens leader Christine Milne says talk to the hand Doug.
This is a political solution, she says derisively, not a solution for asylum seekers.
12.25pm: Senator Cameron turns to the Greens in the chamber.
He'd quoted Gough Whitlam a few minutes ago in relation to the Greens: only the impotent are pure.
Don't be impotent.
Make a contribution.
12.10pm: Labor Senator Doug Cameron's lilting brogue is wafting now across the Senate chamber.
Senator Cameron says he's changed his mind on the asylum question.
The Oakeshott Bill is the best way forward.
We need to deal with (the asylum issue) both in the short and long term.
This is not a situation that will change quickly.
I abhor the loss of live at sea.
Children are losing their mothers and fathers.
These are human and personal tragedies of the highest order.
I'm troubled by the Nauru approach. I'm troubled by the Malaysia approach.
But a bit like Keynes said ... when the circumstances change, you change your mind.
I have changed my mind.
12.05pm: I've asked for clarification from Green MP Adam Bandt's office about Ms Moylan's comment before that the Greens were prepared to consider offshore processing yesterday in talks amongst backbenchers.
This is the response from Mr Bandt's spokesman:
We all agree on the need to stop people getting on boats.
Increasing our intake for refugees from Indonesia from 60 to over two thousand and upping UNHCR’s tiny Indonesia Budget so they can process people in Indonesia will mean asylum seekers have an alternative to people smugglers.
Noon: Now forgive one tiny digression.
We on The Pulse were thrilled last night for our friend and colleague Phil Coorey (second from left), who was a richly deserved winner of the Paul Lyneham Award for excellence in press gallery journalism.
Hooray Phil. This recognition for fast fingers Coorey is long overdue.
We were also delighted to be highly commended by the judging panel for our work on The Pulse.
The panel highly commended Andrew, Alex and me for our work over the past few months in the digital media space.
We were thrilled with this result - and we give this gong to you Pulsers.
You've made us a success, and we are grateful.
(Stoked, are we.)
11.50am: Liberal Senator George Brandis is sharing the frustration of the voters about the asylum impasse.
He says he's frustrated too.
But there are principles at stake.
Policy efficacy is not a second order issue.
We have to contend for the policy we believe will be most effective to stop these horrible events.
11.45am: Don't get me started on the American Civil War. There are time limits.
11.40am: Foreign Minister Bob Carr is selling the Malaysian Solution in his contribution to the debate.
With a couple of digressions.
Australia should have given visas to Jews fleeing kristallnacht.
The invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
11.25am: Inaction is intolerable.
Backbenchers address the media.
11.20am: Mr Oakeshott says inaction is intolerable.
11.17am: Independent Rob Oakeshott should get some kind of award for eternal optimism.
I haven't written off the Senate yet.
11.16am: National Tony Crook says yesterday was a missed opportunity.
I think there will be a missed opportunity today.
Mr Crook says the backbench group wants a long term solution to this problem.
11.10am: The backbench group will meet throughout today as the Senate considers the Oakeshott bill.
Should the Greens move on offshore processing?
Labor's Steve Goeorganas:
People should be negotiating today and doing all that they can to find common ground.
11.05am: The group of backbenchers trying valiantly to break the executive deadlock on asylum policy are now addressing reporters.
Liberal Judi Moylan says she worked productively yesterday with the Greens and others.
It's been a great opportunity to work with my colleagues today, there are differences.
But with goodwill we can break the stalemate.
Ms Moylan says the Greens were talking about offshore options yesterday, as long at there were strong protections for asylum seekers.
(What the? Does she mean support for a regional solution?)
Ms Moylan says the group has the capacity to grow, to pressure the parliament on this issue.
10.55am: Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash says the proposition before the government today is very simple.
Accept the Coalition's amendments, or face defeat on the floor of the Senate.
It is no good government members standing in this place today and blaming others for their own failings.
10.24am: The Greens listen to Sarah Hanson Young's contribution in this morning's debate.
The Greens are the only party not to have offered a compromise in the asylum debate thus far.
10.35am: Sarah Hanson Young foreshadows amendments.
Increasing the humanitarian intake; promoting more cooperation with Indonesia.
She's seeking to move those amendments now.
10.25am: No compromise.
Eric Abetz, just a little while ago.
10.21am: Green Senator Sarah Hanson Young is weeping, recounting the story of a young asylum seeker.
The story is designed to demonstrate why the Greens won't be supporting Malaysia.
He was terrified, 15 years old, on his own, his parents had been killed, locked up for three months on Christmas Island, terrified he would be sent to Malaysia.
These are the people's lives we are playing with.
10.20am: The Sydney Morning Herald's chief political correspondent Phil Coorey has been speaking to Senator Nick Xenophon in hospital in Adelaide.
Senator Xenophon isn't mincing words.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says politicians should stop behaving like petty pissants and broker a solution on asylum seeker policy today.
Speaking from hospital in Adelaide, Senator Xenophon told the National Times that although he supported onshore processing, he accepted it was not working and he would be be backing offshore processing with certain safeguards.
The Senator, who is recovering from an ear infection, said:
I don't like it but we need to do something. The stink of a compromise is better than the stench of death.
10.05am: Liberal Senator Eric Abetz isn't buying Senator Evans' plea for compromise and cooperation.
Compromise per se, is never and never has been a substitute for good, sound, public policy.
10.00am: The Coalition is digging into the quote file for today.
Here is Senator Evans in 2008, in an address to the Refugee Council of Australia.
Labor committed to abolishing the Pacific Solution and this was one the first things the Rudd Labor Government did on taking office.
It was also one of my greatest pleasures in politics. Neither humane nor fair, the Pacific Solution was also ineffective and wasteful.
Senator Evans says he's been persuaded that Malaysia will work.
Today, he says, is not a time for emotion. It's a time for action.
9.50am: There is a lot of terrific commentary around this morning about how parliament is failing the people in this asylum debate.
I have no substantial disagreement with that observation.
But what this debate is giving us is deep insight into the character of our parliamentarians.
Everyone in this place has been thrown back on the essence of their character in the last 24 hours.
It's gripping viewing for that reason.
9.40am: The asylum debate has begun in the Senate.
Labor's Chris Evans is the government's Senate leader.
He's also a former Immigration Minister, a lovely bloke, and the person who attempted to implement a more humane approach to the management of asylum seekers under Kevin Rudd.
Senator Evans is telling the Senate it needs to get on with solving this problem.
This isn't about people's baggage, about their personal views.
I was the one who closed Nauru. I ended Temporary Protection Visas. I find this very difficult.
If we allow ourselves to be swayed by the baggage we bring to the debate, we won't be doing our job.
Senator Evans says the public is watching.
The parliament should not fail the voters, who want this fixed.
9.30am: Before this morning's debate, Prime Minister Julia Gillard blitzed the airwaves to try and cajole the Senate to break the deadlock.
This, from morning television.
Pass the bill: there is no plan B:
GEORGIE GARDNER: If it is blocked in the Senate, where to next?
PRIME MINISTER: Well we will go into the winter recess, this is last the parliamentary sitting day and we will not have passed laws for offshore processing.
That means that our nation cannot have at its disposal the most effective means of sending the strongest possible message we want to, to people smugglers, the strongest message of deterrence, I think that would be a very, very disappointing outcome. I am calling on each and every Senator today to look into their conscience, to think deeply about this.
9.20am: But first, Andrew Meares and Alex Ellinghausen shot brilliantly in the chamber throughout yesterday.
So much outstanding work, it's very hard to pick a favourite.
But this picture comes close for me.
Alex Ellinghausen captures Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop, herding the wavering backbencher Mal Washer with a kiss.
9.10am: Good morning Pulsers.
Another big day looms.
We expect the Senate to beging consideration of the Oakeshott Bill at around 9.30am.
9.05am: The Prime Minister and partner Tim Mathieson rode the tempest to the ball last night.
She suggested in her speech Mr Abbott secretly wanted to be leader of the Labor Party.
Why not, she quipped. So many other people want to be.
It was a terrific speech after a gruelling day.
9.00am: What is this tempest the Mid Winter Ball blows into Canberra, Tony Abbott inquired last night.
Here is Mr Abbott, arriving last night, with wife Margie.