It's Going To Be A Wild Week In Parliament
The circus is back in town.
The new parliamentary sitting session kicks off on Monday, with new Prime Minister Scott Morrison stepping into a veritable minefield of drama with continuing questions over Peter Dutton, a Liberal senator threatening to expose colleagues over bullying, and his team down a number following Malcolm Turnbull's resignation.
On other fronts we've got a new (old) senator joining the parliament, coal protests, the revival of the live export debate, and a Labor MP is literally singing the theme tune of The Muppets.
The circus is definitely back in town.
It won't be a warm welcome for the Member for Cook though, with opponents promising to introduce a no confidence motion targeting home affairs minister Peter Dutton over the widening au pairs scandal. Then there's the matter of Dutton's section 44 eligibility issue, with Labor also to push for a High Court probe into his childcare centre interests. Then there's the issue of Dutton potentially misleading the parliament. Basically there is an unprecedented storm hitting Peter Dutton, and it's likely to dominate the week.
But there's also the possibility of friendly fire denting Morrison's first week in the top job, with South Australian senator Lucy Gichuhi potentially outing fellow MPs as bullies for their role in the leadership spill. Female MPs have spoken privately about claims Dutton backers in the spill used threats and bullying tactics to force fellow Liberals to call for a spill vote, and Gichuhi -- who only joined the Liberals in February, and has been relegated to an unwinnable spot on the party's Senate ticket -- may use parliament to name and shame.
"I will detail my experience not only with the PM's spill, because this is a culture, this is a systematic kind of issue," she said on Radio National last week.
"I had senators and ministers in tears, that's how bad it was. One of my colleagues was in tears the whole day."
OK what else -- well, Greenpeace protesters scaled flagpoles outside Parliament House to put up a banner welcoming Morrison to his new job.
The huge banner, mocking Morrison's controversial appearance in parliament last year where he brought a lacquered lump of coal into question time, then passed it around his colleagues like a football, welcomed MPs into their workplace on Monday.
Staying on the personnel front, Turnbull is no longer in the parliament and we're down to 149 MPs in the lower house. The speaker of the house is still deciding when the Wentworth by-election will be, so watch this space. Labor MP Emma Husar is back after a break, and we've also got Greens senator Larissa Waters, the second politician to be embroiled in the section 44 citizenship scandal in July 2017 (wow doesn't that feel like a long time ago), re-entering the parliament to take the spot vacated after the resignation of Andrew Bartlett.
New Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi, is bringing up the live exports debate again in parliament today. Expect a fierce debate. Another Greens senator, Rachael Siewert, is bringing on a bill to raise the Newstart and Youth Allowance welfare payments -- currently well below the poverty line -- by $75 a week, a change that has long been pleaded for by social agencies and charities.
Looking at seating, there are a few changes too. Julie Bishop, who resigned as foreign minister, takes a seat at the back of the House with Julia Banks, who also announced she would not be recontesting her seat at the next election. Nationals MP Kevin Hogan has made good on his threat to sit on the crossbench too, moving just a few seats across from where he used to sit with his party colleagues.
Back outside parliament, there's a big protest of farmers who want action on climate change. They're rallying near that Greenpeace coal banner.
And if you're not done yet, a Labor MP has literally been singing The Muppets theme tune, after Morrison said in an interview that his party had been like the much-loved puppet show in recent times.
That'll do. Stay tuned through the week for more.