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It's Gonski 2.0, energy policy, media reform and citizenship in Canberra as IA brings you live updates throughout the day.

(Note: New updates at top of page.)

1pm to 5pm: Parliament House and Question Time, Gonski and NBN)

Well, it looks like the Government has managed to get the numbers for its Gonski reforms, with apparently all the Senate crossbenchers (minus the Greens) – Xenophon, Lambie, Hinch, Leyonhjelm and One Nation – agreeing to pass the Coalition's package.

It appears to rip a lot of money out of the original Gonski funding model, but the Fairfax press seemed pleased with the deal:

Supporting the changes, Pauline Hanson had some "interesting" ideas about how autistic children should be educated.


Question time in the Press Gallery was an interesting experience. I turned up a little late and saw that the Gallery were all packed in liked sardines down the left hand side in the bottom two rows. It looked cramped, so I sat up on the righthand side in the top row. 

What were they doing? Cribbing off each other? The only thing colder than the Canberra weather were some of the looks I received from some of the Press Gallery doyens. Some were nice, but...)

So, Question Time in the reps: the main topics were education from the Opposition and energy,and the CFMEU for the Government.

The CFMEU attacks on Labor and Bill Shorten all appear to arise from a single smear about CFMEU head John Setka in today's The Australian. No, I won't be linking to it.

As for the energy stuff from the Government. It was all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

You can get a flavour from the following tweets:

Late in the afternoon, I interviewed Laurie Patton from Internet Australia, who had an article in today's IA, about a disgusting attack on him under privilege from NBN CEO Bill Morrow.

That video will be going up later, along with my video summary of today. Here is the video Chris Richards kindly mixed together of this morning's doorstops:

9am to 1pm: Parliament House (NDIS, Gonski and media reform) 

I'm here in the House of Reps watching Parliament Live. Not having an office in Parliament House, I figure watching Parliament live as I update this blog is as good a place as anywhere. Of course, I have not been here all day and I will get to what we have been up to since the doorstops (below) in a moment.

Currently (12.55pm) Jenny Macklin, the Opposition families and social services spokesperson, is talking about the NDIS. 

"Labor is 100% committed to funding the NDIS," she's saying — and I believe her. I''m not so sure about Government's commitment, given previously today we had Human Services Minister Alan Tudge speaking to a motion about "tightening up" pension rules, which is code for pushing people off pensions.

It is an odd experience sitting in Reps outside Question Time, which I also attended yesterday. At the moment in this massive theature there is no-one else in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, no-one in the public galleries and maybe ten people down below in the Chamber, including Parliament House staff and MPs. Clearly whatever has grabbed the rest of the Press Gallery is happening outside the legislature.

Chris and I saw a couple of press conferences this morning, including Education Minister Simon Birmingham hitting all his talking points on Gonski 2.0. What will happen here is still uncertain. It looks like One Nation will side with the Government (as usual), but LDP crossbencher David Leyonhjelm's support looks shaky. Xenophon in his doorstop (below) seemed hopeful of coming to an accomoodation with the Coalition, but he is a canny negotiator and will be trading up for as much as he can get.

There are other big policy issues being debated today, of course, including the Government's big media free for all package. Sorry, "media reform" package. Liberal MP David Coleman spoke passionately today in a second reading speech on this proposal, saying it was essential to "save jobs". Speaking of jobs, Coleman used to be an executive with Channel Nine, so he's not conflicted at all.

Government Minister Paul Fletcher said the Opposition must pass the package because "all the media"support the package. He didn't mention whether it would be in the public interest at all, of course.

The fact that all the big media bosses support a particular package would be something that should fill all of us with suspicion, in my opinion.

You can read my recent article on this subject HERE.

My views were wholeheartedly endorsed by Emma Dawson, former media strategy advisor to ALP Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, in an article on IA yesterday. You can read that HERE.

Labor is not supporting the Government's pachage, having a particular issue with the two out of three rule. ALP MP Michelle Rowland gave a very good speech about this and the NBN this morning in Parliament.

Question time coming up at 2pm. Stay tuned.

7.30am-9.00am (21/6/17): Doorstops (Back, Cameron, Xenophon and Hinch)

Good morning from Canberra, it's managing editor Dave Donovan here, IA's temporary press gallery representative for this week only, while Dr Martin Hirst recovers from an illness. As IA subscribers would know, I arrived in Canberra yesterday and put an update in the members only area last night HERE. (Can't access because you are not an IA subscriber? You may subscribe and access the members only area HERE.)

We did this brief video wrap late yesterday afternoon as well.

This morning, we turned up bright and early on a cold foggy Canberra morning at the Parliament House side entrance to do some doorstops. When we arrived, down on an oval below, MPs and staffers we finishing up a "State of Origin" MPs and staffers rugby league match. Not sure who won, but I did hear some cheers of "Queenslander!" as they milled around below, which sounded positive to me...

Then who should come up the stairs with a large amount of camera equipment on his shoulder but James Ashby. I did take a snap of him, but he managed to turn away just in time.


Ashby was, of course, the subject of some speculation yesterday after Derryn Hinch said there was a "bombshell" coming. Before you attack Hinch, we also heard there was a significant event coming involving Ashby from a usually very reliable source, as I wrote about in last night's newsletter.

Then came the doorstops. We held a mike in front of retiring WA Liberal Senator Chris Back, who is rather opposed to the Government's new Gonski package, being a staunch advocate for the Catholic education. They'll probably be glad he is finishing up on 30 June, though they were being rather laudatory last night during valedictory speeches...

Next was Labor Senator Doug Cameron, Australia's closest thing to Jeremy Corbyn, who railed against the Coalition being in the pockets of big business and enslaved by neoliberalism.

You've gotta love Dougie!

Up for a much longer time was Nick Xenophon, who rattled off a 10 minute speech without needing to be asked any questions. He spoke about South Australian subs, the ennervating and never ending energy debate, as well as the education funding reforms.

I asked him whether he thought the Coalition's divisions were preventing a coherent energy policy being delivered, and he said "there are divisions everywhere." Probably a fair point. You can see the full interview when we post it on YouTube. Cameraman and IA intern Chris Richards is back home mixing it together now.

Jacqui Lambie then breezed in and, as we were packing up, in came Derryn Hinch. The Channel Nine cameraman managed to ask him about Ashby and he said there had been a "hiccup"but he stood by his comments. Ashby, wearing his Queensland guernsey in advance of tonight's second Origin match, did not look worried, so who would know?

Want to see more? Follow managing editor Dave Donovan's live update from Parliament House on Twitter @davrosz.

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