What’s it all about, the Coalition no show for disability, no to MP to care for sick baby?


By Noely Neate

May 16, 2013

If you missed it, see last night’s awe inspiring rant by Mr Richard Chirgwin about the Coalition not bothering to turn up for the introduction of the DisabilityCare Bill. I had hoped that our media would report this lack of respect this morning, but no.

Did you know that Mr Abbott’s reply speech to the budget is more important than a mother taking time off work to care for her sick baby?  It is. The Coalition did not grant ALP MP Michelle Rowland ‘a pair’ so she could fly home to care for 14 month old baby: Opposition blocks bid to be with sick baby.


So let’s re-cap.  In one 24 hour period, our Coalition Opposition and soon to be our Rulers as the Australian media keep telling me (personally I would prefer to actually vote first) have insulted every disabled person in this country by not bothering to attend the Bill’s introduction.  I am sure the Coalition will backtrack on Ms Rowland’s dilemma, and there will be excuses of “Not being aware of the seriousness of the pairing request blah blah.

What the Coalition cannot backtrack on is their non-attendance in Parliament yesterday.  Yes a budget is important, but it happens every year. This historic Bill is a one-off.  It should have been a day of celebration for the disabled, their families and their friends, and a celebration of our nation shared by all!

The relief for so many in this country who live in fear that they will die and not be able to care for adult disabled children is more important than a budget response. The fact that a family with a disabled child will be able to move State to better their circumstances if the opportunity arises due to standard nation-wide care is more important than a budget response. The simple promise that carers of the many disabled in this country has some surety about the future of their families is more important than a budget response.

I could give many more examples.  The very least the Coalition could have done was attend this sitting to show that they supported these people.

It has been suggested this morning that the ‘No-Show’ is not really that big a deal, as  it has already been made clear that they would support it. I am sorry, but I disagree.  Our MP’s are employed to represent US, the Australian people, in the electorates where they were priveledged enough to receive a vote of confidence from us that they would represent their interests to the best of their ability.  Unless all these members that did not bother turning up for Parliament do not have any disabled in their electorates, I fail to see how that is representing your electorate?

Mr Abbott will have nothing to offer in his Budget reply except to say ‘This is a bad Government, ‘This Government can’t be trusted’ blah blah.  You can guarantee that all of the Coalition have bums on seats to cheer Mr Abbott on.

The media are already setting the stage for Mr Abbott’s wonderful reply speech, as it will be – just ask them.  It has been the lead story on all the TV stations.  Not one whimper about the total lack of respect afforded the disabled community yesterday, barely a mention of the pairing rejection. though anyone want to take odds when they invariably backflip on that there will be plenty of airtime given to it.  The producers of these News shows that decided the lack of support for this bill and blatant disrespect shown to the Disabled by the Coalition was NOT News should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

If this is the state of our Nation, where our elected members of Parliament are allowed to behave in this manner and the media (except for Fairfax photographer Andrew Meares) just shrug off as a political ‘tactic’ then it is not a Nation I want to be part of.  I have discussed on this blog in the past my feelings about the lack of empathy that Mr Abbott has shown in the past and the attitude displayed in the past 24 hours has not changed my opinion.

The disabled I have spoken to were hurt and disappointed when they have discovered the no-show. Worse, they are now worried that by not bothering to turn up, the Coalition in fact plan to wind back the NDIS as they don’t really support it.  This is not the sort of worry that these people need, they have enough worry in their lives as it is.  Politics and political gamesmanship should NEVER be more important than PEOPLE.  No segment of our society should ever be disrespected the way they were yesterday in Parliament.  No mother should ever have to stay away from their sick child to satisfy a political game.

It is time for the media to scrutinise Mr Abbott.  It is time for the media to show the sheer ambition and lengths that Mr Abbott will go to to gain power in this country.  It is time for the media to let the Australian public know exactly how much Mr Abbott values them, as obviously his political ambition is more important than we, the public, are.  After working in very large companies, I fully comprehend that the ‘tone’ & ‘attitude’ of a company filters from that of the CEO at the top.  Therefore this attitude can only be coming from Mr Abbott. Having said that, it does not excuse the fact that the other Coalition members blithely followed instructions to not attend.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves!


Noely (YaThinkN)
A punter who despairs for this nation if this sort of heartless behaviour is considered ‘acceptable’

PS. If you would like to see Kiera’s wonderful graphic, here it is:

IMPORTANT:  11.00am: I guess I am psychic. It’s all over TV how generous the Opposition is in allowing Ms Michelle Rowland to be paired. Mr Pyne waffled with rubbish saying “Did not know Ms Rowland’s child was sick…”  Sadly it seems that a copy of the letter somehow attained by Mr Chris Murphy (dated 15 May) doesn’t quite gel with Mr Pyne’s PR line.  Just click on the letter graphic to the right here to see in full.

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  1. Transcript of Entsch blaming @MRowlandMP for Libs refusal to let her go home to care for her sick baby http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3760580.htm

    EMILY BOURKE: The chief Opposition whip, Warren Entsch, says he granted Ms Rowland a pair, but he’s also labelled the MP’s leave request “a stunt”.

    He’s issued a statement saying if Ms Rowland’s “child is sick then she should leave the Parliament immediately and a pair will be granted”.

    He told The World Today he granted Ms Rowland leave when he read about the matter in this morning’s paper.

    Mr Entsch spoke to Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.

    WARREN ENTSCH: The issue of backbench pairs was raised with me first on a meeting I had with the new Chief Government Whip on Monday. Included in that was a request for Mike Kelly. He sought a pairing for a family medical matter and I said to him at that time send it over to me but there’s not a lot of detail there, I’ll need more than that to be able to approve it. There was also a request there from Michelle Rowland where she said due to her child being unwell and that she’ll be grateful if she could return home on Thursday night.

    My comment to Chris at the time was that if the child is unwell, she shouldn’t be down here, she should be with her child. It seems rather bizarre to be putting in a request on Monday or Tuesday asking for a leave on Thursday night because a child is unwell. If it’s unwell now, she should be with it.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: But it may be that some other family member was looking after the child…

    WARREN ENTSCH: No, no, no, no…

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: …and maybe she needed to then look after it.

    WARREN ENTSCH: …no, no you, you, that’s the information that she could have provided to me. You’re making those assumptions now. No other information was available to me and on the basis of that I said look, I can’t approve it on the basis of the information that’s been provided to me.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: Did you doubt that her child was sick?

    WARREN ENTSCH: That was all I had was available to me and I had also said to Chris, if there is any issues or if there’s any other information that needs to be made available so that I can reconsider this, please don’t hesitate to bring it to me. That is the normal process.

    Now later on he came back to me and he said to me that Mike Kelly’s wife was sick. She’d been in hospital for a couple of weeks and he needed to sit with her. On that basis I changed my position and approved that. At no point from that discussion until I read about it in the paper on Thursday morning had there been any further discussion to me or my office in regards to Michelle Rowland.

    If it had been me and it had been my sick child, I would have been sitting with my sick child. I wouldn’t have been spending a week in the Parliament.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: You don’t know the circumstances of her family …

    WARREN ENTSCH: In that case she should explain it to me.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: But what more information do you need than the fact that she has a sick child?

    WARREN ENTSCH: Well, if the child is sick on Monday, she should be sitting at home with that child. She should be sitting at home with that child if it is sick on Tuesday or Wednesday. She never made any effort, any effort to explain the situation so, you know, it is normal procedure, this is in my view, pulled out as a stunt.

    I actually gave her leave when I read about it in the paper and instead of grabbing the first flight home, which she portrayed being concerned, she sat in three divisions. She could have been halfway back to Sydney in that time.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: So do you doubt that her child was sick?

    WARREN ENTSCH: I have no idea because she’s never discussed it with me. She didn’t say her child was sick, she said she had a child who was unwell and she would appreciate going home on Thursday at six o’clock at night.

    Now it is Thursday morning. She could have talked to me on Tuesday, she could have talked to me on Wednesday, she could have talked to me today. At no point has she made any effort nor has anybody from the other side come near me and said look mate, this is a problem and so it makes you wonder, makes you wonder just how honest they are in relation to their applications or are they using a circumstance just to pull some sort of a political stunt.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: Having granted her a pair now after this blew up in the media, did you get any extra information from her?

    WARREN ENTSCH: None at all.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: No, well why did you agree to a pair today…

    WARREN ENTSCH: None at all, well, well and…

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: … when it hit the fan when you don’t have any more information than you had previously when you said no.

    WARREN ENTSCH: No, none of them have had the courtesy of coming over here but if they want to play that then if she wants to go home, I said I didn’t agree for a six o’clock, I said you go home and if what they’re saying in the media is correct, you go home right now. You don’t wait until six o’clock tonight.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: Are you concerned that this backfired on the Opposition…

    WARREN ENTSCH: No, not at all, not at all.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: …and it blunts the message of the Opposition about being family friendly.

    WARREN ENTSCH: Absolute nonsense, absolute nonsense. Like I said, if she’s got a problem with that child on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, at any time she could have come and I would have let her go immediately but to come in and say well, look I wouldn’t mind something in four or five days time, it’s a little bit rich.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: But you have granted her a pair not based on any extra information…

    WARREN ENTSCH: No, because I read only in the paper that she’s got this very sick child, that’s the first I read about it, that’s the first I knew about it and so I said in that case she doesn’t wait until six o’clock, she goes now.

    ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the point is that…

    WARREN ENTSCH: No, there’s no other point. Thank you very much.

  2. I was in a similar situation years ago & find Warren Entsch’s inference that is child was really sick then Michelle Rowland should have gone home straight away. Parenting is normally a ‘shared’ job nowadays. Years ago when my child had chicken pox, husband was away, so I was sleep deprived, went back to work when mum came to help, she was then run ragged and I knew she would only cope a few days (2 years old & very bad case), then I had to organise to take off time again, but at least knew I could give 2 more days of work before I applied for leave with 2 days notice.

    The attitude shown above just shows how old fashioned and basically unfriendly Parliament is to families or women in general with families.

    The fact they tried to weasel out of the nastiness just compounds the fact that political games were more important than human decency :(

  3. Text of baby-leave request from @MRowlandMP to Libs whip Entsch, courtesy of @telester video http://t.co/Y7YQvV0ozI

    16 May, 6pm

    ‘My baby is at home and has been unwell. I would be grateful to be home on Thursday night to be with her please.’

    Refused by letter. No contaxt with Rowlanud before refusal (see video)

  4. Transcription from Doorstop Interview with Christopher Pyne
    Parliament House Canberra
    May 16 2013

    Pyne: No if we knew that Michelle Rowland had a sick child on Monday morning she would have been given a pair to start on Monday, not Thursday at 5 o’clock. Er, now she didn’t come back and provide that information to Warren Entsch and so Warren Entsch was not aware that she had a sick infant until this morning when he read it in the Daily Telegraph.

    Interviewer: But he knew it was a child on Monday… that it was…

    Pyne: No we didn’t. She said that she had a, a, an ill family member.

    Interviewer: An ill family member. So there’s no mention of a child?

    Pyne: No. None at all.

  5. Here is a clip from the Fairfax Media video which exposes the Pyne lie.

  6. Ana Milosevic says

    I dare to say that very thin line divides Neo Capitalism & Fascism. Line is getting thinner by the day, one can tell by the arrogant behaviour of the opposition. They BELIEVE they are ENTITLED TO LIE, not accountable to their EMPLOYER (PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA) Regards, Ana

  7. People like Mr Pyne and Mr Entsch clearly feel they can judge Ms Rowland’s family situation, and her most private responsibilities and obligations, better than she can judge them herself. And don’t hesitate to say so. Regardless of the ugly insult this directs at her. Now, how should we expect them to behave towards us, and our private affairs, when they have the power that goes with Government? Be afraid.

  8. Joy Cooper says

    There is no way on earth that Entsch would have left Canberra to head off home, from Canberrra, to look after a sick child, as he claims. THAT would have been Mrs Entsch’s job.

    He was also being very precious & splitting hairs when he said Ms Rowland had “only” said her baby was “unwell”, not “sick”. What’s the difference Mr Entsch?

    As for Pyne’s out & out lies, denying the true nature of the pairing request, why hasn’t he been challenged? At least last night’s Ch 7’s Sydney TV news told the story, which was surprising, as they usually back the LNP’s version of events.

  9. Transcript From Doorstop with Christopher Pyne,
    Parliament House Canberra am 16 May 2013

    PYNE: On the issue of Michelle Rowland … she applied for a pair on Monday morning to start at 5 o’clock on Thursday afternoon. She provided information that was, that she had an ill family member. Warren Entsch the chief whip quite rightly thought that if the pair which was applied for Monday morning started on Thurs afternoon at 5 oclock, that he would like further information. He never heard from Michelle Rowland again. And then this morning in the Daily Telegraph, apparently we denied a pair for a mother with a sick infant. Well, if we were aware that Michelle Rowland had a sick infant on Monday, she would have been given a pair on Monday, so she could return to her child exactly as she should. What we are seeing here are political games from the Labor Party. I was shocked to hear Tania Plibersek this morning on radio, trying to link Michelle Rowlands pair to the Paid Parental Leave scheme. How low will Tania Plibersek fall? How desperate will Labor become to be now using a sick child … as a political pawn to try and attack Tony Abbott.

    INTERVIEWER: Are you saying that Michelle Rowland has used her own child as a political pawn?

    PYNE: I’m saying that the Labor Party are trying to make politics, out of a pair for a sick child. No if we knew that Michelle Rowland had a sick child on Monday morning she would have been given a pair to start on Monday, not Thursday at 5 o’clock. Er, now she didn’t come back and provide that information to Warren Entsch and so Warren Entsch was not aware, that she had a sick infant until this morning when he read it in the Daily Telegraph.

    INTERVIEWER: But he knew it was a child on Monday… that it was…

    PYNE: No we didn’t. She said that she had a, a, an ill family member.

    INTERVIEWER: An ill family member. So there’s no mention of a child?

    PYNE: No. None at all. If we knew that Michelle Rowland had a sick child on Monday morning, Warren Entsch would have said to her, you should go home today. Michelle Rowland’s a new mother with a young child and if she had a sick child and she told us on Monday, she would have been told by Warren Entsch, go home today Michelle, what are you doing here? That is exactly what we would have said.

    INTERVIEWER: Family members are important whether it’s a child or…

    PYNE: Well a family member could be one of any number of people… er as you would know David. So, it could have been a cousin, it could have been a grandparent it could have been … an uncle. But if we had known it was Michelle Rowland’s child, we would have given her a pair – and more importantly we would have said, why would you wait until 5 o’clock on Thursday to go home? You need to go home today.

    INTERVIEWER: So a grandparent, an uncle or you know, a cousin isn’t as important as a child…?

    PYNE: We’re not going to play the political games that Labor is trying to play today, to distract people from Tony Abbott’s speech tonight. Now, no the pairing arrangement, Labor tries to use. Let me give you another example. Mike Kelly applied for a pair. Er Chris Hayes told … Warren Entsch last night that his wife had been in hospital for 14 days and he needed to go to her bedside to be with her. And of course, Warren Entsch immediately said, well he should be going. At 5 o’clock today, that was when he applied for the pair, he should go. Mike Kelly broke the pair, to go and vote in the chamber – on superannuation laws. So, don’t assume that the Coalition is trying to do the wrong thing by pairing. We are parents. We are fathers and mothers too, and brothers and sisters. And if somebody has a sick child, if somebody needs to visit their wife in hospital, who’s been in hospital for 14 days, of course they’ll be granted a pair – but Labor is using pairing to make political points. That’s the point I’m making.

    INTERVIEWER: Now that you know that there is a child is it not possible to grant…

    PYNE: Of course she’ll be granted a pairing. Now that we know that that’s the case of course she’ll be granted a pairing. Now the mock outrage we’ve seen this morning at the doors and from Tanya Plibersek. Michelle Rowland wants a pair to visit her sick child, she can have one any time she likes.

    INTERVIEWER: In the letter from Warren Entsch to the government it says “due to a child being unwell” so it seems to indicate that Warren Entsch…

    PYNE: Well I haven’t seen the letter I’m simply – that’s the information I’ve been provided by Warren Entsch this morning..

    INTERVIEWER: Is it time to clear the rules up here, you know when people should be …

    PYNE: Well, there aren’t any rules, this is the problem. Pairing is an arrangement between the major political parties and unfortunately because there are no rules, Labor is going to use it to make political points which I think is very unfortunate.

    INT: Do you think there should be rules then…

    PYNE: Er well I think people should apply the pairs in good faith and I assume Mike Kelly applied for it in good faith and he should have therefore been able to go and visit his wife last night and I don’t think he should have broken the pair.


    PYNE: Well the way for Labor to stop using it as a political point scoring exercise is for them to grow up and act in good faith rather than try and use it to make political points.

    (Pyne talks about Abbotts post budget reply, Craig Thomson/ LNP latest accusations)

    INTERVIEWER: … did Warren Entsch mislead you?
    PYNE: Well that’s a matter for you to take up with Warren Entsch.

  10. Great stuff, bfavell. Thank you.