Chief Opposition Whip Warren Entsch is at the centre of an embarrassing situation, which threatens to overshadow Tony Abbott’s budget reply.
Mr Entsch is under attack for denying Labor MP Michelle Rowland leave to care for her sick child.
Mitchell Dunk reports.
In about half an hour the Opposition leader Tony Abbott delivers his budget reply, but today the political focus has been on Labor MP Michelle Rowland who’d been refused parliamentary leave.
The Prime Minister is outraged.
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “What has happened with this mother makes an absolute mockery of everything the leader of the opposition has ever said about working women, it just shows so clearly that he doesn’t get it.”
The opposition says it wasn’t aware Michelle Rowland’s child was ill.
Chris Pine, Shadow Education Minister: “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, Labor MP: “My application explicitly said that my baby’s at home sick, I’d be grateful to be home with her on Thursday night.”
It’s the last thing the opposition needs on budget reply day.
Tony Abbott is expected to support many of Labor’s cuts but the Government believes his plans are more sinister.
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “Those Plans I believe are to cut to the bone.”
Wayne Swan, Treasurer: “Mr Abbott’s approach tonight is secret savage cuts.”
Despite speculation, the Coalition is remaining tight lipped.
Malcolm Turnbull, Shadow Communications Minister: “It’s incredibly sweet of you to invite me to run a commentary on a speech that Tony Abbott’s yet to deliver.”
At a breakfast function in Perth this morning one well known Coalition face couldn’t help himself.
John Howard, Former Prime Minister: “We balanced the budget! Tumultuous applause! We introduced labour market reform! Tumultuous applause!”
Mitchell Dunk, QUT News