"Extreme"... Tony Abbott copped a thumping in question time
yesterday from Nicola Roxon on his record on women's issues and health.
The Family First senator Steve Fielding has made another of his frequent forays into public life to verify his status as an attention-seeking missile.
During debate on the paid parental leave bill, Fielding claimed women of a certain character - probably among the 99.08 per cent of Victorians who did not vote for him - would rort the scheme with late-term abortions.
He wanted to amend the legislation to preclude abortions being defined as stillborn.
''Most incredibly even prisoners and prostitutes are valued more highly than stay-at-home mums. The scheme would be open to rorting by people who chose to have later-term abortions,'' he said.
''Under this bill drug addicts and welfare cheats can rort the system and get paid parental leave money for nothing. Drug addicts and welfare cheats can go out there and get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the government's cash.''
It may be one of Fielding's last hurrahs. His term expires next June, not soon enough for some senators. The Nationals' Senate leader, Barnaby Joyce, described Fielding as a ''minor pawn'' playing politics in ''the most base way''. The Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young thought he indulged in ''dirt politics''.
Women's health was big in Parliament yesterday.
Nicola Roxon, the Minister for Health and Ageing, used the issue to thump Tony Abbott.
In a preview of Labor's election campaign strategy to underscore the Opposition Leader's apparent penchant for entangling the public with the personal, Roxon began a Dorothy Dixer by sweetly espousing the government's record on providing choice and information for maternity care, only to let fly on Abbott.
Abbott as health minister, she said, had allowed personal beliefs to interfere with his $13.3 million national pregnancy support helpline established in May 2007 so that it received only five calls a day - a cost of $300 a call.
Amid opposition protests, Roxon continued: ''He [Abbott] has a record of judging women through his own extreme views … he used his position as health minister to make it hard for women to get information, failing to understand the trauma, grief and outright dilemma that many women experience.''
For much of question time, it was billionaires at 10 paces.
Kevin Rudd and Abbott press-ganged miners, stock exchanges, pundits, foreign politicians, Chile and Canada into their duel over the mining resources super profits tax. First blood came when the deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, cited the observation of Chile's mining minister, Laurence Golborne, that his country would benefit from Australia's tax changes.
Rudd drew a bead on the well-dressed Bishop and satirised her for demonstrating with miners Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart last week: ''The deputy Leader of the Opposition, who cut a striking figure as a protester over there in Perth, I thought, chanting the revolutionary song, that revolutionary motto, Billionaires united shall never be defeated - protest by Prada …'' he said to merriment and fuming from both sides of the House.