Coffee breaks and private planes lighten estimates hearings

Katter MP Ray Hopper was caught out sneaking in a coffee stop before estimates.A funny thing happened to Katter Party leader Ray Hopper on the way to estimates.
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He stopped to get a coffee.

In a day in which the Opposition landed no real blows on prepared and stubbornly patient ministers, the member for Condamine’s caffeine break served as a humorous repast to the humourless proceedings.

Having arrived late to the Education and Innovation Committee estimates hearing, of which he is a member, Mr Hopper blamed traffic.

But in parliament, someone is always watching, and watch they did as Mr Hopper ordered a coffee on his way to estimates.

And then reported him.

“Maybe some of the time that you said you were caught in traffic was in the coffee shop?” committee chair Rosemary Menkens asked.

“I had to have a cup of coffee when I came, yeah.

“There’s not a problem with that, is there, surely?  I just spent two and a half hours in the car Madam Chair.

“And if a man can’t have a cup of coffee when he gets to parliament, there’s something going wrong.”

But Mr Hopper was not the only one whose exasperation provided some light relief.  Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney got in early, alerting the Opposition, who had asked him for the past two years how much his chartered flights between his central Queensland electorate of Monto and Brisbane had cost tax payers, before questions even began.

“Could I assure the Opposition at the beginning, that they don’t need to waste any time on it today, they [my travel expenses] are exactly the same as they were last year.

“My travel arrangements are exactly the same, the figures are exactly the same, I think last year we were 44 per cent under budget, this year we are 41 per cent under budget, in regard to my travel expenses to and from regional Queensland.”

Premier Campbell Newman provided his own light moment, gleefully responding to Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk’s statement that her “simple question” be answered with a “yes or no”.

“There was an article that was on the Brisbane Times website ‘Opposition puts government on notice as LNP defends estimates scheduling’ … I quote the Leader of the Opposition ‘and to the ministers, let me say this, don’t for one minute think you can give yes or no answers’.

“I have heard what the Leader of the Opposition said.  I respect what the Leader of the Opposition said and today, wherever possible, I will do my utmost to give fulsome answers, wherever possible, I will not give yes or no answers today, because that’s what the Leader of the Opposition has quite stridently demanded and I respect that.”

But not all the fun happened within the seven chambers where the first of two days of estimates hearings played out in parliament on Tuesday.

Scott Emerson and Jackie Trad, neither shy of using social media to make their point, had their own little conversation.

The fun continues on Thursday.

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