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Hammond kicks off Budget speech with a few early jokes

Chancellor pokes fun at Mrs May's disastrous coughing fit at party conference Prime Minister pl..

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  • Chancellor pokes fun at Mrs May's disastrous coughing fit at party conference
  • Prime Minister played along and handed the Chancellor a packet of lozenges
  • In jokey speech he also spoke about Kezia Dugdale's jungle adventure
  • He said: 'If Labour carry on like this there'll be a lot more people joining her saying: 'I'm Labour, get me out of here'.'
  • 'Spreadsheet Phil' also threw in gags about Clarkson and Lewis Hamilton

By Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

Published: 08:06 EST, 22 November 2017 | Updated: 11:08 EST, 22 November 2017

Philip Hammond's gag-filled budget speech sent viewers into a frenzy with some saying it was packed with 'dad jokes' more suited to a best man's speech.

The Chanceller tried to throw off his dry accountant persona by ribbing Theresa May about her coughing fit at party conference leading to people using the hashtag #budgetbantz on Twitter.

Mr Hammond, who is believed to be fighting for his job, also threw in gags about Lewis Hamilton's private jet tax dodge, Jeremy Clarkson disliking Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs joining Kezia Dugdale in the I'm a Celebrity jungle Down Under.

The Prime Minister played along with the Chancellor's opening joke and handed him a packet of Strepsils in a nod to her disastrous conference speech in October.

Mr Hammond said: 'I did take the precaution of asking my right honourable friend to bring a packet of cough sweets'.

Mrs May, whose set-piece speech to the Tory conference descended into chaos after a coughing fit, responded by waving them and handing them over, making many of her MPs roar with laughter.

Philip Hammond ribbed Theresa May and cracked a joke about needing throat sweets to get through his budget speech

The Prime Minister played along and handed the Chancellor a packet of lozenges in a nod to her disastrous conference speech in OctoberThe Prime Minister played along and handed the Chancellor a packet of lozenges in a nod to her disastrous conference speech in OctoberPrime Minister Theresa May coughs as she delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party ConferencePrime Minister Theresa May coughs as she delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference

The Prime Minister played along and handed the Chancellor (left) a packet of lozenges in a nod to her disastrous conference speech in October (right)

Some commentators compared some of the 'dad jokes' to those found in a best man's speech and others used the hashtag #budgetbantz on TwitterSome commentators compared some of the 'dad jokes' to those found in a best man's speech and others used the hashtag #budgetbantz on Twitter

Some commentators compared some of the 'dad jokes' to those found in a best man's speech and others used the hashtag #budgetbantz on Twitter

The under pressure Chancellor also dropped in gags about Kezia Dugdale joining I'm a Celebrity and told Jeremy Corbyn's MPs: 'If Labour carry on like this there'll be a lot more people joining her saying: 'I'm Labour, get me out of here'.

He began with a joke at the expense of his boss Theresa May, who is said to be close to firing him.

Philip Hammond put in a number of jokes in his speech, which was compared to something you'd hear at a weddingPhilip Hammond put in a number of jokes in his speech, which was compared to something you'd hear at a wedding

Philip Hammond put in a number of jokes in his speech, which was compared to something you'd hear at a wedding

In October the Prime Minister had wanted to use her set-piece speech to the Tory conference to launch a political fightback and drag the party on to the front foot after weeks of infighting.

But it became an extraordinary personal ordeal and her coughing fit so severe she temporarily lost her voice before a prankster gave her a P45 and parts of the set collapsed behind her.

Mr Hammond continued to throw jokes into his speech, focussing on former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale heading Down Under yesterday.

Pointing the finger at the party's front bench he said: 'If Labour carry on like this there'll be a lot more people joining her saying: 'I'm Labour, get me out of here'.

For air travellers, Mr Hammond announced another freeze on short-haul Air Passenger Duty rates and long-haul economy rates.

And, in a dig at Grand Prix star Lewis Hamilton's private jet tax arrangements, he said the freeze would be funded by an increase in duty on premium class tickets and on private jets.

To cheers from Tory MPs, he added: 'Sorry Lewis.'

He then announced extending the age for the young person's rail card he said: 'For those who can't stretch to a private jet, we'll give you a railcard if you're aged 18-30'.

As he announced he was freezing duty on most ciders, wine, spirits and beer he said with a flourish: 'Merry Christmas'

Mr Hammond ribbed Lewis Hamilton about his private jet tax dodgeMr Hammond ribbed Lewis Hamilton about his private jet tax dodgeMr Hammond said Jeremy Clarkson had snugged Jeremy CorbynMr Hammond said Jeremy Clarkson had snugged Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Hammond ribbed Lewis Hamilton about his private jet tax dodge and said Jeremy Clarkson had snugged Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Hammond continued to throw jokes into his speech, focussing on former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale heading Down Under yesterday to join I'm a Celebrity Mr Hammond continued to throw jokes into his speech, focussing on former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale heading Down Under yesterday to join I'm a Celebrity 

Mr Hammond continued to throw jokes into his speech, focussing on former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale heading Down Under yesterday to join I'm a Celebrity

Philip Hammond's speech was packed with 'dad jokes' and it was compared to a best man speech by one commentatorPhilip Hammond's speech was packed with 'dad jokes' and it was compared to a best man speech by one commentator

Philip Hammond's speech was packed with 'dad jokes' and it was compared to a best man speech by one commentator

He also joked about Jeremy Clarkson's disdain for Jeremy Corbyn in his section on driverless cars.

He said: 'There is perhaps no technology as symbolic of the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless vehicles.

'I know Jeremy Clarkson doesn't like them but there are many other good reasons to pursue this technology so today we step up our support for it – Sorry Jeremy, not the first time you've been snubbed by Hammond and May.'

Announcing £40 million to train maths teachers he said: 'Don't let anyone say I don't know how to show the nation a good time', making Universities Minister Jo Johnson laugh.

The best gags from Spreadsheet Phil's make or break budget speech

The Chancellor belied his 'Spreadsheet Phil' nickname as he peppered his Budget statement with gagsThe Chancellor belied his 'Spreadsheet Phil' nickname as he peppered his Budget statement with gags

The Chancellor belied his 'Spreadsheet Phil' nickname as he peppered his Budget statement with gags

The Chancellor belied his 'Spreadsheet Phil' nickname as he peppered his Budget statement with gags.

Here is the best of them:

Mr Hammond used a sidekick for his first joke, referencing Theresa May's struggle with a cough during her speech at this year's Tory conference.

He said: 'Mr Deputy Speaker, I'm being tempted by something a little more exotic here, but I'm going to stick to plain water. I did take the precaution of asking my right honourable friend to bring a packet of cough sweets just in case.'

Mrs May then brandished a packet of sweets, suggesting a degree of comic collaboration between the Downing Street neighbours.

Mr Hammond also poked fun at his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, who was accused last week of 'auditioning' for the role of Chancellor by using 'long economicky words' in Cabinet meetings.

The Chancellor said: 'Mr Deputy Speaker, I shall first report to the House on the economic forecasts of the independent OBR. This is the bit with the long, economicky words.'

The news that Kezia Dugdale, former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, has headed to the Australian jungle to join ITV's I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! did not escape his attention.

He said: 'Mr Speaker, if they carry on like that, there'll be plenty of others joining Kezia Dugdale in saying 'I'm Labour… get me out of here!''

Mr Hammond used his announcement on maths teachers to make light of his 'spreadsheet' reputation.

'More maths for everyone. Mr Speaker, don't let anyone say I don't know how to show the nation a good time.'

He also said: 'Knowledge of maths is key to the high-tech, cutting edge jobs in our digital economy, but it is also useful in less glamorous roles such as frontline politics.'

Mr Hammond teased former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who claimed over the weekend that he was 'almost killed' by a driverless car.

The Chancellor said: 'Mr Deputy Speaker, there is perhaps no technology as symbolic of the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless vehicles … They surely don't want me to make that joke about the Labour Party again.

'I know Jeremy Clarkson doesn't like them but there are many other good reasons to pursue this technology so today we step up our support for it.

'Sorry Jeremy, not the first time you've been snubbed by Hammond and May.'

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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