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Pollie Waffle November 7: All you need to know from this week in politics

Former prime minister Gough Whitlam was farewelled on Wednesday at a state memorial, an event which saw him lauded as a political giant and visionary leader.

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It brought together both sides of parliament, with seven of Australia’s past and present prime ministers gathering for farewells and photos.

And while Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd refused to sit next to each other, it didn’t go unnoticed that Bob Hawke and John Howard shared a small joke as they took their seats side by side.

Cheers and jeers mark memorial

Mr Whitlam divided voters in his lifetime, so it was fitting his death should be no different.

Thousands attended the memorial for the tousle-haired heartthrob of lefties across the country, forcing hundreds to watch from outside a packed Town Hall in Sydney’s CBD.

And it was there that some in the crowd voiced their opinions with both cheers and jeers.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard was met with flowers and a standing ovation, while current leader Tony Abbott was ushered inside past the booing voices.

But the noise from outside soon paled into insignificance as Noel Pearson stood to deliver what has been described as a speech for the ages.

Citing Monty Python’s famous “what have the Romans ever done for us” sketch, Mr Pearson said the country was changed forever under Whitlam’s three-year leadership, reeling off a long list of his policy achievements.

“The modern, cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long, dormant chrysalis,” he said.

“… There is no need for nostalgia and yearning for what might have been. The achievements of this old man are present in the institutions we today take for granted.”.

Coal or death? You decide

Unfortunately, not everyone was as eloquent this week.

It began with politicians fumbling over a UN report warning that time was running out to limit global warming and avert disaster.

The report, issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stated that a lack of action to curb emissions was likely to lead to increasing heat waves, flooding and new risks to human life.

Greens leader Christine Milne seized on the report but stumbled on the message, asking voters “do you want coal or do you want death?”

It was an easy question for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to answer the following day, when he told reporters that coal was the cornerstone of our country’s prosperity.

“You can’t have a modern economy without energy and for now, and for the foreseeable future, the foundation of Australia’s energy needs will be coal,” he said.

Bad news for the birthday boy

The Prime Minister celebrated his birthday this week and his gift was a boost in opinion polls.

The new 57-year-old caught up to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in terms of preferred prime minister, at 42 per cent to 43 per cent respectively.

But was his happiness premature?

The prime minister had to share his halo with his foreign minister Julie Bishop, who’s on equal footing as preferred Liberal leader.

The “rising star” of the Liberals ducked off to China for an APEC meeting after being snapped with her new plus-one at the Melbourne Cup.

She was the only one of the four Liberal politicians highlighted in a recent poll not to lose any ground, rising 9 per cent and earning the title of “stellar colleague” from the Prime Minister.

‘From the mouth of Tony Abbott’

Attorney-General George Brandis has also been playing his part for the Coalition, using an appearance on ABC television to defend the government’s “Team Australia” rhetoric.

The Senator was met with laughter from the Q&A audience on Monday when he insisted that “from the mouth of Tony Abbott”, it was a phrase of inclusion.

“It is a word of unity, of bringing people together,” he said.

Senator Brandis also revealed that 71 Australians had fought in northern Iraq and Syria, 73 people have had their passports cancelled and more than 15 Australians had been killed in the conflict involving Islamic State militants.

His IS update followed news of a shakeup in national security, with the Australian Federal Police set to become the lead agency within a future homeland security department.

The department, proposed by the Coalition government and expected to be led by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, is just part of the radical restructure across the top tiers of government set to be rolled out in coming weeks.

Wage deals turn ugly amid name-calling

And it’s not the only radical event expected in coming weeks.

Thousands of public servants have been voting on strike action as Mr Abbott warns that the government can’t afford to increase their wages in line with inflation.

The government and its most controversial offer – increases of less than CPI to members of the Australian Defence Force – have been called everything from insulting and aggressive to cowardly and disgusting.

Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie was among those lashing out at the Coalition, urging the public to turn their backs on any Abbott Government politicians speaking at Remembrance Day commemorations.

But it seems this call to action was another idea she failed to run past team leader Clive Palmer, who told media that “it’s not something I would do”.

At least one deal was working out for the government as it finalised negotiations with the UK over Ebola.

Mr Abbott announced a $20 million commitment to fight the deadly outbreak, stating that Britain had agreed to treat any Australian health workers who contracted the disease.

The final bite

National living treasure Clive Palmer kicked off his party’s Victorian election campaign this week.

The Palmer United Party leader hosted the curious launch on Thursday, where he failed to announce both the candidates and their preferences.

An announcement is expected on Sunday, when it is likely to get more coverage than that received by Christopher Pyne this week.

The Education Minister announced millions of dollars’ worth of grants on Wednesday, funding which largely went unnoticed thanks to the country’s ongoing fascination with the late Gough Whitlam.

But really, such a  muted reaction is hardly suprising when you’re up against an “eternal”.

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