No, William McWilliams Wasn’t The Last Country Party Member From Tasmania

The man shown here is Llewellyn Atkinson. He was the Country Party member for Wilmot (Tas) from 1921 until 1928.

He’s been dead since 1945 and now not even Nationals leader Michael McCormack knows that he was the last Country Party member from Tasmania.

Atkinson
Llewellyn Atkinson; Photo credit: Psephos

Yesterday, Tasmanian Senator Steve Martin joined The Nationals. Elected in a recount of Jacqui Lambie Network votes a few months back, Martin briefly sat as an independent before signing up to the former Country Party.

Martin was welcomed into the party room yesterday as the first-ever Country Party/Nationals senator from Tasmania.

According to an ABC report, McCormack told the media: “The last National Party member in parliament (from Tasmania) was William McWilliams, a former Country Party leader all the way back in 1927.”

Umm, no. McWilliams left the Country Party in 1922 and only returned to Parliament in 1928 as an independent.

The misinformation was dutifully repeated by Guardian Australia and The Australian.

The Land also repeated the fake history and then made it worse by suggesting that McWilliams had been the Country Party’s “inaugural leader in 1903”, at least fifteen years before the party was formed.

In a variation on the theme, The Conversation told us there had been no Country Party representation in Tasmania “since the early 1920s, when William McWilliams was briefly leader of the Country Party”.

Again, no. There were two lower house Country Party members – in Braddon and Wilmot – between 1921 and 1928. [Read more…]


Speaker Sets July 28 As Date For Five By-Elections; Opposition Outraged

The Speaker, Tony Smith, advised the House of Representatives this afternoon that he had set July 28 as the date for the five by-elections caused by recent resignations relating to dual citizenship.

Smith

Smith told the House that because of new regulations to refine the nomination process and because of imminent schools holidays, July 28 was the “optimal” date for the by-elections in Longman, Braddon, Mayo, Fremantle and Perth.

The ALP opposition accused the Speaker of inordinate delay and said the by-elections coincided with the ALP National Conference in Adelaide.

  • Listen to Speaker’s statement to the House (21m)
  • Watch the House proceedings (21m)

Hansard transcript of House of Representatives proceedings relating to the calling of five by-elections on July 28.

The SPEAKER (15:12): If members could cease interjecting, could I please have the attention of the House on this important matter: I’d like to read a fairly lengthy statement, and then I’ll be tabling some documents. Earlier in the week, I advised the House I would provide an update on possible dates for by-elections in the seats of Braddon, Fremantle, Longman, Mayo and Perth. This update follows further consultation with the Australian Electoral Commissioner and party leaders. Under the Constitution, it is my responsibility alone to issue a writ for a by-election when a vacancy occurs, and generally it has not been the practice to provide an explanation for the exercise of this responsibility. I have varied from the usual practice because of the quite unusual—quite unique—circumstances surrounding these by-elections. [Read more…]


Turnbull And Shorten Pay Moving Tribute To Sir John Carrick

Moving tribute was paid to the late Senator Sir John Carrick in the House of Representatives today. The former Fraser government minister died on May 18, aged 99.

CarrickCarrick, shown here in 1971, was a NSW Liberal senator from 1971 until 1987. He became Minister for Education on November 12, 1975, following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. In 1979, he became Minister for National Development and Energy, holding the portfolio until the government’s defeat in 1983. He was Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1978 until 1983.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke of Carrick’s wartime experiences, including three years as a prisoner-of-war in Changi. He spoke of Carrick’s service as General Secretary of the NSW division of the Liberal Party and his time as a minister in the Fraser government. Turnbull’s voice broke as he told how Carrick died in his family’s arms, just as Changi prisoners ensured that none of their number died alone.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said some regarded Carrick as “the soul of the Liberal Party”, which “he took from a fledgling amateur operation to a national political force”. Shorten said that “giants of our movement across the generations knew and admired John Carrick not just as a worthy foe and an opponent of great civility and courtesy but also as a person of substance, someone always prepared to argue sincerely held differences in principle, philosophy and the convictions that underpinned policy”. [Read more…]


Ged Kearney (ALP-Batman) – Maiden Speech

This is the maiden speech of Ged Kearney to the House of Representatives.

Kearney

The new ALP member for Batman was elected at a by-election on March 17, 2018. The by-election was caused by the resignation of David Feeney, due to his inability to provide evidence that he had renounced his dual citizenship with the United Kingdom.

Kearney, 54, was the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) between 2010 and February 2018. She is a former nurse and a former official of the Australian Nursing Federation. [Read more…]


1911 Was The Last Time A Government Won A Seat From The Opposition. Oh, Really?

On numerous occasions last week, I heard journalists and media commentators say that no government has won a by-election from the opposition since 1911.

It was repeated over and over. It was asserted again on Insiders yesterday and on Sky News last night.

The context, of course, is the batch of four by-elections – in Mayo, Longman, Braddon and Fremantle – that are about to take place following the resignations flowing from the High Court’s Section 44 decision on former Senator Katy Gallagher. A fifth by-election will take place due to the resignation for personal reasons of the ALP’s Tim Hammond in Perth.

The Liberal Party has decided not to contest Perth or Fremantle, so these seats should now be easily retained by the ALP.

The Liberals are favoured to retake their traditional stronghold of Mayo, especially given the Xenophon implosion.

So attention centres on Longman, in Queensland, and Braddon, in Tasmania. Can the ALP hang on to these two seats it won back last time? Could the government take one or two seats off the opposition?

A swing of just 0.8% would see Longman return to the government. Braddon needs 1.5%. It’s do-able but it’s tricky. Afterall, it hasn’t happened since 1911…

Well, no… [Read more…]


Sen. Tim Storer (Ind-SA) – Maiden Speech

Senator Tim Storer has delivered his maiden speech to the Senate.

Storer

Storer has filled the vacancy created by the resignation of South Australian Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore, a Nick Xenophon Team member. Kakoschke-Moore was ruled ineligible by the High Court, due to her dual citizenship. A special recount of ballot papers elected Storer in her place. Storer had already left the party and has chosen to sit as an independent. He was declared elected on February 16, 2018.

Storer, 48, is a former member of the ALP. He joined the Nick Xenophon Team in 2013 and was number four on the party’s South Australian Senate ticket at the 2016 election. The ticket elected three senators. Following Senator Xenophon’s resignation in 2017, Rex Patrick was chosen to fill the casual vacancy. Storer resigned from the party in protest.

Storer has worked in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. He ran a business assisting businesses with Asian trading and investment interests.

  • Listen to Storer’s speech (19m)
  • Watch Storer’s speech (21m)

Hansard transcript of maiden speech by Senator Tim Storer.

Senator STORER (South Australia) (17:04): I would like to begin by acknowledging the Ngunawal people as the traditional owners of the land upon which I stand and the Kaurna people as the traditional owners of the land on which my office in Adelaide sits, and I pay my respect to their elders, past and present. I also acknowledge all First Nations people in the chamber and gallery today. I wish to thank my family, especially Belinda, our sons Raphael and Ilan; Belinda’s parents; and my friends for their support. Thank you to those who have travelled here today. I would like to acknowledge the kind and courteous reception I’ve had since joining the Senate, from its wonderful staff, from the President and fellow senators and from Senators Cormann and Wong, who kindly escorted me into this chamber.

Storer

I am tremendously proud to represent the great state of South Australia. I have deep roots in South Australia, through my mother and father’s families, going back to the mid-19th century. It is an exciting time to be a South Australian, and I am lucky to be one.

I come to this place representing South Australia from my involvement with Nick Xenophon. I’d like to pay tribute to Nick, who included me on his South Australian Senate ticket in 2016 and who made a significant contribution to South Australia through his considerable political service. I thank Senator Griff, former Senator Kakoschke-Moore and others for supporting that decision. I intend to uphold the values and spirit of accountability and transparency that the Nick Xenophon Team articulated when I stood for election in 2016. The process of careful review I’ve undertaken with the important bills before me in my first two weeks in March and now is consistent with that spirit. I will judge legislation and other measures put before me on their individual merits, assessing proposals against four benchmarks: integrity, fairness, prosperity and sustainability. I will not engage in trade-offs for political gain. I will not compromise on what I think is in the interests of South Australians and our nation. I believe the South Australian people expect and deserve no less. My values are underpinned and encapsulated in the Prayer for Generosity taught to me at St Ignatius’ College in Athelstone:

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labour, and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

Those values, instilled in me by my parents and teachers, guide me to this day.

Storer

Commitment to integrity is rooted in my upbringing. I was born in 1969 in Loxton, a town in the Riverland region of South Australia. Loxton remains the place where I developed a strong sense of community and belonging. Growing up in Loxton gave me a deep connection with our land. The mighty River Murray and the surrounding banks of reeds, inlets and scrub was the natural world in all its spectacular glory, and was in many ways our playground. I fondly remember waterskiing when I was just four years old, off Proud’s Sandbar just outside of Loxton. It’s where we spent time with friends and family, and it gave me a close appreciation of nature.

Being a child in Loxton for me meant a feeling of idyllic freedom, of imagination and time, and a sense of a higher purpose. This sense also developed at St Albert’s Catholic Primary School in Loxton and at St Ignatius. It was reflected in my early passion for middle- and long-distance running. Robert de Castella was a particular hero, and I was inspired by his world record run in the 1981 Fukuoka marathon and his come-from-behind victory at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. The late Brother Paul Callil was another inspiration. His encouragement to all of us at school to strive for our personal best in athletics influenced me greatly.

Storer

Studying economics at Adelaide university and then an MBA at the Australian National University, I learned the importance of hard work and the value of impartial factual evidence in guiding actions for the greater good. The revelations of the banking royal commission and of various state integrity commissions remind us of the critical importance of demanding integrity in both government and the corporate world. This requires stronger accountability and transparency arrangements. This is why I will push for real-time registration of political donations. In a digital age, it is not good enough to have paper disclosures reported on annually in non-election years and 24 weeks after polling day in an election year.

We can also do better to bring the South Australian people into the parliamentary process. With modern technology, the electorate can more easily have a voice. I therefore plan to invite the input of South Australians into my policy priorities as well as the questions and statements I make, providing them with a real-time voice in the Senate.

My dedication to the principle of fairness comes from my parents. My father loved being a GP and sought to serve his patients with the utmost care and respect, moving to Loxton to broaden his ability to do so. My mother was an extraordinary English teacher, a lover of literature and a walking dictionary. They were pillars of their communities, continuously engaged in activities for our schools and their professional associations, and instilled in me a strong sense of service, humility, compassion and empathy.

Storer

A society is judged, I believe, on how it treats its most vulnerable, and that is why we must do more to address the refugee crisis, by finding a pathway to regional processing in Southeast Asia, and the homelessness crisis here in Australia, with an enhanced focus on providing public housing. It is cheaper to place the homeless in housing than to have them live on the streets and increase the pressure on our welfare resources. Finland and Utah, in the US, have demonstrated this.

Cost-of-living pressures are a major problem for our stability, security and quality of life. Housing affordability, for example, needs greater attention. It takes far longer these days for young families to buy a home than it did their parents. Rents are also increasingly prohibitive, especially for the less well off.

The appalling inadequacy of unemployment allowances is also an issue of fairness. Newstart hasn’t risen in line with national living standards for a quarter of a century and it’s simply not enough to live on. I endorse calls from respected economists, business and welfare groups to boost Newstart significantly, and I am incredibly disappointed that the government didn’t pay attention to this in the budget. With the budget revealing a substantial improvement to revenue since Christmas, surely there was room for an increase in Newstart. As the Business Council of Australia noted as far back as 2012, the level of Newstart ‘may now be so low as to represent a barrier to employment’. And this morning John Howard declared that the freeze had probably gone on too long.

Storer

A discussion of fairness cannot ignore our First Nations people. I personally acknowledge the legacy of trauma and grief in communities as a result of colonisation, forced removals and other past government policies. It saddens me greatly that the 10th annual Closing the Gap report, in February this year, showed that only three of the seven targets are on track after a decade. It is shameful that, by percentage, more of our First Nations people are in jail than any other indigenous group in the world. The historic hand of reconciliation extended to our parliament through the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains unmet. I support calls for a First Nations voice in parliament to be enshrined in our Constitution and for a makarrata commission to supervise a process of truth telling and agreement making. I welcome initiatives to encourage more Indigenous entrepreneurship and participation in small and medium-sized businesses. The Commonwealth’s Indigenous Procurement Policy should be adopted by all levels of government and more companies to drive demand for Indigenous goods and services and grow the Indigenous business sector.

My vision for our ongoing prosperity centres on our lucky proximity to and relationship with Asia. I’ve lived it since I got on a plane at the age of 23, just over 25 years ago, with a one-way ticket to Hong Kong. This was a seminal moment in my life. I was struck, on my first flight into Hong Kong, by the seemingly daredevil half-turn over high-rise apartments just 15 seconds before landing at Kai Tak Airport, right in the middle of the city. This apparently risky but regulation routine was repeated every five minutes throughout the day and said so much about the intensity and dynamism of that vibrant city.

Storer

Hong Kong at that time was bursting with entrepreneurs. The dynamic mindset—embracing change, seeking new horizons for experience and prosperity—has been a constant reminder to me to ‘have a go’. This led me to my first role in Hong Kong, where I worked with the late Alison Wenck, who was the driving force behind a magazine aptly titled Austral-Asian Entrepreneur, and from there to a career with entrepreneurial SMEs across Asia—from Guangzhou, to Haiphong, to Saigon, to Shanghai, or selling into Asia from Australia in Sydney and Adelaide.

It also led me to learn languages of the countries I was living in, be it Mandarin, which I’ve now resumed learning for the third time, or Vietnamese. I’ve always tried to learn the local language. It was both respectful and offered insights I could not have otherwise gained into the societies in which I was living. More Australian school students should be learning Asian languages for these reasons alone, as well as for other economic and strategic advantages. Life in Asia requires perseverance and a flexible, entrepreneurial mindset. Hard work, focus and having a go have helped raise hundreds of millions out of poverty in a generation.

The opportunities for permanent benefit for South Australia and Australia are obvious. In little more than a decade, it is estimated Asia will have a middle class of around three billion people, a 600 per cent increase in 20 years, whereas the middle class in Europe and the US combined will be 1.2 billion, just 40 per cent of Asia’s. This is not just China. Presently our two-way trade with South-East Asia actually exceeds that with China, and opportunities for doing much more with South-East Asia as well as India are strong. We already see dramatic examples of what deepening trade with Asia can bring to our economy and society—a 63 per cent year-on-year increase in Australian wine exports to China in 2017, much of that from South Australia; the growth of international education to be our third-largest export industry; and the number of Chinese tourists doubling in the last five years to be our largest visitor market.

Our proximity to Asia and the inherent strengths of ‘brand Australia’ in perceptions there put us in a superb position. We are automatically and rightly seen as high quality all over Asia. For a large country rich in land and natural resources with a relatively small population, foreign investment in Australia is essential to our development. We must resist knee-jerk reactions against investment by non-Western entities. We must also support more Australian companies and institutional investors to invest in Asian countries. We should also deepen engagement with Indonesia. Too much of our mindset is in looking beyond that country. Mutual opportunities are being missed.

Storer

Asia provides new markets for entrepreneurship and innovation in South Australia about which I am passionate. I welcome the growth of incubators, hubs, co-working spaces, precincts and business parks that will further foster exciting development in our state. I also see great potential for South Australia around advanced manufacturing. From my recent business experience, there is clearly global demand for high-quality, advanced manufacturing products from our state. For example, we should capitalise on the opportunity to bring car manufacturing jobs back to South Australia through the electric vehicle revolution. EV car sales are growing internationally. All the major car brands are investing heavily in developing EVs to meet increasing demand. Australia is one of the few places that has all the natural and human resources needed to build an electric vehicle within a stable political environment. We have lithium and other minerals that are essential to making the batteries in cars themselves. We have the parts manufacturers and the engineers who can build the machines that will make these cars. But the missing piece of the pie is domestic EV uptake. We need the right policies and leadership to encourage this, and I’m disappointed that the government didn’t focus on this in the budget.

I’m also passionate about the positive impact that South Australia’s arts and festivals have had for the state. Building on the legacy of Don Dunstan, Adelaide is an ideal place to foster creative entrepreneurial businesses, tourism, sport, film and television productions, and music.

Sustainability is important to me not just environmentally but also economically. We must have responsible, broad-based tax reform to create a more sustainable, equitable tax-and-transfer system. Our current budget deficit and debt demand it. Our present tax system is insufficiently robust to support a medium-term fiscal strategy of budget surpluses on average over the course of the economic cycle.

This may be my first speech, but I’m sure people want to know what I think about last night’s budget, given the first major decision I had to make in this chamber concerned the government’s enterprise tax plan. I welcome the first round of personal tax cuts announced in last night’s budget. They are affordable; they are also neatly targeted and provide much needed relief for low- and middle-income earners. The benefits will flow directly into the economy.

But I have serious doubts about the last round of tax cuts due to come in six budgets and two elections from now. They would be regressive. There are questions about their affordability. The personal and company tax cuts proposed by the government do not amount to comprehensive tax reform. We should refocus on the principal reform elements of the Henry review into the tax and transfer system, commissioned 10 years ago this month. As the 2015 Intergenerational report notes, spending needs should take into account Australia’s ageing population, which has important implications for the growing demand for health, aged care services and retirement incomes.

Storer

We should continue to support businesses with R&D, innovation and industrial transformation; fund world-class education and health systems; harness the contribution potential of our youth and ageing populations; and increase investment in public infrastructure, which has the effect of stimulating economic growth at the same time as securing long-term benefits to our communities.

Amid all of this, we must not lose sight of the existential threat posed by human induced climate change. Climate change is the significant risk to our economy, national security and environment. As we know, tackling this issue will take strong and dedicated leadership and vision.

Before concluding, I want to refer to my passionate advocacy for the Australian republic. A home-grown Australian head of state is essential in a nation which defines itself as self-determining. It’s ironic and telling that to be a member of this chamber you cannot hold British citizenship, but you must be British to be our head of state. I’ve been actively involved in advocating for an Australian republic for over a quarter of a century. I have fond yet also queasy memories of organising a pre-1999 republican referendum yum cha lunch, with speakers being former Prime Minister Whitlam and current Prime Minister Turnbull, in the floating Chinese restaurant in Rose Bay in Sydney.

Senators usually have six years to make their contribution in this place. From the time of my declaration by the High Court, my initial term will be 500 days. I look at this as a glass half full. I will make every day count and judge every issue on its merits against the benchmarks of integrity, fairness, prosperity and sustainability. These are principles I will uphold for the people of South Australia in my role as senator for them, and I hope that will meet with their continuing support. Thank you.

Storer


Sen. Kristina Keneally (ALP-NSW) – Maiden Speech

Senator Kristina Keneally (ALP-NSW) has delivered her first speech to the Senate, watched by a large contingent of Labor members, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Keneally

Keneally, 49, has filled the casual vacancy created by the resignation of Sam Dastyari. She was formally chosen by a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament on February 14, 2018. She is the 98th woman elected to the Senate since 1901.

Keneally was the ALP member for Heffron in the NSW Legislative Assembly between 2003 and 2012. She was Premier of NSW between December 2009 and March 2011, leading the ALP to defeat after sixteen years in office. Keneally has worked as a commentator on Sky News for the past three years. She was the ALP candidate in the Bennelong by-election last December.

Hansard transcript of maiden speech by Senator Kristina Keneally (ALP-NSW)

Senator KENEALLY (New South Wales) (17:07): Thank you, Mr President. In the year before this chamber opened, 1987, just after I graduated from high school, I took a job on an assembly line at Johns-Manville, a fibreglass manufacturer who had two factories in my hometown of Waterville, Ohio. The work was tedious and hot. But the hourly rate was good, compared to other jobs, and it helped me save for my up-front university fees. I worked eight-hour shifts, sometimes 12 hours, on a crew of four. We wore these heavy canvas jumpsuits. When slivers of fibreglass got caught between the canvas collar and the back of our necks, or in the space between the cuff and the inside of the wrist, the itching would drive us crazy. [Read more…]