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…]


The Second Turnbull Ministry Reshuffled – Statistical Analysis

This page provides statistical data on the revised Second Turnbull Ministry, as announced on December 19, 2017.

The 42-member executive includes 23 Cabinet ministers (up from 22), 7 members of the Outer Ministry (down from 8) and 12 Assistant Ministers/Parliamentary Secretaries.

There are five new Cabinet members, three of whom – Sen. Bridget McKenzie, John McVeigh and David Littleproud – have moved directly from the backbench. Two members of the outer ministry – Michael Keenan and Dan Tehan – have moved into Cabinet.

One Cabinet minister, Darren Chester, and one assistant minister, Keith Pitt, have been dumped to the backbench.

Other features of the reshuffle:

  • The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has been appointed High Commissioner to the UK. Brandis will resign from the Senate in the new year. Christian Porter becomes Attorney-General, a post he previously held in the Western Australian state government. Senator Mathias Cormann becomes Leader of the Government in the Senate.
  • The National Party’s deputy leader, Senator Fiona Nash, resigned due to dual citizenship. Her replacement as deputy leader, Senator Bridget McKenzie, moves from the backbench into Cabinet, displacing fellow Victorian Darren Chester.
  • Following the resignation of Senator Stephen Parry, due to dual citizenship, his position as President of the Senate was taken by Senator Scott Ryan. Ryan’s duties as Special Minister of State will be taken on by Senator Cormann.
  • Senator Arthur Sinodinos removed himself from consideration for the ministry, due to his cancer treatment. He has indicated he will be able to resume duties in mid-2018.
  • Craig Laundy has been promoted from Assistant Minister to the Outer Ministry.
  • There are three new assistant ministers: David Coleman, Damian Drum and Melissa Price. Drum served as a minister in the Victorian Napthine government in 2014.
  • Peter Dutton has become Minister for Home Affairs, the enlarged portfolio dealing with immigration, security, border control and law enforcement. Dutton will oversee the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
  • Sen. Michaelia Cash takes on the enlarged portfolio of Jobs and Innovation. Industrial Relations moves from the cabinet level to Craig Laundy’s outer ministry.

The first table shows the ministry by party, age, sex, state and parliamentary chamber.

The second table lists each member of the executive and gives their birthdays, ages, electorates, states, date when first elected to parliament, and portfolio. The lists are ordered by age. [Read more…]


Government Announces Banking Royal Commission Following Request From Big Four

The federal government has announced a royal commission into the banks and the financial sector, reversing its previous opposition to such a move.

The announcement came at a press conference at 9.00am this morning, following a Cabinet meeting. The decision was preceded by a request from the major banks for a royal commission. In a letter to the government, the chairmen and chief executives of CBA, NAB, ANZ and Westpac said:

“In light of the latest wave of speculation about a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the banking and finance sector, we believe it is now imperative for the Australian Government to act decisively to deliver certainty to Australian’s financial services sector, our customers and the community.”

Recent days have seen increasing calls for a royal commission, especially from elements in the National Party. The House of Representatives resumes sitting next week. With two members down and facing by-elections, the government risked embarrassment in the chamber.

  • Listen to Turnbull and Morrison (33m)
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The Letter from the Banks

17-11-30_banks-royal-commission-letter


Senate Refers Nash And Xenophon To High Court; Hinch And Gallagher Safe; Hanson Audit Motion Defeated

The Senate today voted to refer Senators Fiona Nash and Nick Xenophon to the High Court. The court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, will rule on their eligibility to nominate at the 2016 election.

The government leader, Senator George Brandis, moved that Senator Nash be referred, in order to determine whether she was a British dual citizen in breach of Section 44(i) of the Constitution.

Senator Xenophon moved to refer himself to the High Court. He delivered a statement explaining that he was born in Australia to Greek and Cypriot parents. He said that “out of an abundance of caution” he had renounced any rights to Greek or Cypriot citizenship but had been advised that he might hold British “overseas citizenship” on account of his father having been a British subject before he migrated to Australia.

The Senate heard a statement from Senator Derryn Hinch (DHJP-Vic). Hinch explained the circumstances in which he was eligible to receive a United States government pension. The government and the ALP have agreed that Hinch’s circumstances do not warrant a referral to the High Court.

The Senate also heard a statement from Senator Katy Gallagher (ALP-ACT). She explained the circumstances which gave rise to the possibility of her holding Ecuadorian and British citizenship. No attempt was made to refer Gallagher to the court.

Senator Pauline Hanson (One Nation-Qld) moved to establish an audit of all members of parliament to clarify their eligibility. The government and the ALP both opposed the motion and it was defeated by 43 votes to 13.

The High Court will hear the dual citizenship cases next month. In addition to Nash and Xenophon, it will hear the cases concerning Scott Ludlam, Larissa Waters, Matthew Canavan, Malcolm Roberts and Barnaby Joyce.

  • Watch the Senate proceedings (39m)
  • Listen to the Senate proceedings (39m)

Hansard transcript of Senate proceedings to refer members to the High Court.

Senator BRANDIS (Queensland—Attorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (10:07): by leave—I move:

That pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Senate refers to the Court of Disputed Returns the following questions— [Read more…]


George Williams On Dual Citizenship And Same Sex Marriage Survey

Professor George Williams, Dean of Law at the University of New South Wales, has addressed the National Press Club on the dual citizenship issue and the same sex marriage postal survey.

Williams suggested that the Turnbull government is “running against the grain of existing High Court authority” in relation to the marriage survey and the seven dual citizenship cases currently before the court.

In his address, Williams called for a range of constitutional reforms.

Williams, 48, has been Dean of Law since 2016. He was admitted to practice in 1993 and served as an associate to Justice Michael McHugh in the High Court. He has worked as a solicitor and barrister and has extensive academic experience at a number of universities.

A member of the ALP, Williams has unsuccessfully contested preselection on two occasions.

  • Watch Williams’ Address in full (59m)
  • Listen to Williams’ speech (33m)
  • Listen to the Question and Answer session (25m)

Transcript of Address to the National Press Club by Professor George Williams.

The Constitution is not normally front-page news in Australia. Despite the profound impact it has on our politics and society, it is easy to see why.

The United States Constitution reflects its revolutionary origins in beginning with the famous call “We the people.” By contrast, our Constitution is contained in a British Act of Parliament that opens with:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania…

“Whereas” is hardly the sort of beginning that gets the heart racing. In addition, these words are not even complete. They fail to mention Western Australia, which joined the Federation just before the commencement of the Constitution in 1901. [Read more…]


Barnaby Joyce May Have New Zealand Dual Citizenship; Deputy PM Refers Himself To High Court

The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has announced that he may have dual citizenship with New Zealand and therefore be in breach of Section 44(i) of the Constitution.

Joyce has agreed that the government will refer his case to the High Court. He will not resign from his NSW seat of New England and will remain in the Cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

The announcement was made in a brief statement by Joyce to the House of Representatives this morning. The Nationals leader entered the Senate in 2005 and transferred to the House of Representatives in 2013.

Joyce is the fifth MP to be ensnared by Section 44 in recent weeks. Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters have both resigned from the Senate, whilst Senators Matt Canavan (LNP) and Malcolm Roberts (One Nation) have been referred to the High Court. The Nationals member for Lyne, David Gillespie, faces a challenge on the office of profit provision of Section 44.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has written to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, asking him to nominate Labor members who should also be referred to the High Court.

  • Listen to Joyce (2m)
  • Watch Joyce (2m)

Letter from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Hansard transcript of statement to the House of Representatives by Barnaby Joyce. [Read more…]