Pauline Hanson’s Senate Burqa Stunt; Labor And Greens Give Brandis A Standing Ovation

Pauline Hanson today staged an anti-burqa stunt during Question Time in the Senate.

The One Nation leader appeared in a burqa at 2.06pm. The Senate President, Senator Stephen Parry, said that her identity had been verified by parliamentary staff.

At 2.09pm, as online and social media began reporting on Hanson’s behaviour, Senator Derryn Hinch raised a point of order regarding dress requirements in the chamber.

At 2.25pm, Hanson rose to ask the Government Leader and Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, whether the government would legislate to ban the burqa. Brandis delivered a stinging rebuke to Hanson and received a standing ovation from ALP and Greens senators.

Hanson used a supplementary question to ask whether the government would ban the burqa in the houses of parliament. Senate President Parry took the question, pointing out that such decisions are the province of the presiding officers.

The ALP leader, Senator Penny Wong, said she would like to have moved a motion of congratulations for Senator Brandis,

After her question, Hanson left the chamber.

  • 2.06pm: Watch Senate President Stephen Parry make the first reference to Hanson’s appearance in a burqa (1m)
  • 2.09pm: Watch Senator Derryn Hinch’s point of order (1m)
  • 2.25pm: Watch Hanson’s question to Brandis (7m)

Scott Ludlam Resigns From The Senate; Victim Of Section 44 Dual Citizenship Rule

Scott Ludlam, an Australian Greens senator from Western Australia, resigned today, after announcing he had dual citizenship with New Zealand and was therefore in breach of Section 44(i) of the Constitution.

Ludlam

Section 44(i) of the Constitution says that a person is “incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator” if they are “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject of a citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.

In a statement, Ludlam said he was born in New Zealand. His family left when he was three years old and settled in Australia when he was nine. “I was naturalised when I was in my mid-teens and assumed that was the end of the New Zealand citizenship.”

Media reports today say that the citizenship question has been previously raised with Ludlam.

Ludlam, 47, was first elected to the Senate in 2007. He took up his seat on July 1, 2008. He was re-elected in 2013 and in the 2014 re-run election. He was re-elected to a six-year term in the 2016 double dissolution election. The Greens polled 10.53% in WA.

Ludlam has been Joint Deputy Leader of the Greens, with Larissa Waters, since May 2015.

It now appears that the Senate will refer the matter to the High Court. Twice this year, the court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, has ordered countbacks following rulings that Rodney Culleton and Bob Day were not entitled to nominate at the election. Assuming this takes place again, the seat will go to the number three candidate on the Greens WA Senate ticket, 22-year-old disability advocate Jordon Steele-John.

Media reports today quote Steele-John as not committing himself to taking the seat. Were he to resign, a casual vacancy would be created and the Greens would nominate a replacement. It would be possible for Ludlam to be appointed in these circumstances, provided he rectifies the citizenship issue. However, Ludlam’s statement and press conference suggested he has chosen to move on to other things.

The practical political implication of today’s resignation by Ludlam is that the Greens will be without one of their number for some months in the Senate. This will not make a significant difference but until the vacancy is filled the Turnbull government will only need eight of the eleven crossbench votes to secure passage of legislation opposed by the ALP and Greens. It currently needs nine extra votes. A pairing arrangement to cover the absence could also be put in place.

Ludlam is the third senator to fall victim to Section 44 since the 2016 election, an unprecedented situation.

  • Watch Ludlam’s media conference in Perth (15m)
  • Listen to the media conference (15m)

Statement from Senator Scott Ludlam. Click to enlarge

Ludlam


Sen. Lucy Gichuhi (SA-Ind) – Maiden Speech

This is Senator Lucy Gichuhi’s first speech to the Senate.

Gichuhi

Gichuhi, 54, was declared elected as a South Australian senator on April 19, 2017. She replaced Senator Bob Day, who resigned in 2016 but whose election was also declared invalid under Section 44 of the Constitution. Gichuhi had been the number two candidate on the Family First ticket at the 2017 election. She was elected following a court-ordered countback of votes. She has chosen to sit as an independent.

  • Listen to Gichuhi’s speech (37m)
  • Watch Gichuhi (42m)

Hansard transcript of Senator Lucy Gichuhi’s maiden speech.

The PRESIDENT (17:15): Pursuant to order, I now call Senator Gichuhi to make her first speech and ask that honourable senators extend the usual courtesies for a first speech. Senator, can I apologise for the delay in commencement, but at least we have everyone in the chamber for you.

Senator GICHUHI (South Australia) (17:16): Today, I, Lucy Muringo Gichuhi, happily stand before you as the first black African-born senator in the history of Australia. I am deeply honoured to be given the privilege of serving the people of Australia as a senator. To all Australians, I say thank you. It is with this sentiment that I honour those who came before me, faithfully leading Australia to build the outstanding nation we see today. [Read more…]


Women In The 45th Australian Parliament

Women make up one-third of the 45th Parliament of Australia.

There are now 75 women in both houses, representing 33.18% of the combined total of 226 members. It was 30.97% at the end of the 44th Parliament.

There are 43 women (28.66%) in the 150-member House of Representatives, and 32 (42.10%) in the 76-member Senate.

With 43 members in both chambers, the ALP has the largest number of women (45.26%) in the parliament. The Liberal Party and Nationals combined have 21 members (20%).

The Greens (10 members in both houses) and the Nick Xenophon Team (4 members in both houses) each have 50-50 male-female representation.

At the 2016 double dissolution election, 30 women were elected to the Senate. Following the resignation of the ALP’s Stephen Conroy, the Victorian casual vacancy was filled by Kimberley Kitching. Following the resignation of Family First’s Bob Day, the South Australian casual vacancy was filled by Lucy Gichuhi, who sits as an independent. [Read more…]


Current Federal Parliamentary Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

These tables are correct as of the first day of the 2017 sittings of the 45th Parliament. Following the retirement of Senator Stephen Conroy on September 30, 2016, the ALP elected Senator Don Farrell as its deputy leader in the Senate. [Read more…]


Senate President’s Statement On Culleton Disqualification

The President of the Senate, Senator Stephen Parry, has made a statement about the disqualification of former Senator Rodney Culleton.

Parry outlined the process that resulted in Culleton’s disqualification as a result of bankruptcy proceedings that placed him in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution.

He also noted the decision of the High Court that Culleton had also not been eligible to nominate for election because of his breach of another part of Section 44.

A countback of votes will determine who replaces Culleton in the Senate.

Hansard transcript of statement by Senator Stephen Parry, President of the Senate.

The PRESIDENT (12:32): I wish to inform you that on the 7 November 2016 the Senate referred to the Court of Disputed Returns questions about the eligibility of Rodney Norman Culleton to sit as a senator. The court delivered its judgment in the matter on Friday, 3 February 2017. Today, I have tabled a copy of the order made by the Court and a copy of its reasons for judgment. To quote the judgment summary published by the Court: [Read more…]


Culleton Ineligible To Nominate For Senate, High Court Rules; Recount Likely To Elect Peter Georgiou

The High Court has ruled that Rodney Culleton was ineligible to be nominated for last year’s Senate election.

Culleton’s position as a senator is now vacant and the High Court has ruled that a recount of votes should take place. This is most likely to result in the election of Peter Georgiou, Culleton’s brother-in-law and the number two candidate on the Western Australian One Nation ticket last year.

The decision by Justices Kiefel, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Nettle was unanimous. Justice Nettle offered reasons which varied in some respects with his colleagues (see decision below).

Sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, the court held that at the time of the election Culleton was convicted and subject to be sentenced for an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer. Under Section 44(ii) of the Constitution, this renders Culleton ineligible to be chosen as a senator.

The court rejected arguments that the subsequent annulment of the conviction made him eligible to stand. The decision says: “It is evident from the terms of s 44(ii) that the framers of the Constitution were concerned to ensure that not only should a person who has already been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one year or longer be disqualified from being chosen or from sitting as a Senator; so too should a person who is able to be so sentenced. The circumstance sought to be guarded against was that such a person might not be able to sit and should for that reason not be able to be chosen.” [Read more…]