High Court Throws Out NSW Election Donation Laws; Victory For Unions And Corporations

The High Court has upheld a challenge to New South Wales’s election donation laws.

The challenge was brought by Unions NSW to the changes legislated by the O’Farrell government in 2012.

The effect of the challenge is to invalidate the changes and make it legal for unions and corporations to donate to political parties. Money spent on election advertising by unions affiliated to the ALP will now not be included in the ALP’s expenditure limits. [Read more...]


MYEFO: Greens Say Focus Should Be On How To Raise Revenue, Call For End To Panic On Debt

The Australian Greens have reacted to the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) by calling for an end to the panic about debt in favour of a new focus on how to raise revenue to fund services and jobs.

Milne

“Now is not the time to be talking about spending restraint because of a panic on debt,” said Greens leader Senator Christine Milne.

“The old parties wasted the resources boom,” Milne said. “A serious look at raising revenue is necessary to address subdued unemployment, an ageing workforce and increased demand for services.”

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Text of media release from the Australian Greens.

End panic on debt and let’s talk about revenue and jobs – Greens

Responding to the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne has warned against deep budget cuts and says the focus should now be on how we can raise revenue to spend on public services and the infrastructure of the future. [Read more...]


The Greens On Abbott: 100 Days, 40 Failures; Secretive, Cruel And Chaotic

The Abbott government’s first 100 days have been characterised by failure, secrecy, cruelty and chaos, according to the Australian Greens.

Milne

In a media release today, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne said “the Abbott government’s true agenda was hidden behind cheap rhetoric”.

Milne said “the Abbott government has tried to claim a so-called mandate to take Australia back to the last century”. She said “the Australian people didn’t sign up to this and the Greens will stand against it”.

The release provides a list of 40 “failures” of the Abbott government in a variety of policy areas.

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Media release from the Australian Greens:

100 days, 40 failures: a preview of secretive, cruel and chaotic government

Releasing a list of the Abbott government’s top failures, the Australian Greens say the first 100 days have been a secretive, cruel and chaotic preview of what is to come. [Read more...]


Greens Strike Deal With Abbott Government To Abolish Debt Ceiling

With just days to spare before the debt limit needed to be increased, the Australian Greens have struck a deal with the government to abolish the ceiling.

Once labelled “economic fringe-dwellers” by the Coalition, the Greens have stolen a march on the ALP by negotiating a deal that reshapes the debt debate and sidelines the Opposition.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne told a media conference that the agreement allows for increased parliamentary scrutiny of government debt. An automatic ministerial statement and parliamentary debate will take place whenever a $50 billion increase in debt is undertaken. There is no provision for the parliament to disallow a debt increase.

Milne

The Greens are selling the deal as an agreement that ensures that debt will be justified and the public “will now be able to see whether the government is incurring good debt to invest in our future, or bad debt to cover up a shortfall in revenue”. [Read more...]


Greens And Palmer Back GrainCorp Decision; ALP Says Hockey Acts In The Nationals Interest

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s decision to block the ADM takeover of GrainCorp has met with approval from the Greens and Clive Palmer but has been criticised by the ALP as an attack on foreign investment and a capitulation to The Nationals.

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said Hockey had failed his first big test of credibility as Treasurer. He said Hockey had acted not in the national interest but in the interests of The Nationals. “Hockey can be bullied afterall,” Bowen said.

Bowen

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne said her party was “very pleased” GrainCorp is not to be sold. “Owning our essential infrastructure is critical,” she said.

The Palmer United Party’s Clive Palmer said he would now withdraw his private member’s bill which proposed to legislatively block the ADM takeover.

Palmer

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AEC Finalises $58 Million Of Election Funding To Candidates In Federal Election

The Australian Electoral Commission has made payments to political parties and candidates totalling $58,076,456.01, following the 2013 federal election.

Election funding is provided to parties and candidates polling at least 4% of the primary vote in House and Senate elections. Each first preference vote was worth 248.800 cents.

The payment is indexed. At the 2010 election, each vote was worth 231.191 cents and a total of $53,163,385 was paid to candidates. [Read more...]


Government Tightens Rules On Parliamentarians’ Expenses Claims

The federal government has strengthened the rules governing parliamentarians’ expenses.

The Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, has announced that from January 1, 2014 MPs whose travel claims need adjustment will pay a 25% penalty on top of the adjustment. Mandatory training will be provided to parliamentarians and their staff if more than one claim needs adjustment within a financial year.

The government has tightened rules on travel entitlements for members’ families. It has also stipulated that overseas travel may not be taken first class. Members’ names may also be tabled in parliament if they do no “substantially comply” within a reasonable time with requests for further information.

The government will also ban MPs from employing relatives in their electorate offices. Those who currently do so have until January 1 to make alternative arrangements.

The changes have been announced just days before the new parliament meets for the first time. They follow several weeks of revelations about claims by MPs. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has repaid over $1,700 in travel and accommodation expenses he claimed for attending the weddings of Sophie Mirabella and Peter Slipper in 2006.

Adam Bandt, acting leader of the Australian Greens, said the government was only acting under pressure and its changes were the “bare minimum”. He called for an Integrity Commissioner and a parliamentary “entitlements adviser”.

Statement from the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

STRENGTHENING THE RULES GOVERNING PARLIAMENTARIANS’ BUSINESS EXPENSES

Direct contact between citizens and their elected representatives is an important part of our democracy.

The system of funding the work costs of members and senators in carrying out their responsibilities is complicated by the fact that there is no set job description for the role of a parliamentarian. As independent assessments show, a parliamentarian’s day is routinely long, busy and varied. [Read more...]