Pope Benedict XVI To Resign On February 28; First Papal Resignation Since 1415

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28.

Citing health concerns, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, has been Pope since 2005.

Pope Gregory XII was the last Pope to resign, in 1415.

Statement released by the Vatican.


Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican,

10 February 2013


Mining Tax Raises $126 Million In First Six Months

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has announced that the mining tax has raised $126 million in its first six months.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax was budgeted to raised $2 billion in its first year.

Text of statement from the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

Minerals Resource Rent Tax revenue

Today, the Australian Tax Office has provided the Government with combined Minerals Resource Rent Tax revenue figures for the first two quarters of the 2012-13 financial year.

Combined revenue from the first two quarters of the MRRT totalled $126m.

It’s clear revenues from resource rent taxes have taken a massive hit from the impact of continued global instability, commodity price volatility and a high dollar.

Revenues across the board are down very substantially – MRRT is a profits-based tax that raises more revenue when profits are higher and less when they are lower.

The Government has always supported increased transparency in our tax system and we believe any revenue from the MRRT should be published – which is why I am making this information public after it was received earlier today.

The Assistant Treasurer is leading the Government’s work to broaden transparency in the business tax system, including in relation to MRRT revenue, and remove any ambiguity from reporting requirements.

The information being released today was provided by the ATO following recent collections after it was satisfied disclosing two quarters’ instalments would not breach taxpayer confidentiality provisions of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

The information provided by the ATO today is attached [PDF 99KB].

Tony Abbott’s Remarks To The Shadow Cabinet

Federal Parliament sits tomorrow for the first time in 2013.

Today, the ALP caucus met and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott held a meeting of his Shadow Cabinet.

This is Liberal Party video of Abbott addressing the Shadow Cabinet:

Text of remarks by Tony Abbott to the Shadow Cabinet.

This is obviously the first Shadow Cabinet meeting of an election year. It is particularly important that we give the Australian people the kind of good government that they expect. We can’t take anything for granted but they are looking to us to provide a better government after the next election.

Now, the thing is that we have been talking, as you all know, as all of you have been doing for the last two years and people expected us for most of that time to hold the Government to account and we certainly did that, but I think what people are now looking for is for a little bit more from us. They want us not so much to be an Opposition but to be an alternative government and I think you would have noticed from Julie, from me, from Warren, from Joe that that is exactly what you’ve been getting over the last few weeks. [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 February 4, 2013. On February 2, Senator Chris Evans announced his retirement from politics. The ALP Caucus elected Senator Stephen Conroy as his replacement on February 4. Senator Penny Wong became the deputy leader.

House of Representatives
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Julia Gillard
Member for Lalor (Vic)
Wayne Swan
Member for Lilley (Qld)
Liberal Party Tony Abbott
Member for Warringah (NSW)
Julie Bishop
Member for Curtin (WA)
National Party Warren Truss
Member for Wide Bay (Qld)
Senator Nigel Scullion
Northern Territory
Australian Greens Adam Bandt
Member for Melbourne (Vic)

The major parties also elect leaders and deputy leaders in the Senate. These people form part of the leadership group and act as the focal point for their parties in the upper house.

For example, the current ALP leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, is referred to as the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Eric Abetz is referred to as the Opposition Leader in the Senate.

Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Senator Stephen Conroy
Senator Penny Wong
(South Australia)
Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz
Senator George Brandis
National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce
Senator Fiona Nash
(New South Wales)
Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne

The Second Gillard Ministry – Revised 2013

This is the revised Gillard ministry, as of February 4, 2013.

The ministerial changes arose from last week’s retirements of the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, and the Government’s Leader in the Senate, Senator Chris Evans. [Read more…]

Evans, Roxon Quit Gillard Cabinet; Reshuffle Imminent

12.45 – Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has joined Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans in departing the Gillard Cabinet.

It is reported that Roxon does not intend to contest the next election.

Reports say Gillard’s reshuffle includes the demotion of Chris Bowen to the portfolios currently held by Evans. Gillard confidante Brendan O’Connor is said to in line for promotion to Immigration Minister.

The reports say Mark Dreyfus will become Attorney-General, whilst Jason Clare is to be promoted.

11.45pm – Later media reports say that Senator Chris Evans is resigning from the Cabinet and the Senate leadership but remaining in Parliament.

Earlier reports left open the possibility that ill health was forcing Evans’s resignation but this now appears not to be the case. A Cabinet resignation ahead of next week’s resumption of Parliament and the first ALP Caucus meeting of the year has quite different implications.

The Sky News correspondent, Peter van Onselen, tweeted this at 11.24pm tonight:


Chris Evans, Gillard Cabinet Minister, Government Senate Leader, Resigning

10.00pm – Senator Chris Evans, the Gillard government’s leader in the upper house and Minister for Tertiary Education, is reportedly quitting politics immediately.

EvansMedia reports tonight say that Evans will announce his resignation as a minister and senator tomorrow morning. No reason has been given.

Evans has been a senator from Western Australia since 1993. He has been the ALP leader in the Senate since October 2004.

Following the election of the Rudd government in 2007, Evans entered the Cabinet as Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Government Leader in the Senate.

After the 2010 election, Evans became Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations. Following a reshuffle in December 2011, he became Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.

His resignation will require a minor reshuffle. His position as Senate leader will most likely be taken by his current deputy, Stephen Conroy.

A by-election will not be required. Under Section 15 of the Constitution, Evans’s position in the Senate will be filled by the Western Australian parliament which is required to appoint a replacement from the same party.

It has been a lively week for the Gillard government. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced September 14 as the election date. Yesterday, the member for Dobell, Craig Thomson, was arrested and charged with fraud.


Tony Abbott’s Address To The National Press Club

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has addressed the National Press Club in Canberra, a day after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the September 14 election date.

Abbott reprised the now familiar themes from his speeches over the past couple of years.

He committed a Coalition government to abolishing the School Kids Bonus. [Read more…]