Doug Everingham Condolences: House Remembers Whitlam Minister

The House of Representatives today offered condolences following the death of Doug Everingham, the former Labor member for Capricornia and Health minister in the Whitlam governments.

Everingham died on August 24, 2017, aged 94. He represented the Queensland electorate from 1967 to 1975 and from 1977 until 1984. He was one of the original Whitlam ministers and held the Health portfolio throughout the Whitlam period.

Everingham

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to the former doctor during a condolence motion prior to Question Time. Both acknowledged Everingham’s commitment to health issues, especially mental health, and his work in establishing Medibank, the original universal health insurance scheme.

They acknowledged Everingham’s interest in linguistics, including his devotion to Esperanto and spelling reform.

Everingham’s death leaves just three of the original Whitlam ministers still living and five overall.

Everingham was first elected at a by-election in 1967. There are now just 16 members of the 26th Parliament still living.

The death of Doug Everingham means there are now 28 House members from the Menzies era (1949-72) still living. The oldest of these is Henry Pearce, who is also a former member for Capricornia. Pearce, a Liberal, will turn 100 on September 17, 2017. He held Capricornia from 1949 until he was defeated by the ALP’s George Gray in 1961. Gray’s death in 1967 precipitated the by-election won by Everingham.

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Hansard transcript of condolence debate for Doug Everingham.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:01): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death, on 24 August 2017, of the Honourable Douglas Nixon Everingham, a former Minister and Member of this House for the Division of Capricornia from 1967 to 1975 and 1977 to 1984, place on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement. [Read more…]


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)
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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…]


Senate President Statement On Burqa Wearing

The Senate President, Stephen Parry, has made a statement explaining what happened when Senator Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into the chamber.

The incident took place on August 17. Parry explained that Hanson had not jeopardised security since she was already in a secure area of the parliament and called upon security guards to escort her to the chamber.

Parry called for a committee of the Senate to consider amendments to the Standing Orders to give the presiding officers more power to deal with such. situations

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Hansard transcript of statement by Senator Stephen Parry.

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Parliament House: Security

Parliament House: Dress Standards

The PRESIDENT (10:01): On Thursday, 17 August, I indicated that I would reflect on matters that arose during question time that day. These reflections were prompted by Senator Hanson’s decision to wear a burqa into the Senate chamber. Wearing this garment completely concealed her identity. [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)
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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…]


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)

Hansard transcript of Senate Question Time proceedings.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Duniam, a supplementary question.

Senator DUNIAM (Tasmania) (14:06): What risks are there in a registered organisation donating money to the political campaigns of its own staff?

Senator Hanson having entered the chamber —

Senator DUNIAM: What on earth?

Honourable senators interjecting— [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.

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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…]


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.

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Statement from Senator Scott Ludlam. Click to enlarge

Ludlam