Dame Quentin Bryce, 25th Governor-General Of Australia, Farewelled In Canberra

Two hours after the announcement that she had been made a Dame, Australia’s 25th Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, was farewelled at a reception at Parliament House tonight.

Bryce

Bryce’s official portrait, painted by artist Ralph Heimans, was unveiled during the farewell.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke in glowing terms of Bryce’s service and approach to the position of Governor-General. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Bryce’s son-in-law, also addressed the gathering. [Read more...]


Arise Dame Quentin And Sir Peter: Abbott Reintroduces Knights And Dames For “Pre-Eminent Australians”

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has announced that Knights and Dames will be reintroduced for “pre-eminent” Australians.

Abbott

The outgoing Governor-General will become Dame Quentin Bryce, whilst the new Governor-General will be Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Abbott said a small number of knights and dames would be created each year. He suggested the number would be four.

The honours would go to people who have been given public office rather than sought it. The award recognises that some people can never entirely return to private life after holding high office such as the Governor-General’s position.

The honours would add a “grace note” to Australia’s public life, Abbott said.

Abbott said the Queen had amended the Letters Patent for the Order of Australia to allow the introduction of knighthoods.

New Zealand has had a similar order of chivalry, known as the Order of Merit, since 1996.

Imperial honours were abolished by the Whitlam government over 40 years ago. They were briefly re-introduced under the Fraser government in the late 1970s but abolished again by the Hawke Labor government in 1983. Even the conservative administration of John Howard did not seek to reintroduce knighthoods.

The former head of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull, currently Minister for Communications in the Abbott government said republicans should not lose too much sleep over Abbott’s announcement. See full statement below.

  • Listen to Abbott’s press conference – transcript below (18m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Watch Channel 7 News report (3m)
  • Watch a response from the NSW ALP (25s)

Media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A new honour for pre-eminent Australians

On my recommendation, Her Majesty the Queen has amended the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia.

Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia will be approved by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. [Read more...]


Paul Howes Quits AWU And Other Political Positions; Disavows Parliamentary Aspirations (For Now)

Paul Howes, the 32-year-old National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, has announced his resignation and indicated he will also relinquish his other political positions in the labour movement and the ALP.

Howes

Howes has been a paid official of the AWU since he was 17. After Bill Shorten left the union in 2007 to enter federal parliament, Howes assumed its leadership. He has been a significant political influence in the ALP, supporting the removal of former prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2010 but falling out with his Right faction colleagues by refusing to support the overthrow of Julia Gillard last year.

In what he said would be his final interview, Howes, who was 14 when he left school, told David Speers on Sky News that he wanted to undertake formal studies. He said it was time “to do something different” and that he would be withdrawing from political commentary.

Howes is also deputy chairman of AustralianSuper, a member of the ALP’s National Executive and vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It appears that he will relinquish these positions as well.

Howes denied that he was standing down to pursue a parliamentary career. Last year, the NSW Right faction passed him over for former Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s Senate position. Today, he left open the possibility of entering parliament at a later time.

Media reports say Howes is now free to advocate cutting the ALP’s formal links with trade unions.

  • Listen to David Speers interview Paul Howes on Sky News (27m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Resignation statement by Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.

This morning I advised the National Executive of my decision to step down as national secretary of our union in July.

It has been a tremendous privilege to serve in this role and I will be eternally grateful for the trust that has been placed in me. [Read more...]


Bill Shorten Takes Aim At Abbott At Launch Of ALP Senate Campaign In Western Australia

Bill Shorten has launched the ALP’s campaign for the Western Australian Senate election with an attack on Tony Abbott over Medicare, education and jobs.

Shorten

Speaking at the launch at the University Club of Western Australia, the Opposition Leader told his audience: “We can do this.”

Shorten said: “You can vote for growth and prosperity, for jobs, health and education – or you can vote for Tony Abbott’s cynically hidden agenda. You can vote for a party that cares about the jobs of the future – or you can vote for a party that ships them overseas. You can vote to save Medicare – or you can vote for a GP tax. You can vote for better schools, more teachers and more resources – or you can vote for broken promises and slashed funding.”

The Senate election takes place on April 5. It follows the High Court’s voiding of last year’s election after the Australian Electoral Commission lost over 1300 ballot papers during the count.

  • Listen to Shorten’s speech (22m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Transcript of Bill Shorten’s speech launching the ALP’s Western Australian Senate campaign at the University Club of Western Australia.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – and their elders past and present.

It is always a pleasure to be in the West – and to be here with my wife Chloe, my family, and among friends: [Read more...]


Geoff Brock Accepts Ministry From Jay Weatherill And Delivers Minority Government To Labor In South Australia

South Australia will have a minority Labor government with the support of independent member Geoff Brock, who has accepted a Cabinet post as Minister for Regional Development.

Brock-Weatherill

Brock, the member for Frome, announced his decision this morning at a joint press conference with Premier Jay Weatherill. It comes after yesterday’s announcement that the other independent member, Bob Such, is to take two months sick leave from the new parliament.

Counting of results in the election has confirmed that the ALP will have 23 seats, the Liberals 22 and independents 2. Without Such, a minority Liberal government is not possible. With Brock’s support, Labor can govern with 24 votes to 22. After the provision of a Speaker, Labor will have 23-22 on the floor of the House of Assembly. If Such supports the Liberal Party when he returns, the Speaker’s casting vote will be required for the government to survive.

Were Such to resign and cause a by-election, his electorate of Fisher would almost certainly be won by the Liberal Party but the government could still survive with the support of Brock.

Brock said his decision provided stability for South Australia. “I’m here for one reason, security and stability,” he said.

Brock’s agreement is with Weatherill personally, not with the ALP, and it allows him to vote independently in certain situations.

Weatherill has been Premier since 2011. He replaced Mike Rann who took Labor into government in 2002 and led it to re-elections in 2006 and 2010. If the minority government can survive a full term until 2018, it will complete 16 years in office.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the ALP had no mandate from the electorate which supported the Liberals by a margin of 53% to 47% on a two-party-preferred basis.

  • Listen to Brock and Weatherill (30m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Marshall (9m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Marshall


The Abbott Ministry – Revised List Following Sinodinos Departure

This is the revised Abbott Ministry, following the departure of Assistant Treasurer Senator Arthur Sinodinos.

Sinodinos stood aside yesterday in the face of pressure over the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into Australian Water Holdings.

Senator Mathias Cormann is listed as “Acting Assistant Treasurer”. [Read more...]


Assistant Treasurer Senator Arthur Sinodinos Stands Aside Over ICAC Investigations

The Assistant Treasurer, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, has stood aside from the Abbott ministry pending investigations by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Sinodinos

Sinodinos announced his decision just before Question Time in the Senate.

Asked about Sinodinos in House of Representatives Question Time, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the decision was made by Sinodinos: “It is in the best and most honourable Westminster tradition that he do so.”

A former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister John Howard, Sinodinos was a board member and shareholder in a company, Australian Water Holdings, with links to former NSW Labor MP Eddie Obeid.

In a statement to the Senate, Sinodinos said:

“I do not want this sideshow to be an unnecessary distraction to the important work of the government which I am proud to serve.

“While this process is underway I will therefore be standing aside as Assistant Treasurer.

“I thank my colleagues for their strong support and for their ongoing faith in my integrity.

“The ICAC is an important forum, the appropriate forum, for me to answer any questions in relation to this matter.”

Sinodinos is the first ministerial casualty of the Abbott government. His departure comes just one day after the six-month anniversary of the government taking office.

Sinodinos, 57, was a Treasury public servant in the 1980s and 1990s. He acted as an adviser to Opposition Leader John Howard (1987-89) and was Senior Adviser and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Howard (1996-2006). He was Honorary Treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party (2009-11) and Liberal Party President (2011-12). He entered the Senate in 2011 after Helen Coonan retired. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2008.

Abbott

  • Listen to Sinodinos’s statement to the Senate (1m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Abbott’s statement to the House of Representatives (1m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • List of Ministerial Resignations Since 1901
  • Tony Abbott: Statement of Ministerial Standards