Sussan Ley Resigns From Ministry; Turnbull Announces Reforms To Politicians’ Entitlements

The Health Minister, Sussan Ley, has resigned from the Turnbull ministry.

Ley announced her resignation after a week of adverse political reaction to publicity about her travel expenses and visits to the Gold Coast. On one visit, Ley purchased an investment property.

Investigations by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance are still underway but it is reported that the prime minister believed Ley’s position had become untenable. He announced her resignation at a press conference called to announce reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

Ley released the text of her resignation letter to Turnbull (see below). She maintained that she had done nothing wrong and was not in breach of the ministerial code of conduct. She said she was resigning because the “ongoing media coverage of politicians’ entitlements has been a diversion from the important agenda we all wish to advance at the start of this vital year for our nation and our region”.

Turnbull announced that the government would establish an independent expenses authority to monitor and adjudicate all claims by politicians. He said the government would continue to implement all the recommendations of the Conde and Tune review of the parliamentary entitlements system.

Sussan Ley’s resignation letter.

Ley

Transcript of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s press conference announcing reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

TURNBULL: Good afternoon.

Today I have received notice from the Honourable Sussan Ley, of her intention to resign as the Minister Health, Ageing and Sport. I want to thank her for her service to the Government as a Minister and as a member of the Executive over many years.

I will make a further announcement about ministerial arrangements next week. In the meantime, the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Sinodinos, will continue to act as Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport. [Read more…]


Keating Warns Against Tillerson’s South China Sea Adventurism

Former prime minister Paul Keating has criticised remarks by the US Secretary of State-designate, Rex Tillerson, regarding what he terms “adventurism” over the South China Sea.

Keating issued a statement following remarks by Tillerson at his confirmation hearings in Washington DC. Tillerson said that a “signal” should be sent to China over its access to islands in the South China Sea. He said that American allies should be there to “show back-up”.

Keating says Australia should have no part of such adventurism, as it should have had no part in the Iraq war 15 years ago.

Statement by Paul Keating.

Keating


President-Elect Donald Trump’s Press Conference

President-elect Donald Trump has held his first major press conference since the election.

Trump

The press conference took place in New York City. Its ostensible purpose was for Trump to announce that his two sons would take control of his business interests whilst he is president.

Trump clashed with journalists during the press conference. Questions were asked about Russian interference in the election and about conflicts of interest confronting Trump.

Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President on January 20.

  • Listen to Trump’s press conference – transcript below (60m)
  • Watch Trump (60m)
17-01-11_trump-press-conference-transcript

Senator Rodney Culleton Disqualified; Senate President Declares Vacancy In WA; High Court To Decide How To Fill It

Senator Rodney Culleton has been disqualified and has lost his position in the upper house because of the bankruptcy judgement delivered against him before Christmas.

CulletonThe Senate President, Stephen Parry, announced tonight that he had notified the Western Australian Governor that a vacancy exists in the state’s Senate representation.

Parry said the High Court would decide if the vacancy was a casual vacancy or whether Culleton was ineligible to be chosen at last year’s double dissolution election. In coming weeks, the High Court will rule on an application to declare Culleton ineligible on the basis of a conviction in NSW.

A vacancy caused by Culleton’s ineligibility under Section 44 would probably mean that a countback of the 2016 Senate votes would take place. This would result in Culleton’s brother-in-law taking the seat.

A casual vacancy under Section 15 of the Constitution would enable the Western Australian branch of One Nation to nominate a replacement. It is not clear whether Culleton’s supporters control the WA branch. The party’s federal leader, Senator Pauline Hanson, will clearly prefer to nominate someone other than a Culleton supporter.

Culleton released a letter he sent to Senator Parry, arguing that Parry acted precipitately before the bankruptcy proceedings had been completed.

Statement by President of the Senate, Stephen Parry.

Parry

Letter from Rodney Culleton to Senate President Stephen Parry.

Culleton


President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address

Barack Obama has delivered his farewell address, ten days before he leaves office after serving two consecutive terms as the 44th President of the United States.

Obama

Speaking in Chicago, Obama finished where he began in the 2008 election campaign, exhorting his supporters “to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes we can.”

  • Listen to Obama’s speech (56m)
  • Watch Obama (52m)

Prepared transcript of President Barack Obama’s farewell address.

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.

After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government. [Read more…]


Meryl Streep On Donald Trump: “Disrespect Invites Disrespect”

Meryl Streep has excoriated Donald Trump at the 2017 Golden Globe awards ceremony in Hollywood.

Speaking twelve days before Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President, Streep referred to Trump’s characterisation of a disabled reporter and said that “disrespect invites disrespect”.

“The instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful – it filters down into everybody’s life, because it gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”

  • Listen to Streep’s speech (6m)
  • Watch Meryl Streep’s speech (6m)

Speech by Meryl Streep at the 2017 Golden Globes Awards.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down. Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all, but you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend, and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year so I have to read. [Read more…]


Sussan Ley Stands Aside From Ministry; Investigation Into Gold Coast Travel Expenses

The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, has stood aside from the Turnbull ministry, pending an investigation into her travel expenses.

Ley

The Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will investigate her travel expenses in relation to visits to the Gold Coast over the past couple of years. During one visit, Ley purchased an investment property. The Health department will also conduct an investigation.

Ley will stand aside without ministerial pay, until the investigation is completed. Senator Arthur Sinodinos will act as Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Minister for Sport.

At her press conference in Albury, Ley denied any wrongdoing.  In a statement issued yesterday, she apologised for an “error of judgement”.

Ley is the first ministerial casualty of the Turnbull government since last year’s election. After replacing Tony Abbott in September 2015, Turnbull lost three ministers in his first five months as prime minister.

Statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Travel claims by the Minister for Health

Today I have asked the Secretary of my Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet for advice in relation to the Statement of Ministerial Standards relating to travel claims made by the Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, the Hon Sussan Ley MP. [Read more…]