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...]


Abbott And Hunt Release Carbon Tax Repeal Legislation

The Abbott government has released an exposure draft of its carbon tax repeal legislation.

The legislation will be open for consultation until November 4, ahead of the return of Parliament on November 12.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement at a press conference in Canberra today. They reaffirmed their commitment to introducing the repeal legislation as the first item of business in the new Parliament.

Abbott-Hunt

Describing new Labor leader Bill Shorten as a “pragmatist”, Abbott said the legislation gave the ALP a last chance to “repent” for its breach of faith with the Australian community when it introduced the carbon tax. “If you are in favour of a good deal for Australian families, and a fair deal for Australian workers and jobs, this is legislation you must support.” [Read more...]


Christine Milne And Adam Bandt Re-Elected To Lead Greens

Senator Christine Milne has been re-elected unopposed as leader of the Australian Greens in the federal parliament.

At a party-room meeting this morning, the first since the federal election, Adam Bandt was also returned unopposed as deputy leader of the party.

Milne

On current figures, not yet finalised, the Greens polled 1,108,612 votes in the House of Representatives, or 8.63% of the primary vote, a loss of 3.13% from 2010.

In the Senate, the Greens polled 1,065,205 votes, or 8.50% of the primary vote, a loss of 4.61% from 2010.

Despite the decline in the Greens vote, Senators Peter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania), Sarah Hanson-Young (South Australia) and Scott Ludlam (Western Australia) have all been re-elected, although Ludlam’s position has not yet been finally confirmed. [Read more...]


Searching For The Nation’s Soul: Greens Launch Campaign For Federal Election

The Australian Greens have launched their campaign for the federal election at a rally in Canberra today.

The party’s leader, Senator Christine Milne, was introduced by the deputy leader and member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt.

Milne

Milne told the gathering: “There are moments in history when people are so troubled that they search for their nation’s soul… One such moment is now. At this election, we as a people have to choose between the best in us and the worst in us.”

She said the election was a “choice between the past, the conflict and greed for absolute power from the old parties, and the Greens”. She said the Greens is a party that “stands for the future, for a caring Australia and a liveable planet”.

  • Listen to Adam Bandt’s introduction (7m)

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  • Listen to Christine Milne’s speech (30m)

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  • Watch Milne’s speech (28m)
  • Listen to Milne and Bandt following the campaign launch (20m)

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Text of the campaign launch speech by the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne.

Well thank you everyone, that’s a bit overwhelming! What a fantastic Green crowd you are here today. I want to thank Adam particularly, he is such an outstanding Deputy Leader for the Australian Greens and I’m confident that Melbourne’s going to bring him back!

I acknowledge that we meet here on the land of the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. The Greens will continue to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around the nation until our first peoples are acknowledged in the Constitution and until racial discrimination is erased from that Constitution once and for all. [Read more...]


Jenny Macklin: I Could Live On The Dole

This is a video clip showing Families Minister Jenny Macklin saying that she could live on the $35 a day Newstart allowance.

Macklin’s office released a transcript of her media conference which depicted the question and answer as inaudible.

  • Jan 2: Listen to Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt comment on living on the dole (9m)

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  • Jan 2: Listen to Cassandra Goldie from Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) comment (3m)

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Transcript of Jenny Macklin’s media conference in Melbourne, as released by the minister’s office.

Dad and Partner Pay, family payments, parenting payment

JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks everyone for coming to The Mercy today, happy New Year to everyone. First of all I’d like to thank everybody here at The Mercy for having us here today and for the family so kindly allowed us to meet their new born baby – just born at 7am this morning – so to Esther and Anthony and their little boy Cooper and baby Lucas, congratulations, it’s really, really wonderful to see a new member of their family. [Read more...]


Current Federal Parliamentary Party 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.

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.

Senate
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Senator Chris Evans
(Western Australia)
Senator Stephen Conroy
(Victoria)
Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz
(Tasmania)
Senator George Brandis
(Queensland)
National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce
(Queensland)
Senator Fiona Nash
(New South Wales)
Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne
(Tasmania)
-



Footnote: Convention dictates that the official leader of the main parties will be a member of the House of Representatives. In 1968, following the death of its Prime Minister, Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose its upper house leader, Senator John Gorton, as the new prime minister. Gorton immediately resigned his Senate seat and contested the by-election for Holt’s lower house electorate, Higgins. Thus, Australia had a prime minister for several weeks who was not a member of either house. This is allowed for in Section 64 of the Constitution.


Bob Brown Resigns; Christine Milne New Greens Leader

Senator Bob Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens.

Brown’s surprise decision was announced at a party meeting in Canberra. Senator Christine Milne was immediately elected as the new leader.

Later in the day, Melbourne MP Adam Bandt was elected deputy leader.

Brown said he would leave the Senate later in the year when the Tasmanian Greens division has finalised pre-selections. [Read more...]