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)
  • Listen to the Senate proceedings (39m)

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…]


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…]


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 the first day of the 2017 sittings of the 45th Parliament. Following the retirement of Senator Stephen Conroy on September 30, 2016, the ALP elected Senator Don Farrell as its deputy leader in the Senate. [Read more…]


Susan Kiefel Sworn In As 13th Chief Justice Of The High Court Of Australia

Susan Kiefel has been sworn in as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

Kiefel

Kiefel was sworn in at 10am in a ceremony at the High Court in Canberra. The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, dressed in wig and gown, addressed the court following the ceremony.

Kiefel, 63, is the 13th Chief Justice of the court since it was established in 1903. She succeeds Robert French, who served from 2008.

Under of the Section 72 of the Constitutution, Kiefel must retire by January 17, 2024, when she turns 70. [Read more…]


Susan Kiefel Appointed First Woman Chief Justice Of High Court; James Edelman Fills Vacancy

The Turnbull government has appointed Justice Susan Kiefel as the Chief Justice of the High Court.

KiefelKiefel was first appointed to the High Court in 2007 by the Howard government. She is the longest-serving member of the court and will become the 13th Chief Justice, the first woman Chief Justice and the fourth Chief Justice from Queensland. She will replace Chief Justice Robert French, who was appointed by the Rudd government in 2008.

Kiefel’s appointment means that all three arms – parliament, executive and judicial – of the Australian political system will now have been led by a woman.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis also announced that James Edelman will fill the vacant position on the court. Edelman, has been a judge of the Federal Court since 2015, after serving as a Justice of the Western Australian Supreme Court since 2011. He is a former Professor of Law at Oxford University.

Edelman is 42. He turns 43 on January 9. When he is sworn in on January 30, he will become the fourth youngest Justice of the Court, just behind Sir Owen Dixon, who was 42 years, 9 months and 7 days old when he was appointed in 1929. [Read more…]


Brandis Announces New Anti-Terror Laws; Control Orders To Apply To 14-Year-Olds; Indefinite Detention For Convicted Terrorists

The federal government will this week introduce legislation to extend anti-terrorist control orders to 14-year-olds and to provide for indefinite detention of high-risk offenders.

The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, announced the proposals at a media conference in Brisbane this morning.

Brandis

Control orders currently have a minimum age threshold of 16 years. The government plans to lower this to 14 years.

It also plans to introduce a uniform nationwide regime of post-sentence detention for high-risk offenders who remain unreformed after completing their sentence. Brandis said the proposal provides for the Attorney-General to apply to a state Supreme Court for a post-sentence order. Such an order could include an indefinite period of detention. [Read more…]


Coalition-Labor Deal On Rotation Of Members Confirmed By Senate

The Senate has voted to confirm the agreement between the Coalition and the ALP on the rotation of senators following the double dissolution election.

As has occurred on each of the previous six occasions when double dissolutions have been held (1914, 1951, 1974, 1975, 1983 and 1987), the first six senators elected in each state have received six-year terms, whilst the second group of six will serve for three years. The rotation is required under Section 13 of the Constitution.

The major parties rejected the recount method whereby the Senate votes are recounted as if it was a half-Senate election. This method would have meant that the Liberal and Labor Parties each lose one long-term senator (Scott Ryan and Deborah O’Neill) in favour of minor parties (Derryn Hinch and Lee Rhiannon). [Read more…]