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.

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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…]


Shorten Announces Minor Changes To Shadow Ministry; O’Neill Promoted

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has announced changes to the ALP shadow ministry, following the resignation of Senator Sam Dastyari.

HammondThe new member for Perth, Tim Hammond (pictured), has become Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs and enters the Shadow Outer Ministry in place of Dastyari. Hammond will continue as the Shadow Minister Assisting for Resources but his Digital Economy and Startups position has been abolished.

O'NeillNSW Right Senator Deborah O’Neill (pictured) will become a shadow parliamentary secretary, as Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation.

Senator Katy Gallagher becomes Manager of Opposition in the Senate, a role also previously held by Dastyari. She retains her position as Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services.

The 48-member executive includes 22 members in the Shadow Cabinet, 10 in the Shadow Outer Ministry and 16 Shadow Assistant Ministers (Parliamentary Secretaries). The total Caucus numbers are not yet final but are likely to be around 95 members. About half of the Caucus will be members of the shadow executive. [Read more…]


Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Royal Commission Into Banking Industry

The Senate today passed a motion calling for the establishment of a royal commission to inquire into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry.

The motion was moved by the ALP leader in the Senate, Penny Wong. After five minutes of discussion, it was passed on the voices.

The motion was similar to one rejected the day before by the House of Representatives.

The motion requested the concurrence of the House. When it was presented to the House later in the day, the government was outmanoeuvred by the Opposition in a series of votes. The absence of Coalition MPs meant that the government lost control of the House for nearly two hours. [Read more…]


ACT Senate Results Finalised: One-All, No Change

The Senate results for the Australian Capital Territory were finalised and announced today.

With just two senators to be chosen, the proportional system ensures that the ALP and Liberal Party will usually take one senator each. The ALP’s Katy Gallagher was re-elected, as was the Liberal Party’s Zed Seselja.

The ALP polled 37.94% of the primary vote, up 3.50% from the 2013 election. The Liberals polled 33.21%, up 0.13%. The Greens received 16.10%.

Gallagher has been a senator since replacing Kate Lundy in March, 2015. Previously, she was a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (2001-14) and Chief Minister from 2011 to 2014.

Seselja has been a senator since 2013. He defeated the former member, Gary Humphries, in a bitter preselection contest. Previously, Seselja was a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (2004-13). He was Opposition Leader from 2007 until 2013. [Read more…]


The Ages Of The Shorten ALP Shadow Ministry

This is a breakdown of the Shorten ALP Shadow Ministry based on age.

For comparative purposes, see the statistics on The Ages of The Turnbull Government Ministers.

Whereas Turnbull is currently the only member of the executive over the age of 60, the ALP has 8 such members, including 2 in the Shadow Cabinet: Jenny Macklin and Senator Kim Carr. In most respects, however, the age breakdown is fairly similar between the ALP and the Coalition.

The oldest member of the Shorten team is Warren Snowdon, 66, who first entered Parliament in 1987. The youngest is Senator Sam Dastyari, 32, who filled a casual vacancy in 2013.

The average age of the Shorten team is 50.2, compared to 48.7 for the government. Turnbull’s Cabinet has an average age of 49.4, compared to Shorten’s 50.0.

Shorten ALP Opposition – Ages of Shadow Ministers – Summary
Group 60-69 50-59 40-49 30-39 Total Average Age
CABINET
2
7
11
1
21
50.0
OUTER MINISTRY
2
2
3
2
9
48.4
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES
4
6
4
2
16
51.4
TOTALS
8
15
18
5
46
50.2

[Read more…]


COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government. [Read more…]


Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend. [Read more…]