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…]


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…]


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…]


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 45th Parliament, August 30, 2016. The Liberal, Nationals and ALP positions are unchanged from those that applied immediately prior to the July 2 double dissolution election. Senate parties with more than one senator have been included for the first time. [Read more…]


The New Senate: The Defeated, The Retired, The New And The Returning

There will be 14 new faces in the new Senate when it meets for the first time on August 30.

This represents 18.42% of the Senate’s 76 members. Each state has 12 senators, whilst the territories have 2 each, who serve terms concurrent with the House of Representatives. The double dissolution meant that all 76 positions were up for election on July 2.

The fourteen new senators include two (Louise Pratt and Don Farrell) who were Labor senators defeated in 2013.

Ten of the fourteen departed senators were defeated in the election, whilst four retired. [Read more…]


Getting Things Done In The New Senate

The Senate has 76 members. Unlike the House of Representatives, where the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie, all members vote on all matters. Therefore, the magic number to get anything done is 39.

A tied vote (38-38) is lost, so the government must have 39. Once it gets to 39 votes, everyone else has only 37.

On appearances, the new Senate is arithmetically more difficult for the Turnbull government than the one it had to deal with in the 44th Parliament. [Read more…]


South Australian Senate Results Finalised; Xenophon Soars As Liberals, ALP And Greens Lose Ground; Bob Day Re-Elected

The Senate results for South Australia were finalised and announced today.

The Liberals, ALP and Greens all lost one seat each, whilst the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) picked up three seats and Family First’s Bob Day was re-elected. It is now clear that whilst results in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have not yet been declared, there will be at least as many crossbench senators in the 45th Parliament as there were in the 44th.

The Nick Xenophon Team was the big winner, polling 21.74% of the primary vote and recasting the electoral landscape in South Australia. Nick Xenophon, who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, will be joined by Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore.

The Liberal Party polled 32.58% of the primary vote and elected 4 senators, with Sean Edwards missing out. Edwards served one term after winning a seat at the 2010 election. He was an outspoken critic of the Abbott government over its attitude to submarine building in South Australia.

The ALP polled 27.32% and elected 3 senators, with Anne McEwen missing out. McEwen was first elected in 2004 and served two full terms. She was well-regarded by progressive elements in the ALP and received tributes today from the Greens. McEwen was displaced by Don Farrell, who was first elected in 2007 but lost his seat in 2013.

The Greens polled 5.87% and returned Sarah Hanson-Young, who was first elected in 2007. Robert Simms missed out, after serving 9 months in the casual vacancy created by Penny Wright’s resignation in 2015.

Family First’s Bob Day, who was first elected in 2013, was returned in the 12th position off a primary vote of 2.87%. One Nation polled 2.98% but missed out. Ironically, Day unsuccessfully challenged the Senate voting reforms in the High Court in May, on the basis that votes would exhaust and micro parties would be unable to win seats. Moreover, Day has cause to be amused by the Liberal Party’s loss of Mayo to NXT, since Day’s defeat in the Liberal Party preselection in Mayo in 2008 led to his joining Family First. [Read more…]