Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove’s Speech Opening The 45th Parliament

The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, today officially opened the 45th Parliament, following the July double dissolution election.

Cosgrove

Ceremonies in the morning saw senators and members of the House of Representatives sworn in. The Senate President, Senator Stephen Parry, and the House Speaker, Tony Smith, were both re-elected unopposed.

At 3pm, the Governor-General summoned the House members to the Senate and delivered a 38-minute speech. By convention, the speech is written by the government and outlines its program for the new parliament.

It was Cosgrove’s first speech opening a new parliament. Last April, he delivered a short speech reconvening the 44th Parliament, following its prorogation. [Read more…]


Long Tan Commemoration: Cosgrove And Turnbull Pay Tribute On 50th Anniversary Of Vietnam Battle

The Governor-General and the Prime Minister have each spoken at the 50th anniversary commemoration service of Long Tan.

The service was held in Canberra this morning. It commemorated the 50th anniversary of the battle at Long Tan on August 18, 1966. Eighteen Australian soldiers from the 1st Australian Task Froce were killed and twenty-four wounded in the conflict. It is estimated that the Viet Cong lost at least 245 soldiers.

Cosgrove

The battle took place near a rubber plantation. There were 105 soldiers involved, including a contingent from New Zealand.

In his speech, the Governor-General, who served in Vietnam, drew attention to the treatment meted out to Vietnam veterans at the time and since. He lamented that even veterans organisations did not respond well to the service of Australian soldiers in the controversial war. [Read more…]


Writs Returned And The 2016 Federal Election Is Officially Over

With its announcement that all the election writs have been returned, the Australian Electoral Commission officially brought the 2016 Federal Election to an end today.

The AEC has returned the writs for all 150 seats in the House of Representatives and for Senate elections in the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Normally, the writs would be returned to the Governor-General, but Sir Peter Cosgrove is attending the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, so the writs have gone to the Governor of Queensland, Paul de Jersey, in his capacity as Administrator to the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Writs for the Senate elections in the six states have been returned to the State Governors.

The election writ is a legal document issued by the Governor-General. It commands the AEC to conduct the election. It sets out the various dates that apply during the election, such as the close of enrolments, nominations, polling day, and the return of the writ.

The process leading to the election began on May 8 when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull advised the Governor-General to dissolve the parliament in accordance with Section 57 of the Constitution. The dissolution documents are available here.

On May 9, the Governor-General’s proclamation dissolving the parliament was issued. The election writ was issued on May 16. It specified that the writ should be returned on or before August 8. [Read more…]


Governor-General Acts On Prime Minister Turnbull’s Advice; Caretaker Period Ends

Government House has released correspondence between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove which brings the election’s caretaker period to an end.

The documents show that Turnbull wrote to the Governor-General the day after the election to advise him the outcome was uncertain and that he would continue in a caretaker capacity until the results were clear. Cosgrove accepted this advice.

Yesterday, Turnbull again wrote to Cosgrove to advise him that the government was now in a position to command majority support in the House of Representatives, either in its own right or with the support of crossbenchers, and that the Opposition Leader had conceded defeat. Cosgrove accepted this advice.

The effect of this is to remove the restrictions on the government’s ability to make policy decisions, appointments and other significant political decisions. The period of caretaker government has ended.

Some commentators assert that there is a role for the Governor-General in determining who is commissioned to form a government. The letters show that these decisions continue to be made by the elected representatives and the Governor-General acts on the advice of his prime minister. Even in the event of a hung parliament, as the events of 2010 demonstrated, the Governor-General does not act unilaterally, but on the advice of his or her chief adviser. [Read more…]


Political Figures Feature In Queen’s Birthday Honours

Political, vice-regal and government figures feature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list released today.

The Governor of South Australia, Hieu Van Le, and the Governor of Western Australia, Kerry Sanderson, were each awarded the highest honour, the Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

ACs were also awarded to the retiring Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, and to the former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, Ian Watt.

In the Officer division, the AO award, four former MPs were honoured. Ric Charlesworth, the ALP member for Perth from 1983 until 1993, received the award for his service to sport and parliament. Judi Moylan, the Liberal member for Pearce (1993-2013) received the AO for services to parliament, women and advocacy for people with diabetes. Kay Patterson, a Liberal senator from 1987-2008 and former Howard government minister, received the award in recognition of her service to parliament and to public policy, particularly for women, and as a senior academic. Alan Stockdale, the Liberal member for Brighton (1985-99) was honoured for his service as Treasurer in the Victorian Kennett government (1992-99). [Read more…]


Government House Releases Double Dissolution Documents

Government House has released the documents related to today’s announcement of a double dissolution election on July 2.

The documents include the formal advice tendered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Cosgrove’s written assent to the advice.

A statement from the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has also been released. It sets out the legal position of the legislation twice rejected by the Senate and demonstrates how Section 57 of the Constitution has been satisfied.

The documents also show the hand-written annotations of the Governor-General. [Read more…]


Abbott Says 50 Australian Police Deployed For Operation Bring Them Home

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says around two hundred Australians have been deployed overseas as part of Operation Bring Them Home.

Abbott

Abbott said 50 Australian police have been pre-deployed to London, in anticipation that they can be sent to Ukraine to secure the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. [Read more…]