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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…]


Australian Parliament Dissolved; Governor-General’s Official Secretary Reads Proclamation

9.00am – The Australian Parliament has been dissolved.

The dissolution is a constitutional process that allows the writs for the July 2 double dissolution election to be issued. The dissolution is undertaken by the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister. The election writs command the Australian Electoral Commission to conduct the election and set out the various dates involved in the election process.

A brief ceremony was held in Parliament House during which the Governor-General’s Official Secretary, Mark Fraser, read the Proclamation dissolving both houses of parliament. Fraser was accompanied by the Clerk of the Senate, Rosemary Laing, and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, David Elder. [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…]


Malcolm Turnbull Formally Announces July 2 Double Dissolution Election

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has formally announced a double dissolution election for July 2.

Turnbull

Turnbull made the announcement in Parliament House at 2.30pm, following his visit to the Governor-General at 1.00pm to formally advise the election.

The election will be Australia’s seventh double dissolution election. The last was in 1987, also the only other time an election has been held in July. All of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 76 Senate positions will be up for election.

In his announcement, Turnbull emphasised his government’s policies on science, technology and innovation, as well as policies designed to stimulate employment. He said the election offered a choice, “to stay the course” for jobs and growth, or go back to Labor and “stop the transition to the new economy economy dead in its tracks”. [Read more…]


Parliament Prorogued; New Session Starts On Monday

The Australian Parliament was prorogued at 5pm today.

The prorogation was authorised by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on March 21, on the advice of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The prorogation takes place under Section 5 of the Constitution. The prorogation documents are shown below.

A new session of Parliament will now start on Monday, April 18, at 9.30am. It will be opened by the Governor-General.

The prorogation means that the Notice Paper in each house has been wiped clean. All business listed on the Notice Paper has been terminated, although the Senate’s Standing Orders allow for the work of committees to continue.

The Parliament has been prorogued one minute before dissolution at each election since 1993, a practice that had not been followed since the 1920s. The last prorogation for a reason other than an election was in 1977, when it was used to enable the Queen to open Parliament.

The Turnbull government has released a programme of business for the Senate to consider from Monday. It includes the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No.2], the Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No.2] and the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 [No.3]. The draft programme is shown below. [Read more…]