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Reserve Bank Cuts Cash Rate By 0.25% In First Movement For Three Years

The Reserve Bank of Australia has lowered the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 per cent, the first change in interest rates in thirty-four months.

In its decision, the Board of the Reserve Bank said the decision was taken “to support employment growth and provide greater confidence that inflation will be consistent with the medium-term target”.

The Board referred to the growth in “trade disputes” and said that growth in international trade remains weak.

Monetary Policy Decision – Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 per cent. The Board took this decision to support employment growth and provide greater confidence that inflation will be consistent with the medium-term target. [Read more…]


Scott Morrison Announces Third Term Coalition Ministry

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his new ministry, following the coalition’s re-election on May 18.

Morrison

The major positions in the government are unchanged, with Josh Frydenberg remaining Treasurer and Mathias Cormann holding Finance. Marise Payne stays as Foreign Minister, whilst Linda Reynolds retains Defence. Peter Dutton remains Minister for Home Affairs, Greg Hunt stays in Health, Simon Birmingham in Trade and Dan Tehan in Education.

Melissa Price has been dropped from the Cabinet after a poor performance in Environment. She will now be Minister for Defence Industry. Sussan Ley returns to the Cabinet in the Environment portfolio.

Senator Arthur Sinodinos has been appointed Ambassador to the United States. He will take up the position when Joe Hockey’s term expires early next year. Sinodinos’ departure from the Senate may allow the Liberal Party to re-appoint Senator Jim Molan, who lost his seat at the election.

Senator Mitch Fifield will leave the Communications portfolio and will be replaced by Paul Fletcher. Fifield will also leave the Senate to take up the post of Ambassador to the United Nations. His Senate casual vacancy could go to Sarah Henderson, who lost her seat of Corangamite at the election. [Read more…]


Julia Banks (Lib-Chisholm) Turns Independent

The member for the Victorian electorate of Chisholm, Julia Banks, has announced that she is resigning from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent in the House of Representatives, plunging the Morrison government further into minority status.

Banks had previously announced that she would not contest Chisholm again as a Liberal. She has suggested she might run in Chisholm, or elsewhere, as an independent.

Banks won Chisholm at the 2016 federal election. It was the only seat the Liberal Party captured from the Labor Party. The ALP’s Anna Burke had held the seat since 1998.

A redistribution means the redrawn Chisholm will be based around the suburbs of Box Hill, Blackburn, Mount Waverley and Glen Waverley. It has a notional Liberal majority of 3.4%. Last Saturday’s Victorian state election saw the seats of Box Hill and Mount Waverley lost by the Liberal Party to the ALP with swings of 7.5% and 6.0% respectively. The Blackburn-based electorate of Forest Hill, whilst retained by the Liberal Party, registered a 3.0% swing to the ALP.

Bank’s announcement in the House came at the beginning of the day’s proceedings. It coincided with a press conference by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The coalition government now holds just 74 of the 150 seats in the House, having already lost former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth to Dr Kerryn Phelps, also an independent. There are now seven crossbenchers in the House. The ALP has 69 seats.

  • Listen to Banks’ statement (5m)
  • Watch Bank’s statement (5m)

Hansard transcript of statement by Julia Banks, former Liberal member for Chisholm.

Ms BANKS (Chisholm) (12:01): Mr Speaker, on indulgence, may I make a personal statement?

The SPEAKER: Yes, the member for Chisholm may proceed.

Ms BANKS: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Following the leadership coup in August, I announced my decision that I will not recontest the seat of Chisholm at the next election as a member of the Liberal Party. I’ve always put the people before the party. After being a Labor held seat for 18 years, the people of Chisholm elected me as I promised them that I would be their representative under the leadership of the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former deputy leader and foreign minister Julie Bishop—both visionary, inspiring leaders of sensible, centrist, liberal values with integrity and intellect, and with significant support from my local community, and across Australia, as leaders of our nation. [Read more…]


Until The Bell Rings – Speech By Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made his first major speech to a gathering of Liberals in Albury, the birthplace of the modern Liberal Party.

Morrison

Morrison spoke at a function organised by the Menzies Institute. He was introduced by newly-reinstated parliamentary secretary, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Sussan Ley.

Billed as a “headland” speech, Morrison delivered the speech without notes. He outlined no new policies. The speech touched briefly upon Liberal ideas such as community, home ownership and freedom.

  • Listen to Morrison’s speech (29m)

Official transcript of Scott Morrison’s speech in Albury.

Thank you very much Sussan for the very warm welcome to Jenny and I, and to my senior colleagues here particularly my Deputy Leader here, Josh Frydenberg and I, the ‘ScoJo’ team, as we’ve been dubbed amongst other things. I don’t know if that one will stick Josh, but let’s see how we go. Can I also acknowledge the Indigenous people and the land on which we stand and where we meet today, and acknowledge elders past and present and pay my respects to them, our first Australians.

I like rituals. I’m a keen fan of rituals. I try and create rituals in my family, Jen and I, we have a number of rituals with our kids. We had them when I was growing up as a kid. They’re important because they help you connect and remind you about the things that matter most. They connect you to your past, and they help you connect your past to your future. Just as Indigenous peoples have been doing for centuries, thousands of years. I like rituals. [Read more…]


Which Former Prime Minister Made The Quickest Departure From Parliament?

On September 1, The Weekend Australian published this list of prime ministers ordered by the time they remained in parliament after leaving the prime ministership.

Unfortunately, the newspaper has made a number of mistakes in the table.

The Australian

 

The most important error in ordering this list is the misunderstanding about the correct dates for the terms of members of parliament. A member’s term begins on their date of election. A member’s term ends on the day they resign or die. The term of a retiring member, or one who has lost pre-selection, ends when the parliament is dissolved ahead of an election. Only members re-elected at general elections are deemed to have continuous service. Election day is the final day for members who recontest and are defeated.

The lesson here, which I also learned the hard way, is not to rely on Wikipedia when checking dates. It is mostly correct for Australian MPs but there are crucial errors. The most reliable source is the current 45th edition of the Parliamentary Handbook.

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1. Andrew Fisher Should Be First

Andrew Fisher resigned from parliament on October 26, 1915. He resigned his third, and final, term as prime minister the following day, October 27. He is the only prime minister to have resigned his seat before resigning the prime ministership, and should be listed first on the table.

Note: Under Section 64 of the Constitution, an individual can spend three months as a minister before they need to become a member of parliament. Fisher’s position on October 27, 1915, was completely constitutional.

Fisher left to become Australia’s second High Commissioner to London, succeeding former PM George Reid. The table says Fisher departed parliament on December 11, but this was the date of the by-election for his Queensland seat of Wide Bay. Fisher’s three listings on the table should each be reduced by 46 days.

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2. Edmund Barton Beat Malcolm Turnbull

The table places Turnbull in first position, since he resigned from parliament seven days after losing the prime ministership.

Australia’s first prime minister, Edmund Barton, is listed in eighth position, having resigned from parliament on December 16, 1903, ninety-three days after he left the prime ministership. However, December 16 was the date of the general election that year, not the day Barton resigned. Barton had stood down from the prime ministership on September 24. He resigned his NSW seat of Hunter six days later, on September 30. Barton, therefore, should be listed second on the table, ahead of Turnbull.

Barton’s resignation was necessitated by his appointment as one of the three inaugural justices of the High Court. He was sworn in on October 5, 1903. Richard O’Connor resigned from the Senate on September 27 and was also appointed to the High Court on October 5. The Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith, also took office on October 5, having resigned as Chief Justice of Queensland the day before.

*

3. Fraser Moved Fast

Malcolm Fraser resigned from parliament on March 31, 1983, having lost the March 5 election. The table lists his departure as May 7, but this was the date of the by-election to fill his seat of Wannon.

Fraser left parliament twenty days after relinquishing the prime ministership on March 11. Accordingly, he belongs in fourth place on the table, behind Barton and Turnbull.

Thanks to @theredandblue for alerting me to this one, which led me to examine all the dates.

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4. Sir Robert Menzies Had A Second Term And Departed Quite Quickly

The table shows Menzies’ first term – notating it as (1) – and points out that he remained in parliament for another 8,938 days.

However, the table omits his long second term of 16 years, 1 month, 7 days. Menzies relinquished the prime ministership on January 26, 1966 and resigned his Victorian seat of Kooyong on February 17, twenty-two days later.

Menzies, therefore, should be listed in fifth position on the table, after Fraser.

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5. George Reid Was Already In London

George Reid resigned from parliament on December 24, 1909. This was to enable him to become Australia’s first High Commissioner to London on January 22, 1910. The table says he left parliament on April 13, 1910, but this was the date of the general election. Reid’s 1,773 days should be reduced by 110 days, moving him up one place on the list, ahead of Gorton.

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6. What Have They Done With Bruce?

Stanley Melbourne Bruce poses a singular problem for placement on this list. Having lost the 1929 election and his Victorian seat of Flinders, Bruce was returned as the member for Flinders at the 1931 election. Given that he did not serve a second term as prime minister, should he even be on the list? Like John Howard, who lost the 2007 election and his seat of Bennelong, the decision about when to leave was made for him.

Bruce retired from his second term in parliament on October 6, 1933. The table says he left parliament on November 11, 1933, but this was the date of the Flinders by-election. The 693 days shown on the table is the [incorrect] totality of his second term as a member of parliament. His prime ministership ended two years previously. It really makes no sense at all.

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7. Deakin Should Be Moved Up

Alfred Deakin retired from parliament on April 23, 1913. In three places, the table lists his departure as May 31, 1913, but this was the date of the general election. Deakin should have 38 days deducted from each of his entries on the table. His first term should be moved up one place to just ahead of McMahon.

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8. Five Dating Errors That Don’t Affect Anyone’s Position

James Scullin retired from parliament on October 31, 1949. The table lists his departure as December 10 but this was the election date and a retiring member ceases to be a member when the parliament is dissolved. Scullin left parliament forty days before the general election of December 10, 1949, so forty days should be shaved off the table’s 6,548 days.

Arthur Fadden retired from parliament on October 14, 1958, the day the parliament was dissolved ahead of the November 22 election. The table lists his departure as March 26, 1958, but this was the date he relinquished the leadership of the Country Party. His 6014 days should have another 202 added. Fadden continued as Treasurer until December 10, 1958, as permitted under Section 64 of the Constitution.

Joseph Cook retired from parliament on November 11, 1921. The table says it was December 10, but this was the date of the Parramatta by-election. Cook’s 2,641 days should be reduced by 29.

Chris Watson ceased to be a member of parliament when the Third Parliament expired on February 19, 1910. It is the only parliament to have expired by effluxion of time. The table says Watson served until April 13, 1910, but this was the date of the general election. Watson’s 2,064 days should be reduced by 53 days.

John McEwen retired from parliament on February 1, 1971. The table says it was March 20, 1971, but this was the date of the Murray by-election. McEwen’s 1,165 days should be reduced by 47 days.

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My Revised List

The list shows prime ministers as I have reordered them. The number in brackets shows the days each PM remained in parliament after ceasing to be PM.

  1. Andrew Fisher (third term – 0)
  2. Edmund Barton (6)
  3. Malcolm Turnbull (7)
  4. Malcolm Fraser (20)
  5. Robert Menzies (second term – 22)
  6. Julia Gillard (39)
  7. Paul Keating (43)
  8. Bob Hawke (62)
  9. Kevin Rudd (second term – 65)
  10. Frank Forde (443)
  11. Ben Chifley (551)
  12. Stanley Bruce (657 ??)
  13. Andrew Fisher (second term – 854)
  14. Gough Whitlam (992)
  15. Tony Abbott (1082)
  16. Alfred Deakin (third term – 1090)
  17. John McEwen (1118)
  18. Kevin Rudd (first term – 1247)
  19. Alfred Deakin (second term – 1662)
  20. George Reid (1663)
  21. John Gorton (1707)
  22. Chris Watson (2011)
  23. Joseph Cook (2612)
  24. Alfred Deakin (first term – 3283)
  25. William McMahon (3317)
  26. Arthur Fadden (6216)
  27. James Scullin (6508)
  28. Earle Page (8263)
  29. Robert Menzies (first term – 8938)
  30. Billy Hughes (10,854)

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A Quibble on Methodology

There is undoubtedly an internal logic to the table’s listing of prime ministers by their separate terms. They are clearly noted.

However, the contest between Fisher and Deakin was between two men in the prime of their political lives. The combat that led to their six separate terms is instructive of the emerging two-party system post-Federation. Neither man was going to leave parliament after his short first term. For each, their second term was their most significant, and their third was a coda to their main body of work. Which to list?

Similarly, in 1941 Menzies was young enough – 46 – to believe he could return to the prime minister’s office at a future date. Retirement wasn’t under consideration. Placing him second behind the aged Hughes as a prime minister who hung around for a quarter of a century after losing office presents a somewhat misleading picture.

Likewise with Rudd. He was just 52 when he was deposed in June 2010. He correctly believed he could in time return to the leadership of his party. Even when he finally left in 2013, he was only 56.

And is there any point in even listing Page, Forde and McEwen, let alone describing them as “defeated” PMs? All three were stop-gap leaders who temporarily filled the position following the death of their predecessor. As deputy leader of the ALP, Forde faced the possibility of becoming leader after Curtin died but he was defeated by Chifley. The two Country Party leaders had no realistic prospect of becoming prime minister, even though attempts were apparently made to conscript McEwen.

As always, tables, lists and dates need to be accompanied by some contextual and historical knowledge, and even psychological insight. It’s not that difficult to get the numbers right, but they never tell you everything.


The First Morrison Ministry – Statistical Analysis

This page provides statistical data on the first Morrison Ministry, as announced on August 26, 2018, by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

The 42-member executive includes 23 Cabinet ministers, 7 members of the Outer Ministry, and 12 Assistant Ministers/Parliamentary Secretaries. These numbers have not changed from the final Turnbull ministry. The Liberal Party has 33 members (79%) of the executive, whilst the Nationals have 9 members (21%).

There is movement in state representation. Whereas NSW had 13 members under Turnbull, it will now have 9, whilst Victoria has 10.

Many members of the Turnbull ministry retain their positions under Morrison. Just one cabinet minister, Michael Keenan, has been demoted from cabinet to the outer ministry.

Following the retirement of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Morrison has promoted two women straight into Cabinet from parliamentary secretary positions. Melissa Price takes the Environment portfolio, which has been split from Energy, whilst Karen Andrews becomes Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. The total number of women in the ministry has increased from ten to eleven and the Cabinet from five to six. Women comprise 26% of the executive, up from 24%.

Angus Taylor is also promoted from the outer ministry to take up the Cabinet post of Energy. Paul Fletcher moves into Cabinet as the Minister for Families and Social Services.

The Foreign Minister will be Senator Marise Payne, who moves from Defence. Christopher Pyne moves up to Defence, whilst retaining his post as Leader of the House. [Read more…]


Speaker Sets July 28 As Date For Five By-Elections; Opposition Outraged

The Speaker, Tony Smith, advised the House of Representatives this afternoon that he had set July 28 as the date for the five by-elections caused by recent resignations relating to dual citizenship.

Smith

Smith told the House that because of new regulations to refine the nomination process and because of imminent schools holidays, July 28 was the “optimal” date for the by-elections in Longman, Braddon, Mayo, Fremantle and Perth.

The ALP opposition accused the Speaker of inordinate delay and said the by-elections coincided with the ALP National Conference in Adelaide.

  • Listen to Speaker’s statement to the House (21m)
  • Watch the House proceedings (21m)

Hansard transcript of House of Representatives proceedings relating to the calling of five by-elections on July 28.

The SPEAKER (15:12): If members could cease interjecting, could I please have the attention of the House on this important matter: I’d like to read a fairly lengthy statement, and then I’ll be tabling some documents. Earlier in the week, I advised the House I would provide an update on possible dates for by-elections in the seats of Braddon, Fremantle, Longman, Mayo and Perth. This update follows further consultation with the Australian Electoral Commissioner and party leaders. Under the Constitution, it is my responsibility alone to issue a writ for a by-election when a vacancy occurs, and generally it has not been the practice to provide an explanation for the exercise of this responsibility. I have varied from the usual practice because of the quite unusual—quite unique—circumstances surrounding these by-elections. [Read more…]