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.

  • Watch the Senate proceedings (39m)
  • Listen to the Senate proceedings (39m)

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…]


Senate President Statement On Burqa Wearing

The Senate President, Stephen Parry, has made a statement explaining what happened when Senator Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into the chamber.

The incident took place on August 17. Parry explained that Hanson had not jeopardised security since she was already in a secure area of the parliament and called upon security guards to escort her to the chamber.

Parry called for a committee of the Senate to consider amendments to the Standing Orders to give the presiding officers more power to deal with such. situations

  • Watch Parry’s statement (6m)
  • Listen to Parry (6m)

Hansard transcript of statement by Senator Stephen Parry.

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Parliament House: Security

Parliament House: Dress Standards

The PRESIDENT (10:01): On Thursday, 17 August, I indicated that I would reflect on matters that arose during question time that day. These reflections were prompted by Senator Hanson’s decision to wear a burqa into the Senate chamber. Wearing this garment completely concealed her identity. [Read more…]


Pauline Hanson’s Senate Burqa Stunt; Labor And Greens Give Brandis A Standing Ovation

Pauline Hanson today staged an anti-burqa stunt during Question Time in the Senate.

The One Nation leader appeared in a burqa at 2.06pm. The Senate President, Senator Stephen Parry, said that her identity had been verified by parliamentary staff.

At 2.09pm, as online and social media began reporting on Hanson’s behaviour, Senator Derryn Hinch raised a point of order regarding dress requirements in the chamber.

At 2.25pm, Hanson rose to ask the Government Leader and Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, whether the government would legislate to ban the burqa. Brandis delivered a stinging rebuke to Hanson and received a standing ovation from ALP and Greens senators.

Hanson used a supplementary question to ask whether the government would ban the burqa in the houses of parliament. Senate President Parry took the question, pointing out that such decisions are the province of the presiding officers.

The ALP leader, Senator Penny Wong, said she would like to have moved a motion of congratulations for Senator Brandis,

After her question, Hanson left the chamber.

  • 2.06pm: Watch Senate President Stephen Parry make the first reference to Hanson’s appearance in a burqa (1m)
  • 2.09pm: Watch Senator Derryn Hinch’s point of order (1m)
  • 2.25pm: Watch Hanson’s question to Brandis (7m)

Hansard transcript of Senate Question Time proceedings.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Duniam, a supplementary question.

Senator DUNIAM (Tasmania) (14:06): What risks are there in a registered organisation donating money to the political campaigns of its own staff?

Senator Hanson having entered the chamber —

Senator DUNIAM: What on earth?

Honourable senators interjecting— [Read more…]


Scott Ludlam Resigns From The Senate; Victim Of Section 44 Dual Citizenship Rule

Scott Ludlam, an Australian Greens senator from Western Australia, resigned today, after announcing he had dual citizenship with New Zealand and was therefore in breach of Section 44(i) of the Constitution.

Ludlam

Section 44(i) of the Constitution says that a person is “incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator” if they are “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject of a citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.

In a statement, Ludlam said he was born in New Zealand. His family left when he was three years old and settled in Australia when he was nine. “I was naturalised when I was in my mid-teens and assumed that was the end of the New Zealand citizenship.”

Media reports today say that the citizenship question has been previously raised with Ludlam.

Ludlam, 47, was first elected to the Senate in 2007. He took up his seat on July 1, 2008. He was re-elected in 2013 and in the 2014 re-run election. He was re-elected to a six-year term in the 2016 double dissolution election. The Greens polled 10.53% in WA.

Ludlam has been Joint Deputy Leader of the Greens, with Larissa Waters, since May 2015.

It now appears that the Senate will refer the matter to the High Court. Twice this year, the court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, has ordered countbacks following rulings that Rodney Culleton and Bob Day were not entitled to nominate at the election. Assuming this takes place again, the seat will go to the number three candidate on the Greens WA Senate ticket, 22-year-old disability advocate Jordon Steele-John.

Media reports today quote Steele-John as not committing himself to taking the seat. Were he to resign, a casual vacancy would be created and the Greens would nominate a replacement. It would be possible for Ludlam to be appointed in these circumstances, provided he rectifies the citizenship issue. However, Ludlam’s statement and press conference suggested he has chosen to move on to other things.

The practical political implication of today’s resignation by Ludlam is that the Greens will be without one of their number for some months in the Senate. This will not make a significant difference but until the vacancy is filled the Turnbull government will only need eight of the eleven crossbench votes to secure passage of legislation opposed by the ALP and Greens. It currently needs nine extra votes. A pairing arrangement to cover the absence could also be put in place.

Ludlam is the third senator to fall victim to Section 44 since the 2016 election, an unprecedented situation.

  • Watch Ludlam’s media conference in Perth (15m)
  • Listen to the media conference (15m)

Statement from Senator Scott Ludlam. Click to enlarge

Ludlam


Sen. Lucy Gichuhi (SA-Ind) – Maiden Speech

This is Senator Lucy Gichuhi’s first speech to the Senate.

Gichuhi

Gichuhi, 54, was declared elected as a South Australian senator on April 19, 2017. She replaced Senator Bob Day, who resigned in 2016 but whose election was also declared invalid under Section 44 of the Constitution. Gichuhi had been the number two candidate on the Family First ticket at the 2017 election. She was elected following a court-ordered countback of votes. She has chosen to sit as an independent.

  • Listen to Gichuhi’s speech (37m)
  • Watch Gichuhi (42m)

Hansard transcript of Senator Lucy Gichuhi’s maiden speech.

The PRESIDENT (17:15): Pursuant to order, I now call Senator Gichuhi to make her first speech and ask that honourable senators extend the usual courtesies for a first speech. Senator, can I apologise for the delay in commencement, but at least we have everyone in the chamber for you.

Senator GICHUHI (South Australia) (17:16): Today, I, Lucy Muringo Gichuhi, happily stand before you as the first black African-born senator in the history of Australia. I am deeply honoured to be given the privilege of serving the people of Australia as a senator. To all Australians, I say thank you. It is with this sentiment that I honour those who came before me, faithfully leading Australia to build the outstanding nation we see today. [Read more…]


Women In The 45th Australian Parliament

Women make up one-third of the 45th Parliament of Australia.

There are now 75 women in both houses, representing 33.18% of the combined total of 226 members. It was 30.97% at the end of the 44th Parliament.

There are 43 women (28.66%) in the 150-member House of Representatives, and 32 (42.10%) in the 76-member Senate.

With 43 members in both chambers, the ALP has the largest number of women (45.26%) in the parliament. The Liberal Party and Nationals combined have 21 members (20%).

The Greens (10 members in both houses) and the Nick Xenophon Team (4 members in both houses) each have 50-50 male-female representation.

At the 2016 double dissolution election, 30 women were elected to the Senate. Following the resignation of the ALP’s Stephen Conroy, the Victorian casual vacancy was filled by Kimberley Kitching. Following the resignation of Family First’s Bob Day, the South Australian casual vacancy was filled by Lucy Gichuhi, who sits as an independent. [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…]