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George Williams On Dual Citizenship And Same Sex Marriage Survey

Professor George Williams, Dean of Law at the University of New South Wales, has addressed the National Press Club on the dual citizenship issue and the same sex marriage postal survey.

Williams suggested that the Turnbull government is “running against the grain of existing High Court authority” in relation to the marriage survey and the seven dual citizenship cases currently before the court.

In his address, Williams called for a range of constitutional reforms.

Williams, 48, has been Dean of Law since 2016. He was admitted to practice in 1993 and served as an associate to Justice Michael McHugh in the High Court. He has worked as a solicitor and barrister and has extensive academic experience at a number of universities.

A member of the ALP, Williams has unsuccessfully contested preselection on two occasions.

  • Watch Williams’ Address in full (59m)
  • Listen to Williams’ speech (33m)
  • Listen to the Question and Answer session (25m)

Transcript of Address to the National Press Club by Professor George Williams.

The Constitution is not normally front-page news in Australia. Despite the profound impact it has on our politics and society, it is easy to see why.

The United States Constitution reflects its revolutionary origins in beginning with the famous call “We the people.” By contrast, our Constitution is contained in a British Act of Parliament that opens with:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania…

“Whereas” is hardly the sort of beginning that gets the heart racing. In addition, these words are not even complete. They fail to mention Western Australia, which joined the Federation just before the commencement of the Constitution in 1901. [Read more…]


Sussan Ley Resigns From Ministry; Turnbull Announces Reforms To Politicians’ Entitlements

The Health Minister, Sussan Ley, has resigned from the Turnbull ministry.

Ley announced her resignation after a week of adverse political reaction to publicity about her travel expenses and visits to the Gold Coast. On one visit, Ley purchased an investment property.

Investigations by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Finance are still underway but it is reported that the prime minister believed Ley’s position had become untenable. He announced her resignation at a press conference called to announce reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

Ley released the text of her resignation letter to Turnbull (see below). She maintained that she had done nothing wrong and was not in breach of the ministerial code of conduct. She said she was resigning because the “ongoing media coverage of politicians’ entitlements has been a diversion from the important agenda we all wish to advance at the start of this vital year for our nation and our region”.

Turnbull announced that the government would establish an independent expenses authority to monitor and adjudicate all claims by politicians. He said the government would continue to implement all the recommendations of the Conde and Tune review of the parliamentary entitlements system.

Sussan Ley’s resignation letter.

Ley

Transcript of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s press conference announcing reforms to MPs’ entitlements.

TURNBULL: Good afternoon.

Today I have received notice from the Honourable Sussan Ley, of her intention to resign as the Minister Health, Ageing and Sport. I want to thank her for her service to the Government as a Minister and as a member of the Executive over many years.

I will make a further announcement about ministerial arrangements next week. In the meantime, the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Sinodinos, will continue to act as Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport. [Read more…]


High Court Unanimously Dismisses Challenge To Senate Voting Changes

The High Court has unanimously dismissed a challenge to the recently legislated Senate voting changes.

The seven Justices dismissed two applications, including one by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day.

The changes abolished group voting tickets and introduced optional preferential voting above and below the line.

The court held that the term “method” in Section 9 of the Constitution “is to be considered broadly, allowing for more than one way of indicating choice within a single uniform electoral system”. [Read more…]


Queensland Fixed Four-Year Terms Referendum: YES and NO Cases

This page contains the official YES and NO cases for Queensland’s referendum on fixed four-year terms of Parliament.

The referendum will be held on March 19, 2016. It proposes to introduce fixed four-year terms from after the next election, with elections to be held on the last Sunday in October.

The proposal has the bipartisan support of the ALP and the Liberal National Party in Queensland. The proposal has been introduced by the Queensland Premier, Anna Palaszczuk. [Read more…]


Barry Jones: Whitlam’s Vision Of Social Democracy – Parliament And Party

This is a paper presented by Barry Jones at a symposium conducted by the Whitlam Institute.

The symposium was titled: Gough Whitlam and the Social Democratic Imagination: the challenge for contemporary public policy.

Barry Jones was a Victorian state member of parliament (MLA Melbourne 1972-77) and then the federal member for Lalor (1977-98). He was Minister for Science and Technology in the Hawke government between 1983 and 1990.

Jones’ paper is notable for its pessimism about the capacity of the ALP to tackle contemporary public policy issues. He says that Gough Whitlam, Don Dunstan, Lionel Murphy and Jim Cairns were “the figures that changed the face of the ALP” in the 1960s and 1970s. He instances powerful figures of the Bob Hawke era, such as Bill Hayden, Mick Young and Kim Beazley, as well as Clyde Cameron. In this decade, however, Jones doubts that we could “identify nine current Labor politicians with equivalent intellectual power and persistence. [Read more…]


Changes To Senate Voting Methods Recommended; Liberals, ALP And Greens Agree To Stamp Out Preference Gaming

An interim report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has recommended the abolition of group voting tickets in the Senate in a move, supported by Liberal, Labor and Greens members, that will cripple micro-parties and prevent them from “gaming” the electoral system.

The Committee’s chairman, Tony Smith, the Liberal member for Casey, and his deputy, Alan Griffin, the ALP member for Bruce, presented the report today and held a media conference to discuss its recommendations. The Committee includes members from all parties and both houses. Its report was unanimous.

Ballot [Read more…]


Queensland Government Electoral Reform Discussion Paper

The Queensland government has released a discussion paper on electoral reform.

Media attention has focussed on the issue of compulsory voting. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have attacked the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, over compulsory voting.

In fact, it is more likely that the government is keen to make changes to the political donations and public funding rules. [Read more…]


Greens Sign Agreement To Support Gillard

The Australian Greens have agreed to support Julia Gillard and the ALP in the hung parliament.

Gillard-Brown

 

The Greens today signed an agreement with Julia Gillard. They have have committed to voting with the ALP government to ensure supply and to oppose any motion of no confidence in the government from any non-Greens member. [Read more…]


Ron Walker Backs 4-Year Parliamentary Terms; Howard Urges Caution

The Liberal Party’s Federal Treasurer, Ron Walker has advocated 4-year terms parliamentary terms.

Walker argued that cost and improved efficiency of government were the benefits of 4-year terms.

Prime Minister John Howard cautioned that just because something has bipartisan support it doesn’t follow that the public will support it.

A referendum would be needed to extend the existing three-year terms of the federal parliament to four. An amendment to Section 28 of the Constitution would be required. [Read more…]


Carmen Lawrence: Renewing Democracy – Can Women Make a Difference?

The former Western Australian Premier and Federal Health Minister, Dr. Carmen Lawrence, has called for wide-ranging political reforms in a speech to the Sydney Institute.

LawrenceLawrence, the Labor member for Fremantle, calls for a number of parliamentary reforms, including the establishment of an all-party Business committee to determine the business of the parliament. She proposes giving parliamentary committees the power to initiate legislation, especially if their recommendations have been ignored by the government.

The speech also refers to the increasing influence of money in Australian politics. She says: “We run the risk of becoming a “corporate democracy” in which the number of shares you have purchased in the party of your choice determines your effective voting power. While there has been extensive debate about big money in politics in the U.S., there appears to be a conspiracy of silence on the issues among Australian politicians. Public funding of elections was supposed to reduce the parties’ reliance on private corporate and union donations: all that has happened is a blowout in both public (doubled since 1993) and private funding as parties engage in an increasingly expensive bidding war at elections.” [Read more…]