House of Representatives Debates Gay Marriage Resolution

An impressive debate began in the House of Representatives tonight on a motion by the Greens member, Adam Bandt, calling on parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Bandt’s motion reads:

That this House:

(1) notes there is:

(a) a growing list of countries that allow same-sex couples to marry including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, SPain, Canada and South Africa; and

(b) widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community; and

(2) calls on all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Speaking to the motion, Bandt said, “there have been many attempts through history to limit love and all have failed”. The text of his speech is at the end of this page. [Read more…]

Kelvin Thomson Resigns From Shadow Ministry Over Mokbel Reference

The ALP’s Shadow Attorney-General, Kelvin Thomson, has resigned after admitting he wrote a reference in 2000 for the fugitive crime figure, Tony Mokbel.

Kelvin Thomson, ALP Member for WillsAt a press conference today, the Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, said: “On Tuesday my office received anonymous information that the Member for Wills and Shadow Attorney–General, Mr Kelvin Thomson, had provided a letter of support of some sort to Tony Mokbel. On Wednesday after my office spoke with Mr Thomson, I was briefed that the matter concerned a letter of support for a Victorian liquor licence application in 2000 for Mr Mokbel. Mr Thomson has since stated that a request was made for a letter of support for Mr Mokbel from Mr Thomson, as Mokbel’s local Member of Parliament in 2000 in support of a liquor licence application. Mr Thomson subsequently provided that letter of support.” [Read more…]

Howard Rushes Amendment To Counter Terrorism Legislation

Indefinite Article Wins The Day

‘The’ becomes ‘a’ in an urgent amendment the Federal Government is rushing through Parliament today. The rush to substitute the indefinite article for the definite article has been justified by claims of a ‘potential terrorist threat.’

Addressing a press conference late this morning, the Prime Minister, John Howard said: “The reason for this amendment is that the Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat.”

Howard said: “All the detail of this information has been provided by me and the Attorney General to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security. The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this amendment would strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat. We are acting of course, against the background of the assessment of intelligence agencies reported in the annual ASIO report.”

The Labor Opposition has announced that it will support the amendment. [Read more…]

Howard In Davos For WEF; Comments on Habib, Beazley

The Prime Minister, John Howard, is in Davos, Switzerland, for the latest meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Speaking to journalists, Howard criticised European wheat subsidies, but was otherwise non-committal on Mamdouh Habib and the ALP leadership.

According to its website, the World Economic Forum is “an independent international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation”. Its members “represent the world’s 1,000 leading companies, along with 200 smaller businesses, many from the developing world, that play a potent role in their industry or region”. [Read more…]