A spectacularly innovative** decision by a magistrate in a New South Wales Local Court has made voting at Federal Elections in Australia essentially voluntary.
Magistrate David Heilpern’s decision was in the prosecution of Adam Easton who had failed to vote at the 2016 Federal Election. It is apparently the first time s.245(14) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act has ever been considered by a Court – and Magistrate Heilpern found Easton’s alleged belief in freedom, and alleged belief that all politicians cannot be trusted (the factual or rational nature of this belief was unsubstantiated in evidence in the Court) meant he had a sort-of religious duty to not vote.
- The decision is here in full http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/5a39c28ae4b074a7c6e1b416;
- A report of the decision is here http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/20/man-wins-legal-battle-after-arguing-voting-in-2016-election-morally-corrupt; and
- The relevant section of the Act is here http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s245.html.
In making his ground-breaking decision the Magistrate specifically repudiated and rejected many precedents and findings of other Courts, including Australia’s High Court, amongst them this:
“…there is no force whatever in the contention that a valid and sufficient reason exists for non-compliance with the primary duty of voting, merely because no one of the ultimate candidates meets with the approval of the given elector. If that were admitted as a valid and sufficient reason, compulsory voting would be practically impossible”.
Isaacs J in Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 CLR 380 at 386
The section in question provides a religious exemption, Magistrate Heilpern explicitly finds Easton’s beliefs are not religious, yet says his refusal to vote is allowed via the religious exemption, thus:
“Having carefully considered the evidence of the defendant, I am satisfied that his evidence shows an honestly held belief, a moral code that requires him not to vote. To vote would be to breach a truly held conscientious life viewpoint. Thus the defendant in this case has a devout (but not religious) objection to voting. It would be simply nonsensical that were his deeply held moral objection subjectively connected to a recognised religion or a belief in god, that this would, of itself, be a valid and sufficient reason, but that a conscious agnostic well-developed moral faith as described by the defendant would not. The provision allows for a form of conscientious objection in my view, and that is what has been evidenced here.”
This decision will be applauded by the organised far right of Australian politics, who have long mounted a disingenuous demand for the freedom to not vote … which they expect will, incidentally and coincidentally of course, reduce the Labor vote. It will be opposed by everyone who recognises, inter alia:
- compulsory voting tends to build a relationship of mutual obligation between the governed and Parliaments, which is a positive contributor to social cohesion, and
- the ugliness and vapidity of US election campaigns is in part caused by the need to make voters angry enough to bother to vote in a voluntary system – and that’s where we will head if this decision is allowed to stand.
Will the decision be appealed, or will anti-compulsory-voting forces in the Liberal Party block both an appeal and amendments to the legislation before the next Federal Election?
* You can access the Courier Mail version here http://bit.ly/2BLBTg4
** possibly in this instance actually meaning “stupid”
|Deb Frecklington||Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Trade|
|Tim Mander||Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Treasurer|
|Andrew Powell||Shadow Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning|
|Fiona Simpson||Shadow Minister for Employment and Small Business Shadow Minister for Training and Skills Development|
|Ros Bates||Shadow Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Shadow Minister for Women|
|Jarrod Bleijie||Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Manager of Opposition Business|
|David Janetzki||Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Justice|
|Steve Minnikin||Shadow Minister for Transport and Main Roads|
|Dale Last||Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Shadow Minister for Northern Queensland|
|Trevor Watts||Shadow Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism, Shadow Minister for Corrective Services|
|David Crisafulli||Shadow Minister for Environment, Science and the Great Barrier Reef, Shadow Minister for Tourism|
|Tony Perrett||Shadow Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Forestry|
|Michael Hart||Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, Shadow Minister for Energy, Shadow Minister for Innovation and Digital Technology|
|Ann Leahy||Shadow Minister for Local Government|
|Dr Christian Rowan||Shadow Minister for Communities and Shadow Minister for Disability Services and Seniors, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Shadow Minister for the Arts|
|John-Paul Langbroek||Shadow Minister for Sport & Racing and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Shadow Minister for the Commonwealth Games|
|Stephen Bennett||Shadow Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Shadow Minister for Veterans|
|Lachlan Millar||Shadow Minister for Fire, Emergency Services and Volunteers|
|Shadow Assistant Ministers|
|Sam O’Connor||Shadow Assistant Minister to the Opposition Leader and Shadow Assistant Minister for Youth|
|Dan Purdie||Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury|
|David Batt||Shadow Assistant Minister for State Development|
|Simone Wilson||Shadow Assistant Minister for Education|
|Brent Mickelberg||Shadow Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development|
- Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce becomes Infrastructure and Transport Minister and his Agriculture portfolio goes to first-term Queensland Liberal National Party MP David Littleproud;
- George Brandis retires from Attorney General and will become Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK;
- Arthur Sinodinos has resigned from the Ministry as he battles cancer;
- Daren Chester has been dumped from the Ministry;
- Christian Porter will become Attorney General, losing Social Services to Dan Tehan;
- New Deputy Leader of the Nationals Bridget McKenzie becomes Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications;
- Queenslander Senator Matt Canavan returns to his Resources and Northern Australia portfolios;
- Queensland Member of Parliament John McVeigh picks up the Regional Development, Territories and Local Government portfolios;
- Michaelia Cash picks up Innovation, loses Women to Kelly’ODwyer, and sheds her industrial relations responsibilities to new Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation Craig Laundy;
- Michael Keenan loses the Justice portfolio but joins Cabinet as Minister for Human Services, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations.
The full list is:
- Prime Minister – Malcolm Turnbull
- Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister – Barnaby Joyce
- Treasurer – Scott Morrison
- Foreign Minister – Julie Bishop
- Attorney-General – Christian Porter
- Home Affairs Minister – Peter Dutton
- Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications Minister – Bridget McKenzie
- Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations – Michael Keenan
- Social Services Minister – Dan Tehan
- Agriculture and Water Minister – David Littleproud
- Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister – John McVeigh
- Indigenous Affairs Minister – Nigel Scullion
- Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister – Steve Ciobo
- Finance Minister and Special Minister of State – Mathias Cormann
- Revenue and Financial Services Minister and Minister for Women – Kelly O’Dwyer
- Defence Industry Minister – Christopher Pyne
- Defence Minister – Marise Payne
- Resources and Northern Australia Minister – Matt Canavan
- Energy and Environment Minister – Josh Frydenberg
- Health Minister – Greg Hunt
- Communications and Arts Minister – Mitch Fifield
- Jobs and Innovation Minister – Michaelia Cash
- Education and Training Minister – Simon Birmingham
- Minister for Urban Infrastructure – Paul Fletcher
- Minister for International Development and the Pacific – Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
- Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation – Craig Laundy
- Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security – Angus Taylor
- Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs – Alan Tudge
- Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel – Michael McCormack
- Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister – Ken Wyatt
- Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister – James McGrath
- Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister – Damian Drum
- Assistant Minister to the Treasurer – Michael Sukkar
- Assistant Minister for Finance – David Coleman
- Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment – Luke Hartsuyker
- Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs – Zed Seselja
- Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources – Anne Ruston
- Assistant Minister for Vocational Skills and Training – Karen Andrews
- Assistant Minister for Children and Families – David Gillespie
- Assistant Minister for Immigration – Alex Hawke
- Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services – Jane Prentice
- Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation – Zed Seselja
- Assistant Minister for Environment – Melissa Price
The re-elected Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced her full Ministry on Monday, 11 December 2017, after announcing key economic portfolios a day earlier (see here). Cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday 12 December.
You can download short biographies of Cabinet members here http://bit.ly/2jsOJMk.
Cabinet has been expanded to 18, and there are three new Ministers, to replace the retiring Bill Byrne and Curtis Pitt who is to become Speaker: the new faces are Di Farmer, Member for Bulimba, Craig Crawford, Member for Barron River, while Stirling Hinchliffe, Member for Sandgate, returns to Cabinet.
Of the Cabinet of 18, 9 are women. 9 are from the Left Faction, 6 are from the Labor Forum (often called “Right” or “AWU”) faction, and 3 are from the Labor Unity (“Old Guard”) faction.
- Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier, Minister for Trade*;
- Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
- Cameron Dick, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Minister for Manufacturing
- Kate Jones, Minister for Innovation, Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Minister for the Commonwealth Games
- Yvette D’Ath, Attorney General and Minister for Justice
- Steven Miles, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
- Grace Grace, Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
- Mark Bailey, Minister for Transport and Main Roads
- Anthony Lynham, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
- Mick de Brenni, Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology, Minister for Sport
- Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Employment and Small Buiness, Minister for Training and Skills Development
- Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science, Minister for the Arts
- Mark Ryan, Minister for Police and Minister for Corrective Services
- Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors
- Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
- Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs
- Di Farmer, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
- Craig Crawford, Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Premier also announced he appointment of five Assistant Ministers, each with both a policy portfolio and a regional focus:
- Jennifer Howard, Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs and Assistant Minister of State (Ipswich)
- Glenn Butcher, Assistant Minister for Treasury (Gladstone)
- Julieanne Gilbert, Assistant Minister for State Development (Mackay)
- Brittany Lauga, Assistant Minister for Education (Keppel)
- Meaghan Scanlon, Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development (Gold Coast)
* Corrected from original post
Re-elected Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has on Sunday 10 December 2017 announced part of her new Cabinet ahead of confirmation of the full team.
She has established a four-member economic team of senior Ministers.
The Premier will add Trade to her own responsibilities and she will chair the Cabinet Budget Review Committee, with senior Ministers to hold key economic roles.
- Deputy Premier Jackie Trad will be appointed Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
- Cameron Dick will be appointed Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and Minister for Manufacturing, with responsibility for Economic Development Queensland and Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
- Kate Jones will be appointed Minister for Innovation, Minister for Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games. Minister Jones will also have responsibility for International Education.
In her surprise media release she made extensive mention of Labor’s job-creation credentials and plans, including infrastructure.
The Premier has also announced she has expanded Cabinet to 18, and invited to join it:
- Member for Sandgate Stirling Hinchliffe
- Member for Barron River Craig Crawford and
- Member for Bulimba Di Farmer.
The Premier’s allocation of all portfolios will be publicly announced ahead of the swearing-in ceremony at Government House on Tuesday 12 December 2017, and Labor’s new Caucus of 48 will meet in Brisbane on Monday 11 December.
You can access the full release here: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/12/10/premier-announces-cabinet-economic-team-to-drive-job-growth-across-qld
You can download it from here: http://bit.ly/2jXqOVv
We need a State Government, we need a Premier, and we need Ministers – but no-one can be absolutely certain yet about who is to be a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly: there are at five or six seats still in doubt, and while Labor says they are confident of achieving a majority in their own right, they (and everyone else) are waiting for final results.
Of the seats where results are clear, no Party yet has a majority of the Parliament.
Postal votes – and possibly recounts – will determine the final outcome of in-doubt seats, and receipt of outstanding postal vote closes at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 5 December. It’s also possible postal votes may overturn current expectations of seat-by-seat results, and throw more seats into the too-close-to-call pile – postal votes are being counted day-by-day, and new tallies in undecided seats are being announced daily.
Once postal votes are all in and all counted, the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ – see http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au) will determine whether they need further recounting in any seat – they’ve been doing check counting all along, so a full recount will be reserved for the very closest seats. That might take a day or two, or ECQ may determine there is no need.
If there’s no recount needed, it’s only after Tuesday the various Parties with members in the Assembly (Australian Labor Party, Liberal National Party, Katter’s Australian Party, One Nation Party, and perhaps the Greens) will hold meetings to determine who controls the Parliament and the Government, and who takes on which roles.
If Labor has a majority, we can expect a meeting of the Labor caucus in the days immediately after 5 December – and immediately after the caucus meeting we could expect a returned Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce her new Cabinet.
If Labor doesn’t have a majority, depending on how far short they fall it may take several days for a majority coalition to be stitched together – or possibly a minority Government – so we may not know who is our Government, and who is Premier, and a Minister, until the week of 11 December.
The Brisbane Times website has a pretty good summary of where things are http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland-election-2017-results and they keep it reasonably up to date.
But, be cautious – there’s only 72.2% of the votes counted so far, and the notional two-candidate count in some seats has counted the wrong two candidates!
Ben Rau from the Tallyroom has an excellent summary of the current status of counting as at Sunday 26 November 2017, including seats likely won and lost for each of One Nation, the LNP, Katter Party and Greens. You can access his summary here http://www.tallyroom.com.au/32465.