Monthly Archives: July 2017
Australia is supposed to have seventy-six Senators: right now we have no more than seventy-four, possibly only seventy-two, and possibly far fewer; and when Parliament resumes on 8 August, expect political and legal fireworks because of it – read more here https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/170808-opportunity-for-what/
Apologies for this entirely odd post – not at all sure how it got here when it was supposed to be somewhere else entirely.
Australia is supposed to have seventy-six Senators: right now we have no more than seventy-four, possibly only seventy-two, and possibly far fewer, because of application of s44 of the Australian Constitution. And when Parliament resumes on 8 August, expect political and legal fireworks.
This reduced number of Senators is important, because it might make it easier for the Government to get their legislation passed.
Here’s why: while Australia’s Liberal National Party Coalition government has the support of a majority in the House of Representatives, no legislation can pass without the support of a majority in the Senate, where the Government is in a minority. This means all legislation which passes through the Senate, and subsequently becomes law, must garner support from non-government parties, and with fewer Senators the total number of Senators required to support legislation reduces.
If we indeed have 74 Senators,
- 29 are from the Coalition,
- 26 are from Labor,
- 7 from the Greens,
- 4 are from One Nation,
- 3 from the Xenophon Team, and
- one each are from the Liberal Democrats (Leynholm), Justice Party (Hinch), Australian Conservatives (Bernardi), Jacqui Lambie Network, and independent Gichuhi (who is ex-Family First).
With only seventy-four Senate votes in play, to secure Senate passage of government legislation, the Liberal National Party Government needs nine votes from amongst the 19 cross-benchers; Labor needs 12 to block the passage of any legislation, or pass their own resolutions.
The Government now needs the support of one less non-Government Senator than before, to see legislation passed, and this situation will continue for months as the process of replacing ineligible Senators isn’t quick – see https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/ludlam-senate/. This presents the Government with opportunities to advance unpopular legislation through the Senate – the two ineligible “Senators” are seen as more likely to have opposed components of the Government’s legislative program.
We are down to no more than seventy-four Senators because two Greens Party Senators have acknowledged they are ineligible – see www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/queensland-greens-senator-larissa-waters-resigns-over-dual-citizenship/news-story/ecb99e946835145fd8f6dacdbf55e131. We may have only seventy-two Senators because detailed questions have been raised about the eligibility of two others – see www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-roberts-expert-anne-twomey-believes-one-nation-senator-may-have-breached-constitution-20170727-gxkeol.html and www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-dissenting-argument-from-a-former-governorgeneral-that-could-save-matt-canavans-skin-20170727-gxjxkr.html.
Both Senators Roberts (One Nation Party) and Canavan (Liberal National Party) say they are eligible. There’s no doubt this will be tested in the Court of Disputed Returns – probably at the same time as determinations are made about Larissa Waters’ and Scott Ludlum’s replacements.
The Australian Senate resumes on 8 August 2017, and we can be very sure if either Senator Roberts or Senator Canavan seek to exercise a vote, or perhaps even take their seat, someone is going to go to Court, claim those Senators are ineligible, and seek via legal action to stop them acting as a Senator.
And to add to the potential for chaos, while it is a typically over-blown and under-researched article, the Australian newspaper has questioned the eligibility of 21 Members of Parliament further, from all of the Liberal Party, the National Party, and Australian Labor Party: www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/mp-dual-nationality-fiasco-extends-to-bloodlines/news-story/5ad03ba3d47cf4eae0a5b1066ea5c59b?login=1 (paywalled).
In the House of Representatives, the Government has only a one-seat majority – should any one Government member* in the House acknowledge ineligibility, or be found ineligible, they will lose their working majority in the House, the capacity of the Government to govern at all becomes questionable, and we may be headed to a very early election.
By 8 August, all of our Parliamentary parties need to have their plans in place for how to react: because the success of the Government’s legislative program, or the very existence of the Turnbull Government, might hinge on the outcome, there’s little hope of bipartisanship.
Here’s a link to information on the Australian Electoral Commission website explaining eligibility laws: www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Publications/backgrounders/constitutional-disqual-intending-candidates.htm
* Or one more Government member than non-Government members.
Was Australia’s, and the world’s, first Labor Prime Minister invalidly elected?
Scott Ludlam’s and Larissa Waters’ announcements they are not eligible to be Senators www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/greens-mp-scott-ludlam-forced-to-quit-senate/news-story/c92e91f84c9db4abc3d11e92eb96abf5 and www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/queensland-greens-senator-larissa-waters-resigns-over-dual-citizenship/news-story/ecb99e946835145fd8f6dacdbf55e131 throws plenty of juicy but well-answered questions into the public arena, but because they are so badly trained and do so little research, most journalists and commentators will get their facts wrong – see yesterday’s article here.
But there’s an even more interesting issue of which we are reminded: was Australia’s and the world’s first Labor Prime Minister invalidly so?
Chris Watson’s birthplace and birthdate were once the subject of some confusion, but it’s now clear he was born in Chile: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/watson-john-christian-chris-9003.
Did Chilean law at that time mandate that someone taking citizenship of another country automatically lost Chilean citizenship? If not, did he ever renounce his Chilean citizenship? Almost certainly not.
Was he ever an Australian citizen? The Grassby/Ordoñez biography* (pages 31-32) suggests he claimed to be British-born, and never bothered with the formality of becoming an Aussie.
So, how could he be elected to the Australian Parliament in 1901 and later become Australia’s** first Labor Prime Minister in 1904? Quite possibly not lawfully!
* Grassby, A. and Ordoñez, S. (1999) . John Watson. Melbourne: Black Inc.
** … and the world’s! Did we mention that already?
Scott Ludlam’s announcement he’s not eligible to be a Senator www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/greens-mp-scott-ludlam-forced-to-quit-senate/news-story/c92e91f84c9db4abc3d11e92eb96abf5 throws plenty of juicy but well-answered questions into the public arena, but because Australian journalists and commentators are too often badly trained and do little research, most will get their facts wrong.
Here’s some fast facts:
- Scott can’t resign from the office of Senator, because he’s not a Senator: his ineligibility means his election was invalid and he’s never lawfully been a Senator. You can’t resign from being something that you’ve never been.
- Declaration of the poll, on each of those occasions he’s been elected and reelected, by the Australian Electoral Commission doesn’t make him a Senator if he never was eligible; the AEC doesn’t have the power to inquire into eligibility – they simply require candidates to declare they are eligible.
- Because he can’t resign, someone – probably the AEC – will need to start a Court of Disputed Returns action in order to have Scott’s election declared invalid and a recount ordered.
- Or, he could try to take his seat in the Senate* at the next sittings, or re-occupy his Senate office, or take his next Senate pay cheque, in which case someone – probably the Liberal Party or National Party – would seek an injunction to prevent it, which would eventually have the same outcome as a Court of Disputed Returns action.
- Because Scott isn’t resigning, the casual vacancy mechanism relating to mid-term replacement of Senators isn’t activated and The Greens don’t get to nominate a replacement.
- The recount mentioned above will probably see the third candidate on The Greens’ Senate ticket at the last election – Jordon Steele-John – declared elected.
- In theory, Scott has a debt to the Commonwealth of all of the salary he has been paid, and all of the expenses of his office. Normal practice is that the debt is calculated, demanded, and then waived. However, others have different ideas: www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/16/george-brandis-attacks-scott-ludlam-and-says-he-could-be-forced-to-repay-debt.
- This is a guy who has been doing what has generally been acknowledged to be a good job**, is hard-working, and is open about having suffered depression, and these revelations will have come as a huge shock; all of his staff, too, are now without jobs or income: so even those who dislike The Greens intensely might wind back the gloating a little.
The ABC’s Antony Green makes additional interesting points here http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2017/07/scott-ludlam-resigns-what-happens-to-his-senate-seat.html.
The Senate may initially be harder to predict until a new Senator is appointed – probably months away – but things will be easier for the Government in the interim:
Of the 75 Senators post-Ludlam, 29 are Coalition, 26 Labor, 8 Greens, 4 One Nation, 3 Xenophon Team, and one each to Liberal Democrats (Leynholm), Justice Party (Hinch), Australian Conservatives (Bernardi), Jacqui Lambie Network, and independent Gichuhi (who is ex-Family First); usually, to secure Senate passage, the Government will need nine votes from amongst the 20 cross-benchers, and Labor needs 12. Prior to the Ludlam revelation, the Government needed ten and Labor needed thirteen.
Prior to the Ludlam revelation, the Government needed ten and Labor needed thirteen. The smaller number will make it easier than before, for the Government to stitch together nine further votes and hence a Senate majority, because they will have to wrangle fewer of the cross-bench votes, and complicated ideologies and personalities, so to do.
* Of course he won’t: he’s not that dishonest or stupid. Many friends say he is quite nice.
** Political disagreements aside, of course.
- Premier defends Attorney General over youth detention review www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/premier-annastacia-palaszczuk-defends-attorneygenerals-handling-of-youth-detention-review/news-story/104b635e4d035185e5e0a13c1989f7c7
- Reaction against new scanner laws www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-01/queensland-nightclub-identification-laws-explained/8667818
- Taskforce checking building products www.9news.com.au/health/2017/07/01/03/32/qld-investigates-sub-par-building-supplies
- Blueprint takes shape for whole-of-government federated identity system www.itnews.com.au/news/queensland-has-built-a-federated-identity-blueprint-466465
- New Integrity Commissioner announced www.9news.com.au/national/2017/06/29/17/24/queensland-appoints-integrity-commissioner
- Queensland announces world’s longest electric vehicle highway http://reneweconomy.com.au/worlds-longest-electric-vehicle-super-highway-revs-up-92841/
- Disgraced former Minister to repay 25% of pension funds http://au.news.yahoo.com/qld/a/36195650/nuttall-ordered-to-pay-govt-about-400k/
- “Problem trains” service commencement date unknown www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/rollout-of-qrs-problem-trains-delayed-to-before-the-games-20170628-gx0ij0.html
- Ongoing demands to reduce public servant numbers www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/cuts-needed-to-save-budget-as-queensland-public-service-employee-expenses-blow-out/news-story/5253b0c99796c02877964febae06e424
Opposition and Crossbench
- Liberal-National Party reserves it’s Far North Queensland funding promises www.cairnspost.com.au/business/tim-nicholls-refuses-preelection-funding-pledges-for-far-north/news-story/3430a8983029e12711e9a872fd96bcdc
- … but promises to fix South-East Queensland rail problems www.qt.com.au/news/nicholls-promises-to-fix-the-rail-chaos/3195665/
- Opposition Leader touring the north www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/opposition-leader-tim-nicholls-touches-down-in-cairns/news-story/0d3720d466da05660092e3b58250155f
- One Nation Party will fund school chaplaincy www.news-mail.com.au/news/one-nation-vows-fund-school-chaplaincy-programs/3194368/
- Liberal-National Party canvasses voter views on preference deal with One Nation Party www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/lnp-canvass-one-nation-preference-deal-in-phone-poll/news-story/b7cc56b1230095741346a0b033c54108
- … as Tim Nicholls declines to rule out working with One Nation www.9news.com.au/national/2017/06/26/11/20/one-nation-could-decide-next-qld-election
- … and the One Nation Party vote holds up in latest polling www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/newspoll-queensland-one-nation-vote-unaffected-by-paulines-perils/news-story/d0bd33e18f05a986ff78266a529dddec
- Not sure why it is news again, but the election due by May next year hasn’t been called yet www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/no-election-date-for-queensland-yet/news-story/5e3b75be23c94f5948afe5a50d9b0351
- State Government charges up from 1 July www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-01/queenslanders-brace-higher-costs-and-fees-from-july-1/8668882
- Ongoing attacks on parole decisions www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-parole-new-fulltime-board-aims-to-address-prison-overcrowding/news-story/a3ba9d8e189e1c051d7228196d4baab7
- … and the chief Magistrate is unconcerned about Bail Act changes www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/judge-is-ok-with-tougher-bail-law/news-story/b7c1b6768020787ae1e5c0cfcc72fc82
- Census 2016: where Queensland is changing www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/census-2016-queensland-population-booms-in-buderim-surfers-paradise-and-caloundra/news-story/d1f8700d38bf0fb3da9412c9863518a
- … where Queensland is earning www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/single-atheist-and-making-money-how-brisbane-compares-20170627-gwzc3h.html
- … and changes in Queensland’s population trends http://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2017/06/29/population-growth-queenslands-recent-slump-guest-post-from-alistair-robson/
Economy and Infrastructure
- New economic analysis of the viability of the Adani mine www.tai.org.au/node/3727
- Direct Guangzhou – Darwin flights from December www.ntnews.com.au/news/national/china-southern-airlines-flies-guangzhou-to-cairns-from-dec/news-story/f56694469d64b4bd74a0d8f6fdcb0d7e
- Financial fallout from Pacquiao-Horn fight www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/battle-of-brisbane-turns-into-a-goldmine-for-pacquiao-and-horn/news-story/a0254d6853895fac9dddc53847d5bd0a
- QSuper loses public servant superannuation monopoly www.couriermail.com.au/business/super-funds-eye-public-servant-nest-eggs-as-qsuper-loses-monopoly/news-story/3b1aac84966265e3d2fa9bc866c79e2a
- Water Security Taskforce to recommend Townsville pipeline duplication www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/new-pipeline-to-fix-townsvilles-water-crisis/news-story/fa5f51fff3daadee25e0aad523060ed3
- Great Barrier Reef benefits and value tallied www.governmentnews.com.au/2017/06/coal-coral-queensland-government-undecided/
- … and compared with Adani mine www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/the-reef-vs-adanis-mine-in-numbers/news-story/9775e29f51c0b02262a3a41875ecee17
- Queensland Investment Corporation might invest in Galilee coal www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/queensland-government-finance-body-in-talks-fund-galilee-coal/8655786
- Government requests delay in Acland closure decision www.triplem.com.au/news/darling-downs/request-for-delay-in-the-decision-of-stage-3-of-the-acland-mine-expansion
- Queensland’s Labor market improving http://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2017/06/30/vacancies-data-support-improving-employment-outlook-in-lead-up-to-qld-election/
- Queensland’s Parliament next convenes from Tuesday 18 July to Friday 21 July, for Estimates Committee hearings about the budget
- Federal Parliament has commenced their long winter break, and next sits from Tuesday 8 August to Thursday 10 August
- The notice paper for the next sittings of the Queensland Parliament can be downloaded here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/sitting-dates/latest-sitting-dates
- The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
- The forward agenda for the Federal Parliament can be found here www.dpmc.gov.au/resource-centre
- By-election for Ipswich Mayor: date set www.qt.com.au/news/electoral-commission-announces-election-date-ipswi/3195550/
- Queensland water systems vulnerable to cyber attack www.cio.com.au/article/621233/queensland-water-systems-wide-open-cyberattacks-audit
- Man behind local government corruption allegations bashed www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/26/queensland-anti-corruption-campaigner-jim-dodrill-attacked-in-bushland
- Complaint to Crime and Corruption Commission about Member of Parliament for Bundamba www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/joann-miller-ccc-rejects-mayors-report-over-call/news-story/17b32c4faa7c689a65f4a191d6f17592
* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual. Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.