Author Archives: Mike Smith

When is Australia’s next Federal Election?

That’s a harder question than it seems.  The complex interaction between laws relating to double dissolution elections, half Senate elections, House of Representatives elections, State elections (coming up in New South Wales and Victoria), and the timing of football finals and more, mean the earliest reasonably possible date is 4 August 2018, for which the election would have to be called by 2 July – only two months away – and the latest reasonably possible date would be May 18, 2019.

Making a judgement about which Saturday, between those dates, might be Election Day was complicated enough, and we were going to post this article which credibly suggests 20 October 2018: http://beginrant.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/begin-rant-why-ive-got-my-money-on-october-20/.

Until the events of Wednesday 9 May 2018 made it much more complicated, that is!  Four ineligible “Members” of the House of Representatives flagged or delivered their resignations, to join Tim Hammond who recently resigned because of the impact of frequent travel on his young family: www.news.com.au/national/politics/labor-senator-katy-gallagher-ineligible-to-serve-in-federal-parliament/news-story/868c92e0d0a6f8a1cc0de14abd01a5a2.  All four (plus Mr Hammond) are non-Government MPs.

We’ve now got 5 by-elections across 4 states, and as Paula Matthewson notes in her newsletter* Despatches on 9 May:

“Somewhat surprisingly, the AEC website advises that “there are no constitutional or statutory requirement that writs … be issued within any prescribed period”.

“Interestingly there’s precedent for a Speaker to decline to issue a writ when a federal election is ‘pending’ to avoid having two elections in close proximity.”

This opens up the possibility of the Prime Minister (OK, notionally the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but let’s be real) waiting until 2 July or a couple of days before, and an early Australian general election would then be called for 4 August.

As Matthewson further noted:

“If opinion polls show that voters have responded favourably to the Budget, would this be a path that Turnbull would take to an ‘early’ election? The option would have to be tempting given it’s expensive to participate in a by-election, and the Coalition isn’t exactly cashed up when compared with the combined election war-chest that has been created by Labor and the union movement.”

Other things which might push Prime Minister Turnbull towards one Election Day or another include:

  • Voters can get cranky if they are sent to the polls too frequently or too early: with whom would the voters of the five by-election seats get angry, if required to vote in a general election shortly after a by-election? Maybe Labor, whose MPs/processes have caused four of the five by-elections, or maybe the Prime Minister who chose the schedule for both.
  • Four of those 5 seats are on a knife-edge, and campaigners in Liberal HQ will be urging the Prime Minister to do nothing which might alienate the voters.  Don’t forget he’s governing with a one-seat majority, and the prospect of doubling or tripling that margin must be appealing.
  • As noted by Ms Matthewson above, the Federal Budget has just been brought down, and no-one knows how the electorate is reacting: one thing for sure is that much of the media for the next day or two, at least, will be consumed with discussion of the resignations and by-elections rather than the budget.
  • The by-elections are a real opportunity to thoroughly test how well the parties campaign, and whether the budget is an electoral plus or minus.
  • If the timing of the by-elections means the general election needs to be further away, not calling that general election on 4 August means the general election might have to be called at time at which the political landscape is somewhat unknown and unpredictable: for example, when polling is less propitious for the Liberal-National Party Coalition, and fewer election date options are available, as Ms Crosby lays out in her Begin Rant article linked above.
  • Does Labor want an election now or next year? While it isn’t up to them to decide, they can put the Prime Minister under a lot of pressure over many of the choices he might make – and there will be concerns within the Coalition at their capacity to withstand sustained populist pressure.
  • The media – and some in the Australian Labor Party – are characterising these by-elections as a test of Labor Opposition Bill Shorten’s leadership: the incumbent Government would probably prefer to face Mr Shorten in a general election rather than a new Labor leader enjoying a honeymoon with the electorate.

So, our best bet:

Prime Minister Turnbull is most likely to wait and see how well his budget is received in the community over the next week, and then choose both by-election and general election dates.

Which ones? On balance, probably by-elections now (say, June) which maintains some flexibility to call a general election for late October, May 18 2019, or February 28 2019, or less likely another date in 2019 albeit identified in Ms Crosby’s article as somewhat unfavourable … but if by-election dates aren’t announced in the next couple of weeks, get ready for a general election on 4 August 2018.

 

PS … Thanks to everyone who has been debating these options on Facebook et al – the discussion has provided plenty of food for thought!

 

 

* You should subscribe, via this page www.linkedin.com/pulse/have-you-signed-up-your-daily-despatches-paula-matthewson/

 

 

 

Queensland’s Federal Redistribution Finalised

Finalisation of the redistribution of Queensland’s federal electorate boundaries has been announced by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Of the 30 electorates, 12 had no change to their boundaries, and changes to the boundaries of the remaining 18 electorates were small.

Antony Green from the ABC analysed the draft boundaries back in October, and the finalised boundaries appear almost exactly the same as the draft boundaries. You can access his October analysis here www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-29/draft-federal-electoral-boundaries-for-queensland-released/8999904.

You can access the draft boundaries, including a comparison with the old boundaries, by downloading the maps from the Australian Electoral Commission here http://aec.gov.au/Electorates/Redistributions/2017/qld/proposed-report/maps/index.htm. Finalised boundary maps will not be available until the end of March 2018.

Before the next Federal Election, six of the eight states and territories require redistributions. The electorate boundaries have now been finalised for Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and Queensland.

 

 

 

Voting is Now Voluntary in Australia

(An edited version of this article appeared in the Courier Mail on Thursday 28 January 2017*)

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.

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”

 

 

 

Queensland’s New Opposition Frontbench

Queensland’s new Liberal National Party Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington announced her new frontbench last Friday 15 December 2017.

They are:

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

 

You can download a list with short biographies here http://bit.ly/2CVhNAY, and if you missed last week’s biographies of the new Government, that can be downloaded here.

 

 

 

 

New Federal Ministry for Christmas

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today announced a reshuffled Ministry, with several retirements/replacements, and new faces.  Amongst the biggest or most surprising changes:

  • 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:

Cabinet

  • 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

 

Outer Ministry

  • 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 Ministers

  • 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

 

 

 

Lobbying in the US – The Basics

Lobbying in the US is very different from lobbying in Australia, and US grassroots lobbying is different again, but these three articles make some good points about the basics of lobbying everywhere:

If you want to know more about lobbying in the US you could do worse than check out the blog on these pages: http://www.lobbyists.info/, and if you want to know how bad and dark corporate lobbying can get in the US, get hold of this documentary and watch it several times – you’ll have trouble believing what you are seeing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casino_Jack_and_the_United_States_of_Money … Mike Smith has a copy he might loan.

But, if you actually want to know how to lobby in the US, you can’t go past this book as a sound, thorough and well-rounded primer  http://www.amazon.com/Influence-Game-Insider-Washington-Lobbying/dp/1118271599/.

One major similarity between Australia and the US: each State and National jurisdiction has a different set of rules relating to lobbying registration, gift-giving and interaction with Government.

 

 

 

Queensland Government: New Labor Ministry

The New Economic Team

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.

Ministers are:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

Queensland Government: Key Economic Portfolios

Re-elected Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

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

 

 

Making Minutes a Thing of Beauty

Are your meeting minutes boring, bad, deficient, mysterious? … Our free guide will help ensure your minutes are focussed, effective, useful, and sufficient unto their purpose!

 

You can download it from here: http://bit.ly/2jXqOVv

 

 

 

Queensland Election 2017 – What Happens Now?

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.