Category Archives: Crisis management
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.
Death, destruction & recovery from Cyclone Debbie has dominated the news* last week in Queensland and still does, with ongoing evacuations, flooding and damage, whilst some communities begin their recovery.
- Cyclone Debbie drives Government activity www.9news.com.au/national/2017/04/01/03/32/premier-to-head-back-to-debbie-hit-north
- Daylight saving petition rejected by Government www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government-rejects-petition-calling-for-referendum-on-daylight-saving/news-story/f69a24406ea271ead9f4912ec76ad7cc
- Crime and Corruption Commission scope expanding www.themandarin.com.au/77303-queenslands-corruption-reform-welcome-but-theres-more-to-be-done/
- Premier to press for more family-friendly sittings hours www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/mps-lose-sleep-over-long-days-as-premier-seeks-more-familyfriendly-hours/news-story/1acc50367762dd35af98fe14564e6c38
Opposition and Crossbench
- Four sitting Liberal-National Party Members of Parliament facing selection challenges www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/sitting-queensland-lnp-members-face-preselection-challenges/news-story/660fa1978eb591e9b6deaf5a3b6533b4
- Courier Mail criticises infrastructure spending www.couriermail.com.au/business/measly-expenditure-on-vital-projects-in-queensland-is-putting-a-handbrake-on-growth/news-story/a93e14e4d07de085b3f44e32e4d3588b
- Courier Mail alleges corrupt resource allocation www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-labor-must-explain-how-school-improvement-funds-were-allocated/news-story/da95bba9bcb8d2bbec20dcde1681e93e
- You think the Courier Mail is the Queensland leader in mean-spirited, partisan, headlines? www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/premier-interrupts-ses-workers-barricading-rocky-a/3161905/
- Courier Mail questions re-endorsement of Rick Williams MP www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/editorial-regrets-rick-williams-should-have-a-few/news-story/9d5b27a1f3a5a500452894a07eecff27
- Days after Cyclone Debbie, rivers continue to rise & communities evacuate www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/four-people-die-as-rivers-peak-at-historic-levels-in-aftermath-of-cyclone-debbie/news-story/f1987c153a0f037c758d88c81fa95be5
- … ongoing impacts: long-term rebuild, flooding continues www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/debbie-is-not-done-with-us-yet-premier-20170401-gvbmq4.html
- … victims denied incorrectly assistance www.qt.com.au/news/mp-claims-cyclone-debbie-victims-falsely-denied-di/3162107/
- … flooding expected to peak in Rocky on Wednesday www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-01/cyclone-debbie-rockhampton-faces-huge-flooding/8406838
- Are biofuels increasing petrol prices? http://biofuels-news.com/display_news/12088/Biofuels_accused_of_raising_petrol_prices_in_Queensland__Australia/
- Some children not getting welfare visits www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/children-in-foster-care-detention-centres-and-mental-health-facilities-missing-welfare-checks/news-story/c4199744f484832fc4c9c2c189d5eda1
- LGBTI legal service receives first-time funding www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/queensland-news/queensland-welcome-legal-funding/156938
- Brisbane River’s raw sewage spill www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/raw-sewage-spill-in-brisbane-river-could-warrant-fine-queensland-government-20170326-gv6x1q.html
Economy and Infrastructure
- Queensland economy should prove resilient, post Cyclone Debbie http://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2017/03/31/qld-economy-should-be-resilient-to-cyclone-debbie/
- Adani reaffirms works will commence between June and September www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/31/adani-chief-executive-says-queensland-project-will-go-ahead-this-year
- How much is a horse race worth? www.thechronicle.com.au/news/backing-right-race-brings-800000-boost-toowoomba/3160517/
- Start-up hub opens in Fortitude Valley www.technologydecisions.com.au/content/it-management/news/queensland-opens-new-start-up-precinct-886859211#axzz4d5C0DIwk
- Productivity Commission calls for sugar industry deregulation www.skynews.com.au/news/national/qld/2017/03/28/calls-for-sugar-deregulation.html
- … while Federal Government says they won’t intervene in QSL/Wilmar dispute www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/hanson-to-go-on-strike-over-sugar/news-story/f4b85148a7ecfb79a564bc0c1f5fa0a5
- Queensland’s Parliament next sits again from Tuesday 9 May to Thursday 11 May
- 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
- Federal Parliament sat last week, and next sits from Monday 9 May to Thursday 11 May – the Federal Budget will be delivered on 9 May
- The forward agenda for the Federal Parliament can be found here www.dpmc.gov.au/resource-centre
* 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.
On January 31, 2015, Queensland’s Liberal National Party lost State Government by a small margin, after having taken Government in 2012 with a record swing and a huge majority in the Queensland parliament.
Today the LNP released their review of what went wrong for them, and you can download it here: http://lnp.org.au/election-review/.
It is too soon to review the Report in depth but it finds, inter alia:
“The overwhelming election win of 2012 led to hubris and a false sense of security consolidating an energetic and reformist government leadership team but without parliamentary experience. The huge influx of inexperienced new MP’s and a leader without parliamentary background contributed to a lack of corporate history in the conduct of parliament and the party room.
“Broad based disappointment has been expressed with the campaign and the election defeat. Undoubtedly, the leadership of the government contributed to the election loss including:
- the breaking of the promise that public servants had ‘nothing to fear’;
- the perception of arrogance arising from not listening to the people;
- pursuing the large scale privatisation of assets to which the majority of voters opposed or had serious reservations;
- the alienation of key stakeholders in the decision making process; and
- the two year discordant relationship with the organisational wing.
“The campaign itself, the responsibility of the central campaign committee had inherent problems such as failing to:
- address the perception of the Government’s arrogance and to turn this weakness into strengths;
- promote the government’s considerable achievements in fixing “labor’s mess’ and growing the state’s economy;
- launch an attack program to rebut the deceitful and untruthful propaganda of the party’s opponents;
- engender confidence with local campaign committees; and
- manage the expectation that the party with its large majority would hold government at the poll.”
The Report makes 39 recommendations:
- The Borbidge Sheldon review report and recommendations must be released to party units at the same time it is given to the state executive and made public thereafter.
- The review committee notes the actions taken by the parliamentary party to address the lessons learned from the 2015 election defeat.
- The review committee notes the over-riding need to improve the relationship between the parliamentary and organisational wings of the party and recommends:
- The parliamentary party members retain the right to select their leader from within their own ranks.
- A compact be established to define the relationship between the parliamentary and organisational wings of the party.
- That the compact be prepared by a party member nominated by the parliamentary leader who should be a previous parliamentary leader of the LNP, the liberal party or the national party, a party member nominated by the state president who should be a former president of the LNP, the liberal party or the national party and one other, jointly nominated by both.
- That the compact be agreed to by the parliamentary party and the state executive and signed by the parliamentary leader and the party president.
- That the state executive address as an urgent priority meaningful connectivity and communications with the grassroots membership.
- That the LNP Integrity Paper should be updated and implemented and all candidates should be required to acknowledge and accept its requirements. That the LNP in government or opposition be required to adhere to the principles which include:
- broken promises will not be tolerated by the public;
- corruption and lack of accountability will not be tolerated;
- the institutions of state must be respected.
- That major policy issues proposed by the parliamentary party where possible be subjected to debate at either the state council or the state convention or, if found to be urgent, be considered by the president’s committee/state executive for comment.
- That a party platform detailing the party’s principles and policies be finalised for distribution to members as a matter of urgency.
- That the president and the state director, in the LNP Annual Report indicate that the administrative, organisational, financial and policy responsibilities as required under the LNP’s constitution has been complied with.
- That the central campaign committee be restructured to include party policy and decentralised representatives as determined by the president and parliamentary leader.
- The position of campaign director should be separate from the state director and report to the state president.
- The review committee notes that a limited number of federal issues impacted adversely on the state campaign, in particular the controversy over the awarding of knighthoods, the GP co-payment and the defence pay issue and recommends:
- That close consultation be establish between the central campaign committee and the federal leadership to minimise adverse impacts on state campaigns of federal issues and that a liaison unit be established between central headquarters (CHQ) and the federal leader’s office.
- That a central campaign strategy allow increased decision making for local campaigns.
- That state elections be avoided during the month of January as it is a recognised holiday period.
- The review committee notes with concern:
- The absence of a marginal/target seats campaign at the 2015 state election and recommends that the strategy be reinstated for future state elections,
- the absence of a negative advertising campaign, the want of the central campaign committee to exploit the weaknesses of the prime opponent, and
- the lack of third party endorsements in support of the party’s policies and actions in the campaign.
- It is recommended that such strategies be included in future state election campaigns.
- Sitting MPS, recontesting the poll should be permitted to handle PVA’s for his/her electorate, whilst candidates PVAs should be managed by the central campaign.
- It is essential that booth advertising material should arrive prior to prepolling; booth signs should be of a size that enables them to be easily and safely transported.
- The centralised banking system and the campaign funding/ budgeting process should be reviewed specifically to provide party units with increased financial control and campaign committees with the latitude to make funding decisions – whilst maintaining the link to CHQ budget/systems/agreements. It recommended that:
- That the treasurer report to state convention or council, as a matter of urgency, on measures that can be implemented to provide SEC’s with greater responsibility for their funds and budgets.
- The Just Vote 1 strategy should be reviewed to ensure that it is applicable to the political and election circumstances.
- The review committee notes the enhancements to the applicant review process for the endorsement of candidates and recommends that the processes be monitored to ensure they are robust to meet any issue that may emerge.
- Plebiscites should be the preferred method for the selection of candidates.
- That the CHQ organisational structure be reviewed to improve efficiency with emphasis on communications, policy development, membership services and the delivery thereof.
- That the gender balance of the state executive be a consideration of members when electing persons to roles on this body.
- That all appointments made by the state president or the state executive be subject to confirmation by state council.
- That the composition of the president’s committee be widened to include the parliamentary leader or his nominee.
- That members of state executive recognise the responsibilities associated with their dual roles of governance and communications to and from party units and ensure they act as conduits of information.
- That a membership customer relations manager be appointed.
- A permanent strategic research office should be established in CHQ to undertake electorate and policy research.
- A membership development strategy should be developed to grow the membership which should include the introduction of online membership applications.
- A new category of family membership should be introduced.
- State convention or state council resolutions be categorised to reflect the three levels of government so that the responsible minister/shadow/councillor or other office holder may be present for the duration of the debate.
- State convention and state council attendance by the parliamentary leader and members of parliament be required unless in extenuating circumstances.
- Meetings of the LNP state council and state convention and shadow cabinet meetings should be held, where practicable in regional centres as well as the capital city.
- That ministers/shadows meet regularly with party policy chairs and their committees and attendance or otherwise conveyed to the parliamentary leader and the state president.
- That CHQ prepare a data base of membership expertise as a resource for MP’s and policy committees.
- That the LNP establish an independent review of its social media strategy and its effectiveness compared to our political opponents.
- That social media training should be introduced for MP’s, senior staff and party members.
- That an ongoing social media strategy be developed.
- That members of parliament and candidates not be directly involved in the soliciting of funds.
- That the LNP consider the full public funding of election campaigns and the banning of trade union and corporate donations.
What happens in Queensland’s Ferny Grove electorate from now is perfectly clear: the only confusion is being propagated by the ignorant, and by people who should know better*.
Yes, there’s a problem in the Ferny Grove electorate: one candidate is ineligible to run. The law is clear: once the election is under way, unless a Court orders otherwise, the Electoral Commission of Queensland counts the ballot and declares a result.
The Liberal National Party has made clear that they will challenge that result – I imagine they won’t do that if their candidate wins. The ECQ might also challenge the result – the equivalent was done in Western Australia over the disputed 2013 Senate election.
Whoever is declared elected by the ECQ is a Member of Parliament and takes their seat in Parliament, unless a court orders otherwise.
If Labor‘s Mark Furner is elected, as seems likely as of today, The LNP might ask the Court of Disputed Returns to suspend the declaration by the ECQ, but I don’t believe that has been done before in Australia in a case where there doubt exists about the outcome of the full trial.
The Court case would take perhaps four or five months, as it did in the Mundingburra case in 1995/1996.
So, there is every reason to believe that Mark Furner will be the MP for Ferny Grove for at least four months, and possibly three years.
The only thing in doubt is whether Mr Justice Carmody can properly sit as a member of the Court of Disputed Returns.
* Update: There’s even less confusion now (16 February 2015) that both the LNP and the ECQ have decided against taking the result to a Court of Disputed Returns.
Here’s a downloadable basic primer on crisis management, for you – Happy New-ish Year!
In 2011 Mike Smith gave a presentation on political crisis management to The Art of Political Campaigning Conference* organised by Campaigns & Elections Magazine in Washington DC.
The presentation has been tidied it up and reformatted, and it now might be useful as a very basic crisis management tutorial, with obvious US, and election, taints!
It includes a number of crisis management failure case studies, some of which make depressing reading.
You can download it here – if you use it anywhere, please attribute!