Category Archives: Federal Government

8 August 2017: Opportunity for Government, or for Litigation?

Federal Parliament House

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.

Malcolm Roberts

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.

Matthew Canavan

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.

Labor Prime Minister Ineligible?

Scott Ludlam

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.

Chris Watson

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 & the Australian Senate: what happens now?

Scott Ludlam

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.

 

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 6 February 2017

last-week-logo-2Dreadful family violence stories and the new US President, marginalised other news in Queensland, but Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party made plenty of news, as did impending changes at Queensland Rail.

 

Governing

 

Opposition and Crossbench

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

 

Politicshanson-van

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher

Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher

 

Parliament

  • Queensland’s Parliament sits next week, from Tuesday 14 February to Thursday 16 February

    Federal Parliament House

    Federal Parliament House

  • 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 sits this week, from Tuesday 7 February to Thursday 9 February

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

* 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.

 

 

US Elections – What’s Different?

hill-and-donThere are so many differences between US and Australian elections it’s hard to know when to stop listing them:

  • Whilst some Australian legislatures have four-year terms and some have terms fixed, most US elections happen on the first Tuesday after the first Monday, quadrennially (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Day_%28United_States%29#History);
  • In Australian, it’s prohibited – without special permission – for National, State or local Government elections to happen on the same day; in the US they mostly happen on that same day;
  • National election voting rules – polling places, hours of opening, early voting, postal voting, and so on – are in the US managed by States and counties, while in Australia the Federal and State Governments manage their own, respectively, and States generally manage local government elections;
  • It’s changing, but in most cases US States (sometimes counties) independently manage voter lists/electoral rolls, while in Australia the State and Territories, by agreement, have the Federal Government manage theirs;
  • Enrolment to vote is optional in the US and mandatory in Australia;
  • Voting is optional in the US, and mandatory in Australia;
  • In most parts of the US, enrolment to vote is partisan – i.e. you identify yourself publicly on the voter roll as a Democrat, Republican, independent and so on, while political alignment is private in Australia – and that partisan enrolment is a significant component of their primary and caucus system of choosing candidates;
  • In Australia, we vote on a Saturday (still a day off work for most people) while in the US it’s Tuesday, a working day; and
  • Election campaigns in the US are not, as they are in Australia, the cooperative meshing of a party machine’s structures and a leader’s staff – US campaign organisations and structures (for big elections anyway) are mostly completely rebuilt from scratch every four years, at the individual candidate’s direction.

 

Several of these points have quite big implications, and we’ll post articles about these in the coming days.

 

 

(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from mid-October: this year, US election day is 8 November.)

 

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 3 October 2016

last-week-logo-2Renewable energy and environmental protection got plenty of media last week in Queensland*, as did the Premier’s thoughts about how to deal with One Nation.

 

(“Last Week in Queensland” – this blog/newsletter – will be off the air from 10 October to 15 November, while half of Ethical Consulting Services is embedded in the US Presidential Election Campaign)

 

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

 

Politics

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Parliament

Queensland's Parliament's Speaker Wellington

Queensland’s Parliament’s Speaker Wellington

  • Queensland’s Parliament next sits, from Tuesday 11 October to Thursday 13 October
  • 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
  • Both Houses of Federal Parliament next sit, from Monday 10 October to Thursday 13 October, and the House of Representatives sits the following week also – see www.aph.gov.au

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

* 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.

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 22 August 2016

last-week-logo-2Last week in Queensland*, we heard plenty about tree-clearing laws, the claims from both sides of that debate, and all about a Labor MP’s criticism of the Estimates Committee process.

 

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

Opposition Environment spokesperson Christian Rowan

Opposition Environment spokesperson Christian Rowan

 

 

Politics

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Parliamentparl house

  • Queensland’s Parliament sits again next week, from Tuesday 30 August to Thursday 1 September
  • 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 Federal Parliament was prorogued for the Federal Election held on 2 July, and the first sittings days for the new Parliament are next week, Tuesday 30 August to Thursday 1 September – see www.aph.gov.au

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

* 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.

 

 

New Australian Government Ministry 2016

min-vs-opp-160724The new Australian Federal Ministry has been announced, and the Shadow Ministry as well, in the last few days, in consequence of the Australian Federal Election held on 2 July 2016.

Ethical Consulting has done the hard work of matching up Government office-bearers against their Opposition counterparts, for you to download, here http://bit.ly/2a24t07.

If you prefer, here’s the Ministry http://bit.ly/2ai9Skv and here’s the Shadow Ministry http://bit.ly/2aDI894 for you to download, also.

 

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Last Week in Queensland – 25 July 2016

last-week-logo-2This week in Queensland we saw who’s in the new Federal Ministry and Shadow Ministry; we heard about State Parliament’s Estimates Committee hearings, and the Government made each Minister a “champion” for a major indigenous community.

Federal Government

  • In consequence of the recent Australian Election, the new Federal Ministry has been announced, and the Shadow Ministry.  We’ve done the hard work of matching up Government office-bearers against their Opposition counterparts, for you to download, here http://bit.ly/2a24t07.
  • If you prefer, here’s the Ministry http://bit.ly/2ai9Skv and here’s the Shadow Ministry http://bit.ly/2aDI894 for you to download, also.

 

Governing

miller_jo-ann

MP for Bundamba Jo-ann Miller

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

 

Politics

Independent candidate for Toowoomba South Di Thorley

Independent candidate for Toowoomba South Di Thorley

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

ParliamentOpening Parliament 2015

  • Queensland’s Parliament is busy but not formally sitting: we’ve had Estimates hearings on the State Budget this week, and again from 26 to 28 July: the schedule for hearings is here: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/Estimates
  • 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 Federal Parliament was prorogued for the Federal Election held on 2 July, and the first sittings days for the new Parliament are Tuesday 30 August to Thursday 1 September – see www.aph.gov.au

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

* 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.

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 11 July 2016

last-week-logo-2Federal Election fallout kept everyone entertained last week in Queensland’s media, and consequently squeezed out a focus on other news*.  The impact of new liquor trading laws, on the first weekend of trading, was examined.

Federal Election

  • As the narrow result became apparent, Prime Minister Turnbull came under attack from within and without.
  • Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has conceded defeat and the Prime Minister has claimed victory.
  • We still don’t know for certain whether it will be a majority government, or minority, but a scant majority is most likely
  • Both Government and Opposition will now reshuffle their frontbenches.
turnbull

Returned Prime Minister Turnbull

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

 

Politics

Premier Palaszczuk

Premier Palaszczuk

 

Community465px-Gray-Hound

 

Economy and Infrastructure

MP Ian Walker, opposed to above ground rail link

MP Ian Walker, opposed to above ground rail link

 

Parliamentparl house

  • Queensland’s Parliament sits again from 19 to 22 July, and 26 to 28 July, for Estimates Committee hearings on the State Budget
  • 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 Federal Parliament has been prorogued until after the Federal Election on 2 July – see www.aph.gov.au

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

* 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.