GRACosway Political Week in Review
15 July 2016
The Coalition has crossed the election finish line with a total of 76 or 77 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives – including narrow victories over recent days in the marginal Queensland seats of Flynn, Capricornia and, potentially, Herbert – resulting in the Liberal and National parties forming a majority government for a second term. Fewer than 50 votes separate the two parties in Herbert, with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) confirming it will conduct an automatic recount if the seat is won by less than 100 votes. The ALP has secured 68 seats in total, prevailing in the West Australian electorate of Cowan and the seat of Hindmarsh in South Australia, where former member Steve Georganas edged out Liberal incumbent Matt Williams late this week.
Upon his return to Canberra, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received an incoming government briefing from Prime Minister and Cabinet Departmental Secretary Martin Parkinson and commenced re-negotiation of the Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties. Mr Turnbull also participated in a meeting of the Cabinet’s National Security Committee and announced Government MPs will meet in Canberra on Monday, after which he will unveil a revamped Ministry that is expected to include greater representation for the Nationals.
The Prime Minister has reiterated the Coalition remains dedicated to delivering its economic plan and previously-announced budget measures in addition to implementing its election campaign commitments, which include amendments to the Fair Work Act to prevent union influence on volunteer organisations. Mr Turnbull confirmed the Government’s two industrial relations bills – which triggered the double dissolution election – must first be considered by the House of Representatives before being put to the Senate for a vote and then to a joint sitting of both houses if blocked by the Senate. Mr Turnbull also paid tribute to outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron and said Australia will maintain its strong ties to Britain under the leadership of new Prime Minister Theresa May who he expects will do “an outstanding job” in the difficult post-Brexit process. Mr Turnbull also issued a statement today in relation to the Bastille Day attack in France overnight, condemning it as a “murderous act of terror” and extending the nation’s condolences to the French people.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten spent the week focused on the Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties, which he dubbed a “secret deal”, and said the Australian people had a right to know “what deals are being done to constitute the Government of Australia”. Mr Shorten visited Adelaide on Wednesday to congratulate Steve Georganas on his victory in Hindmarsh, saying Labor was looking forward to having the “hero of Hindmarsh” back in Parliament.
The Nationals held a party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, where Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion was re-elected unopposed as the Party’s Senate Leader and Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry led a push to scrap the Federal Government’s ‘backpacker tax’. Ms Landry said the proposed tax – which would remove the tax-free threshold for backpackers and see them taxed at a rate of 32.5 per cent – was a “massive issue” in her Rockhampton-based electorate, despite the Federal Government announcing in May it would delay the measure for six months.
Anti-gambling advocates Senator Nick Xenophon and Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie announced they will use their negotiating power in the new Federal Parliament to “put gambling reform back on the national agenda” and “finally achieve meaningful action”. In a joint media release issued on Thursday, the duo announced they will seek to re-establish the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, implement $1 maximum bets on poker machines and ban sports betting advertising during G-rated television programs.
Highlights of the Week
- Tasmanian Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz said the election result was the “barest of victories” for the Coalition and argued the Government’s proposed superannuation changes were not “properly ventilated” in the party room before being announced.
- Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has been accused of copying large parts of its policy platform from online sources such as Wikipedia and anti-Islamic publications.
- Former ‘Father of the House’ Philip Ruddock has handed the informal title to his successor Kevin Andrews, who will boast the longest uninterrupted record of service in the new House of Representatives, having been elected as the Member for Menzies in 1991.
- Labor’s Anne Aly claimed victory in the West Australian seat of Cowan, becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the Australian Parliament and defeating Liberal incumbent Luke Simpkins with 50.7 per cent of the two-party preferred vote at last count.
- Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has likened the NSW Government’s decision to ban greyhound racing to the former Federal Labor Government’s 2011 move to suspend live cattle exports, saying he is “a little bit cautious about banning anything” and suggesting a “way around” the ban could be investigated.
Outgoing Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus has written a letter of complaint to the AEC in relation to allegations that polling booths ran out of ballot papers on Election Day, resulting in voters being marked off the roll without casting their vote.