GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the results of the 2016 Census this week, which reveal the ‘typical’ Australian to be a 38-year-old married Australian-born female, who is paying a mortgage and supports two children. Notably, the ACT’s population has grown by 11.2 per cent in five years, prompting the suggestion that a third federal lower house electorate could be established in the Territory. A paper published by the Parliamentary Library this week forecasts an additional federal seat for the ACT and Victoria based on the Census results, while South Australia would likely lose one seat due to lagging population growth. See the media coverage here.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has apologised for “unhelpful and damaging” remarks made this week which reignited debate within the Federal Government over the issue of same-sex marriage. In a leaked video, Mr Pyne was seen to have suggested the Government could hasten a vote on the issue, which reportedly triggered considerable unrest across the party. Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed the party has no plans to alter its policy position, saying “We have made it very clear that we will allow or support a free vote on same-sex marriage after the Australian people have voted in a plebiscite”. See the media coverage here.
The Federal Government has announced Victoria will receive $1.42 billion in funding for a range of infrastructure projects, following a dispute over infrastructure funding between the two governments stemming from the sale of the Port of Melbourne. In a joint statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said funding for rail upgrades in regional Victoria will create over 1,000 new jobs and assist in delivering new services, reducing waiting times and upgrading stations. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dubbed the funding “a win for regional Victoria and a win for Victorian jobs”, saying “We said we would fight every day to get the money that was owed to Victorians and that’s what we’ve done”. See the media release here.
NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has been suspended from party room discussions regarding contentious government legislation following recent controversy over the Party’s approach to school funding reform, which highlighted “a structural issue that needs to be addressed”, according to Tasmanian Senator and acting whip Nick McKim. It is understood the suspension will be implemented until the NSW Greens “end the practice of NSW MPs being bound to vote against the decision of the Australian Greens party room.” See the media coverage here.
Victoria Police have launched a formal investigation into former Victorian Speaker Telmo Languiller and Deputy Don Nardella for alleged fraud. Both MPs resigned from their roles in February following revelations of more than $200,000 claimed in secondary residence allowances despite Mr Languiller and Mr Nardella both representing Melbourne electorates. If Victoria Police lay formal charges, the MPs would not be forced to leave Parliament, however, a conviction would establish grounds for removal. See the media coverage here.
The SA Parliament sits next week.