GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up
The Coalition reaffirmed its commitment to holding a same-sex marriage plebiscite early this week, however the Senate went on to reject the Government’s enabling legislation for a second time. The Government has since announced a voluntary postal vote will be held to canvass voters’ views on the matter, managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with results expected by mid-November. Prime Minister Turnbull described himself as a “strong leader” for sticking to the Coalition’s election promise to give Australians a say on same-sex marriage, while Bill Shorten has confirmed he “will be campaigning for a yes vote”. Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann has insisted the Government has “a legal and constitutional way forward to give the Australian people a say through a non-legislated postal plebiscite”, however a challenge to the legality of the postal vote was lodged in the High Court late this week by independent MP Andrew Wilkie and other opponents of the plan. See the media coverage here.
New laws designed to put an end to corrupt payments between unions and employees passed through Parliament this week, amending the Fair Work Act 2009 to criminalise illegitimate payments or benefits made between corporations and employee organisations, such as unions. Malcolm Turnbull has commented that Bill Shorten would have been subject to prosecution if the new conditions were in place when he was a trade union leader; Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has demanded an apology for the PM’s “desperate, shrill and grubby attack”. See the media coverage here.
The management of the SA Land Titles Office has been privatised this week, with commercial consortium Land Services SA paying $1.6 billion for the asset. The consortium is comprised of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board. SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis announced the terms of the 40-year privatisation agreement, through which the State Government will receive an ongoing royalty stream in addition to the upfront purchase payment. Critics have raised concerns over data privacy issues, while the Public Service Association has warned of decreased job security and potential threats to the State’s Torrens Title system. The announcement follows a $2.6 billion deal reached in April to privatise the NSW equivalent. See the media coverage here.
Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has referred himself to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) this week after it was revealed he dined with alleged Mafia head Tony Madafferi in April this year. Liberal staffer Barrie Macmillan announced his resignation after a recording of a phone discussion referring to political donations was made public. The recording also implies Mr Guy understood Mr Madafferi would attend the dinner, despite his opposing claims. In wake of the scandal, the Greens have called for reform to the State’s political donations disclosure rules, while Matthew Guy has indicated his “keen interest in reform of political donations in this country”. See the media coverage here.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts’ dual citizenship case has been referred to the High Court by party leader Pauline Hanson, who said Senator Roberts has her “full support” and that the party is committed to “openness and transparency”. Additionally, recently-resigned Greens senator Larissa Waters has taken the necessary steps to renounce her dual citizenship with Canada and has announced her decision to seek preselection for her former seat ahead of the next election. The Senate has referred her case to the High Court, along with that of former senator Scott Ludlam and Nationals senator Matt Canavan. See the media coverage here.
Mr Wesley ‘Wes’ Fang has been elected to the NSW Legislative Council, filling a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Nationals MP Duncan Gay. Deputy Premier John Barilaro said that “Mr Fang and the Nationals share the same values, and I know he will continue to work hard to represent the interests of families, workers and businesses in regional NSW”. See the media coverage here.
The Federal, WA, ACT, NT and Tasmanian parliaments are sitting next week.