GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up

18 August 2017
In what could only be described as an extraordinary week in politics, Deputy Prime MinisterBarnaby Joyce referred himself to the High Court, following revelations that he may be a New Zealand dual citizen and therefore ineligible to be elected to Parliament. He has rejected Labor’s demands to stand aside and forgo voting in Parliament until the matter is settled. On Thursday, Nationals Deputy Leader Senator Fiona Nashannounced that she may be a UK dual citizen by descent. Her case will be referred to the High Court, along with the growing list of other possible dual citizens in the Federal Parliament. Ms Nash has advised she will not stand aside from her portfolio responsibilities in Regional Development and Regional Communications. South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has this morning confirmed he is seeking clarification from the British Home Office as to his citizenship status following suggestions he may be a British citizen by descent. Meanwhile, crossbencher Cory Bernardi has called for Parliament to be suspended until the citizenship matters are resolved. See the media coverage here.

The ongoing citizenship debate has contributed to tensions between the Australian Government and the New Zealand Labour party, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishopindicating that she would find it “very difficult to build trust” with a future New Zealand Labour Government. Ms Bishop accused the Australian Labor Party and its New Zealand counterpart of violating “the international obligation for non-interference”, following revelations that a New Zealand MP raised questions in Parliament concerning citizenship after being contacted by Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong’s chief of staff, Marcus Ganley. In a rare moment of unity amid a chaotic week in politics, the Senate rebuked One Nation senator Pauline Hanson for wearing a burqa to Question Time, with Labor and the Greens giving Attorney-General George Brandis a standing ovation for his statement against Senator Hanson’s behaviour. See the media coverage here.

In South Australia, Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell has resigned from the Liberal Party this week after being charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents, prior to entering State Parliament in 2014. Mr Bell has denied any wrongdoing, and confirmed he will remain in Parliament but will not recontest his seat as a Liberal candidate at next year’s election. Meanwhile, John Darley MLC has resigned from the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), citing differences with the party leader. Mr Darley has confirmed that he will see out his full term in Parliament, however, leaving the NXT without a representative in the State Parliament. See the media coverage here.

Still in SA, the State Government has announced that a $650 million 150MW solar thermal power plant will be established at Port Augusta. SolarReserve has been awarded the construction contract, following its successful delivery of a similar project in the United States, which the SA plant will be modelled on. Expected to create 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing roles, the Aurora plant is set to begin construction in 2018 and be operational by 2020. Premier Jay Weatherill said the initiative “will deliver more competition into our energy market and put downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses”. See the media release here.

The Victorian Andrews Government has gained some ground in the polls this week, with ReachTel results indicating a degree of voter backlash against revelations that Opposition Leader Matthew Guy dined with alleged mafia figure Tony Madafferi in April. The results indicate Labor would gain the four most marginal seats of Bentleigh, Frankston, Mordialloc and Carrum if an election were held this week. See the media coverage here.

Former chief of staff to Mathias Cormann Slade Brockman has been sworn in to the Parliament this week, replacing WA Liberal Chris Back, who resigned in late July.

The Victorian, ACT, NT, Queensland and Tasmanian parliaments are sitting next week.


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