GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: The Citizenship Eight?
Senate President Stephen Parry has announced his immediate resignation from Parliament this week, revealing he holds dual citizenship with the UK, in breach of the Constitution. Mr Parry is the eighth MP to be affected by the rule, the High Court last week ruling five members ineligible to sit in Parliament. Mr Parry described his departure as a “rapid and unexpected event”, and thanked his colleagues “from all quarters of the chamber”. The news has reignited a push for a citizenship audit for all MPs, despite leaders of both major parties opposing the move. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he is “disappointed” that Mr Parry chose to delay the revelations of his dual citizenship, saying “he should have reported it much earlier”. See the media coverage here.
According to this week’s Newspoll, the Government has lost ground to Labor amid the citizenship debate and last week’s controversy over Australian Workers’ Union raids, trailing 46 per cent to Labor’s 54 per cent in two-party preferred terms. The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to just 35 per cent, marking one of the lowest results this year. Mr Turnbull retains his lead as preferred Prime Minister over Opposition Leader Bill Shortenon an unchanged 41 to 33 points.
Wasting no time since last week’s High Court citizenship decision, former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has kicked off his re-election campaign for the NSW seat of New England ahead of the 2 December by-election. Both One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have announced they will not be contesting the seat, along with former independent member for New England Tony Windsor. Mr Joyce won 52 per cent of the primary vote at the 2016 Federal Election, while recent internal Nationals polling reportedly predicts he will win 58 per cent of the primary vote at the upcoming by-election. ABC election analyst Antony Green suggests it is “highly likely” Mr Joyce will prevail in New England next month. It has been confirmed that a Deputy Prime Minister will not be appointed in Mr Joyce’s absence; Prime Minister Turnbull has temporarily assumed responsibility for Mr Joyce’s portfolio of Agriculture and Water Resources. See the media coverage here.
The Queensland Election has been called for 25 November, with opinion polling indicating mixed results on which party will be able to form government following the poll. In mid-October, a Newspoll showed that Labor leads 52 per cent to the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) 48 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis, whereas the latest ReachTEL poll reverses that result. A leaked report, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Water Supply, has revealed that a new coal-fired power station could provide energy security, reduce emissions and lower transmission costs in the Sunshine State. Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk has countered any proposed benefits by confirming the report also suggested “a new coal-fired power station would keep electricity bills high for 40 years”. For further information on the Queensland Election, see GRACosway’s briefing note here.
Travelling to Israel this week, Malcolm Turnbull has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend a formal bilateral meeting and finalise a defence industry agreement, reflecting “common values of freedom, of democracy, the rule of law, pluralism” and further entrenching international cooperation between Australia and Israel. The two leaders discussed the threat of terrorism and emphasised the role of cyber security in preventing future terrorist attacks.
Nick Xenophon has formally resigned from the Senate this week, to contest the South Australian seat of Hartley at the March 2018 State Election. The former senator has endorsed his principal adviser, Rex Patrick, to fill the casual vacancy left in his stead, however, a legal challenge has been issued over the nomination. Tim Storer, who was fourth on the party’s ticket at the 2016 Federal Election, has argued for a right to fill the casual vacancy. It is understood that SA Attorney-General John Rau will seek legal advice from the Crown Solicitors’ Office ahead of the joint sitting on 14 November, when a replacement senator will be considered. Amid this controversy, it has been announced that the Federal Nick Xenophon Team will be renamed SA-Best (Federal). See the media coverage here.
The WA Parliament will sit next week.