GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Another Remarkable Week in Politics

17 November 2017
Two resignations, one defection, four new senators sworn in and a 10-point lead for Labor in this week’s Newspoll. The past week in politics has been far from boring! To recap:
  • Jacqui Lambie and John Alexander have announced their resignations; former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced she will be running for Labor in Mr Alexander’s electorate of Bennelong.
  • New Greens senators Andrew Bartlett and Jordon Steele-John were sworn in this week, alongside Nick Xenophon’s replacement Rex Patrick and new QLD senator Fraser Anning, who announced his resignation from One Nation almost immediately.
  • The same-sex marriage postal survey results were released, with 61.6 per cent of Australians voting in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.
  • Hollie Hughes was ruled ineligible to fill the vacancy left by Nationals Deputy Leader Fiona Nash.
  • Labor leads the Coalition 55 to 45 in two-party preferred terms according to this week’s Newspoll; Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is now only two points ahead of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred PM.
The Federal Government lost its majority in the House of Representatives this week, following the resignation of Liberal MP John Alexander as a result of his dual citizenship. Despite what has been described by senior ministers as a “messy” time in politics, the Government and Opposition have reached an agreement for all federal MPs to publicly disclose their citizenship status by 1 December. Former NSW Labor Premier Kristina Keneally announced she will contest Mr Alexander’s seat of Bennelong at the upcoming by-election on 16 December, while Hollie Hughes was deemed ineligible to fill Fiona Nash’s vacant Senate seat due to her previous role with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has also resigned, after discovering she is eligible for UK citizenship through her father’s Scottish heritage. Meanwhile, Senator Scott Ryan was elected on Monday as the new Senate President, replacing Senator Parry who also resigned over his dual citizenship. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has taken over Senator Ryan’s ministerial responsibilities until a formal replacement is chosen.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed the results of the same-sex marriage postal survey, with a majority of 61.6 per cent voting in favour of amending the Marriage Act to enable same-sex marriage. Described by Prime Minister Turnbull as a triumph for “commitment and love”, the result has sparked debate on how Parliament will now legislate the change, while balancing religious freedom. Senator Dean Smith’s private member’s bill – which has cross-party support – was introduced into the Senate on Thursday after a rival bill backed Liberal senator James Patterson was shelved. The legislation will be a major focus for the final parliamentary sitting fortnight for the year, which will commence in late November. See the media coverage here.

Early in the week, Mr Turnbull met with US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during his trip to the Philippines for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Mr Turnbull described the leaders as having “the same values and the same focus”, while Mr Trump said that “some very big steps in respect to trade” were taken during the leaders’ meeting. See the meeting transcript here.

The South Australian Government has abandoned its proposed Major Bank Levy on the big four banks and Macquarie, originally announced in the State Budget. Unable to pass the relevant legislation through the upper house, Premier Jay Weatherill has attributed the decision to drop the levy to Opposition leader Steven Marshall, accusing him of “taking the side of the banks over the people of South Australia”. See the media coverage here.

Victorians will go to the polls this weekend in a by-election for the lower house seat of Northcote. A tight race between Greens candidate Lidia Thorpe and Labor’s Clare Burns is expected in the inner city seat, which has been traditionally held by Labor. The by-election was triggered by the death of Labor MP Fiona Richardson, who held the seat by a margin of six per cent. See the media coverage here.

The NSW, WA, NT and Tasmanian parliaments will sit next week.


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