Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has this afternoon been ruled ineligible to sit in Parliament under section 44 of the Constitution, putting the Government’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives at risk. Four other parliamentarians have also been disqualified, including Senators Roberts, Waters, Nash and Ludlam; while only senators Xenophon and Canavan were found to be in the clear. As a result of Mr Joyce’s disqualification, a by-election will be held in his NSW electorate of New England. Addressing the media moments ago, Barnaby Joyce has apologised to those in his electorate for the “inconvenience” and confirmed a by-election will be held as soon as possible, likely on or around 2 December 2017. Mr Joyce offered his support to Nationals Deputy Leader Fiona Nash, who was also found to be ineligible. Her seat is set to go to the next person on the Coalition’s NSW Senate ticket. See the media coverage here.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)Melbourne and Sydney offices this week, on behalf of the Registered Organisation Commission, an independent regulatory body for unions and related groups. The raids reportedly form part of an investigation into donations made to Labor campaigns and activist organisation GetUp! in 2005-06, while Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was AWU Secretary. Mr Shorten described the inference of corruption as the actions of “an increasingly desperate government”, while Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull said that Mr Shorten had “questions to answer” over the donations. On Wednesday afternoon, a senior media adviser to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash announced his resignation and admitted to alerting media sources ahead of the AFP raids, allowing reporters to document the event. Hours earlier, Minister Cash had denied during a Senate Estimates hearing that the leak came from her office, leading to allegations she misled the Parliament and calls for her resignation. It was confirmed today that the AFP will formally investigate the media leak from Minister Cash’s office. See the media coverage here.
Bill Shorten has announced a minor reshuffle to his Shadow Ministry this week, following frontbencher Kate Ellis’ March 2017 decision to vacate her seat at the next election. Notably, Matt Thistlethwaite has been appointed the first Shadow Assistant Minister for an Australian Head of State, reflecting Labor’s commitment to the republican movement. As part of the changes, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek will take on responsibility for Training; Senator Doug Cameron will add TAFE to his portfolio; and Amanda Rishworth will move to the Shadow Cabinet with responsibility for Early Childhood Education and Development, in addition to her existing Veterans’ Affairs duties. See the media coverage here.
The Productivity Commission has released its report into Australia’s productivity performance. The report makes a wide range of recommendations to promote greater productivity across the country, including improvements in healthcare; greater focus on improving educational outcomes for students; and changes to taxes on land. Treasurer Scott Morrison underscored the “wide range of policies” the Government is currently pursuing to support productivity, which will “secure the better days ahead”. See the media release here.
CommSec’s State of the Statesreport was released this week, ranking the performance of all states and territories over the most recent quarter. The report analyses key factors across the jurisdictions, including economic growth; business investment; construction work; unemployment; and population changes. The results revealed NSW to rank first in performance, with Victoria positioned second. South Australia notably improved its performance from sixth to fourth place since the last quarter, while Western Australia continued to trail all other jurisdictions with the lowest national results. See the media coverage here.
The Victorian, SA, WA, ACT and Tasmanian parliaments will sit next week.