GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Citizenship Standoff

10 November 2017
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten this week to discuss a potential resolution to the ongoing citizenship debate, as further MPs are drawn into the scandal. Mr Turnbull proposed a 21-day deadline for MPs to disclose their citizenship details, while asserting that the process does not amount to an audit. Labor wants to deal with the issue before Parliament rises for the year and has sent a letter to the PM with a number of proposed amendments to the disclosure process, including the requirement that all MPs provide their citizenship details by Friday 1 December 2017. Questions have been raised about the citizenship status of Labor MPs Justine Keay and Susan Lamb, along with Liberal backbencher John Alexander, Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie and the Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekha Sharkie. The Senate resumes next week; the PM is yet to rule out scheduling extra sitting days in an attempt to resolve the citizenship saga before the end of the year. See a transcript of the PM’s press conference here and a copy of the Opposition’s letter here.

Following Stephen Parry’s resignation last week, several senators have put themselves forward to fill the vacant Senate President role ahead of a vote on Monday. Special Minister of State Scott Ryan, along with Liberal senators Dean SmithDavid Fawcett and Ian Macdonald have nominated for the senior position. While the replacement will be determined by the Liberal party room, Nationals senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams has also signalled his interest in the role, along with Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson. If elected, Whish-Wilson has pledged to donate his additional salary to charity. See the media coverage here.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has announced the results of a recount for the senate spots previously occupied by those recently ruled ineligible by the High Court to sit in Parliament. Replacing former Deputy Nationals leader Senator Fiona Nash will be Liberal Hollie Hughes; former Australian Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett will replace Greens senator Larissa Waters; Malcolm Roberts will be replaced by One Nation’s Fraser Anning; and disability advocate Jordon Steele-John will replace the Greens’ Scott Ludlam in WA. It is understood that Ms Hughes will not be sworn in on Monday alongside the other new senators, due to a potential conflict of interest with her previous appointment to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. According to media reports, the High Court may be required to determine Ms Hughes’ eligibility over the coming week. See the media coverage here.

Prime Minister Turnbull has announced a new trade agreement with Peru, soon after arriving at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Vietnam. The agreement will reduce tariffs affecting exports from Australia. The PM will reportedly advocate for an 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at APEC, calling on world leaders to “embrace trade and turn their backs on protectionism”. Mr Turnbull will next travel to the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the Philippines, and then on to Hong Kong to attend negotiations on the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement. See the media release here.

On the campaign trail in Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week indicated her Government will veto Adani’s $1 billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan application for the construction of a rail line between the Galilee Basin and the Abbot Point port. In response, Prime Minister Turnbull  described the Premier’s actions as “an absolutely disgraceful abdication of responsibility”. While touring the electorates of Bundaberg, Burnett and Hervey Bay this week, Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls indicated his party will release costings for its election commitments in the final week of the election campaign. Mr Nicholls confirmed that “managing the budget over the cycle” is the party’s goal, rather than restoring the State’s AAA credit rating. He has also declared his support for the $1 billion NAIF loan to Adani. Later this week, the Queensland Government released its plan to boost manufacturing jobs. For further information on the Queensland election, see GRACosway’s briefing note here.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has confirmed that 78.5 per cent of eligible voters returned their same-sex marriage survey form, with the results of the survey set to be announced next Wednesday. Following the conclusion of the survey this week, Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi has called on the Government to postpone a conscience vote should the ‘Yes’ vote prevail, to first settle the citizenship debate. See the media coverage here.

The Federal, NSW, Victorian, Queensland, SA, and Tasmanian parliaments will sit next week.


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