GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Government loses Banks to crossbench

30 November 2018
  • The PM’s popularity is up, according to the polls, while the Coalition continues to lag behind Labor, ahead of the final parliamentary sitting week of the year.
  • Liberal MP Julia Banks has announced she will leave the Liberal Party to sit on the crossbench, further diminishing the Government’s numbers in the House of Representatives.
  • The PM and Finance Minister are headed to the G20 meeting in Argentina, following a tough week in Parliament.
  • The Federal Budget will be handed down on 2 April 2019, while MYEFO will be delivered on 17 December 2018.
  • Labor has welcomed a landslide win at the Victorian State Election, with Premier Daniel Andrews unveiling a revamped ministry yesterday. Matthew Guy will step down as Leader of the Opposition.
PM’s poll boost

The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen for a third consecutive poll to reach a near-record low of 34 per cent. Results of the latest Newspoll reveal the Government continues to trail Labor on a two-party preferred basis, 45-55, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison has doubled his lead over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as preferred PM and recorded a significant four-point jump in approval ratings.

Government’s numbers tested in the House 

The Government had a trying week in the House of Representatives – its first sitting week as a minority government – dealing with a push by the crossbench to establish a national integrity commission; the resignation of Liberal MP Julia Banks; the aftermath of the Coalition’s Victorian State Election loss; and an attempt by the Opposition to suspend standing orders. Prime Minister Morrison and Finance Minister Matthias Cormann are headed to the G20 meeting in Argentina today, where issues such as anti-corruption, education, climate and energy are on the agenda. The final sitting week of the year is expected to create further headaches for the Government, with crossbenchers flaggingplans to introduce a raft of bills.

Banks leaves Liberals

In an unanticipated move, Liberal MP Julia Banks announced her decision to leave Liberal ranks and sit on the crossbench, citing concerns over the party’s treatment of women; recent “dark days” during the leadership spill; and internal division over energy and climate change. Her departure will reduce the Government’s numbers in the House of Representatives to only 74 seats. On the ousting of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the member for Chisholm said that “the coup was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, preselection endorsements or silence”. In further unwelcome news for the Government, conservative Liberal MP Craig Kelly is also reportedly considering quitting the Liberal Party amid concerns over his preselection.

Budget date announced as next election looms

Australians are expected to head to the polls next May, following this week’s announcement that the Federal Budget will be handed down on 2 April 2019. In a joint press conference with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, PM Scott Morrison said the Government intends to deliver a surplus Budget on 2 April, while confirming that the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) will be handed down on 17 December 2018. The Government has also released the 2019 parliamentary sitting calendar, amid criticismfrom the Opposition that there are too few sitting weeks before the Budget.

Labor landslide in Victoria

Labor has celebrated a resounding victory following Saturday’s State Election and is currently predicted to win a minimum of 52 seats in the 88-seat Legislative Assembly. Less than a week later, Matthew Guy has announced he will step down as leader of the Victorian Opposition, with senior party members John Pesutto and Michael O’Brien tipped to replace Mr Guy. Leader of the Victorian Nationals Peter Walsh has indicated he will remain in his role. The Greens have also suffered, predicted to lose up to four of the party’s five Upper House seats.

Looking ahead

The Federal, Queensland, SA, WA, NT and Tasmanian parliaments will sit next week. The 2019 federal parliamentary sitting calendar is available here.


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