GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: Government ‘Re-Joyces’ in final sitting week
The Prime Minister has renewed calls for Labor senator Sam Dastyari to quit Parliament, alleging he put the security of the nation at risk in his dealings with a foreign political donor. Amid the debate, the Government has announced a package of legislative reforms to address “unprecedented” foreign interference and espionage in Australia. In a joint statement with Attorney-General George Brandis and Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that political interference by foreign entities is a growing threat to national security and commercial interests, and that Australia’s existing espionage laws are inadequate. On Thursday, the Attorney-General moved to refer Senator Dastyari to the Senate Privileges Committee to investigate whether he has breached the rules governing MPs’ conduct.
After 55 hours of debate across both houses of Parliament, same-sex marriage legislation has passed the House of Representatives this week with a resounding vote in favour of change. With only four MPs voting against the legislation, no formal count of the final vote was required, and all proposed amendments were rejected. The Prime Ministerdeclared the day a “huge success” and a “day of joy”; Opposition Leader Bill Shorten reflected that the new law “will speak for a modern Australia, inclusive and fair”. Attorney-General George Brandis has confirmed that the law will define marriage as a “union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”; Australia becomes the 26th country to legalise same-sex unions. Both Treasurer Scott Morrison and former PM Tony Abbott were among the few MPs who chose to abstain from the final vote. See the media coverage here.
Results of the recent federal MP citizenship audit have been announced this week, revealing a number of doubts over parliamentarians’ eligibility to sit in Parliament. Labor senator Katy Gallagher has referred herself to the High Court after it was revealed she may have been ineligible to serve at the time of her nomination in 2016. Labor backbencher David Feeney has likewise been referred, while the citizenship status of a further eight MPs has been called into question – outlined in the table below. Labor and the crossbench voted to refer all eight MPs to the High Court, but the motion was opposed by the Coalition, leaving their status in doubt for the present time. See the media coverage here.
The Victorian Parliament will sit next week.