GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM Morrison finishes first sitting week
14 September 2018
- This week’s Newspoll has delivered another blow to the Coalition despite a boost in PM Morrison’s personal support.
- Parliament returned for the first sitting week under Prime Minister Morrison and the new frontbench.
- Outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks has called for gender quotas in the Liberal Party to improve the level of female representation in the Parliament.
- Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton continues to face scrutiny on two fronts.
- The Wentworth by-election will be held on 20 October.
Newspoll delivers mixed messages
The latest Newspoll shows that, despite a significant boost in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s personal standing, on current projections the Coalition stands to lose up to 30 seats at the next election. Voters seem to have quickly taken to Mr Morrison after only two weeks in the job as he now leads in the preferred PM stakes 42 per cent to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s 36 per cent. The Government’s two-party preferred vote tells a different story, with the Coalition trailing behind Labor 44 per cent to 56 per cent, an unchanged result from the previous fortnight when Mr Morrison first took over as PM.
Morrison fronts Parliament for first time as PM
Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced his first sitting week in the PM’s chair when Parliament returned on Monday for the first time since the Liberal leadership spill. The usual colour and drama of Parliament was certainly not in short supply with the Opposition almost immediately attempting to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives over the instability and infighting in the Government.
New seating arrangements and a new (old) face in the Senate
The resumption of Parliament has also seen some minor changes in both chambers. As a raft of new ministers took their places on the frontbenches for the first time, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop moved to her new spot on the backbench while NSW Nationals MP Kevin Hogan has moved to the crossbench, but will continue to support the Government on confidence and supply. Over in the Senate there is a new, albeit familiar, face as Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters returned to the upper house after 14 months out of the Parliament. She replaces Andrew Bartlett, who will run for the lower house seat of Brisbane at the next election. Waters is the first Section 44 dual-citizen casualty to return to the Senate; she was found ineligible in July 2017.
Parties prepare for by-election battle
House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith has confirmed voters in Sydney’s eastern suburbs will go to the polls on Saturday October 20 to elect a replacement for former PM Malcolm Turnbull in the seat of Wentworth. Overnight, the Liberal Party confirmed former ambassador Dave Sharma won the party’s preselection for the blue ribbon seat. This comes after early Liberal front-runner Andrew Bragg pulled out of the preselection race in order to pave the way for a woman candidate, a position that Prime Minister Morrison also reportedly supported.
Banks bites back
While the Coalition attempts to heal the wounds of the past few weeks, outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks used a late evening speech in the House of Representatives to call for gender quotas in her party while continuing to attack the “culture of appalling behaviour” that she claimed is prevalent in the parliament. Ms Banks, who has already announced she will not recontest her marginal Victorian seat at the next election, said the Federal Parliament was a decade behind the business world in promoting women to leadership positions.
The au pair affair continues
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton continues to face scrutiny as he battles continuing criticism of his handling of visas for au pairs as well as allegations that he may not be eligible to sit in parliament. Minister Dutton used parliamentary privilege to question the character and integrity of former Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, after he made a submission to an ongoing Senate inquiry investigating Mr Dutton’s ministerial intervention in a number of visa cases. On a separate front, Minister Dutton is also facing calls to have his eligibility to sit in Parliament referred to the High Court due to his interest in childcare centres which receive money from the Commonwealth, a potential breach of the constitution. Former Prime Minister Malcolm has weighed in on the matter from New York, saying the uncertainty must be clarified.
Wagga Wagga voters whack Coalition
Independent Dr Joe McGirr has won the NSW state seat of Wagga Wagga after the Liberal and Labor parties conceded defeat following Saturday’s poll. The Liberal Party suffered a swing of 30 per cent in the seat they had previously held for more than 60 years, with Premier Berejiklian attributing the loss to the turmoil in the federal Liberal Party.
The Federal, NSW, Victorian, Queensland, South Australian, West Australian, ACT and Tasmanian Parliaments are sitting next week. South Australia will also hold budget estimates.