Reforms promised as live crisis deepens

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Live animal export is a minefield of policy complexity. On one hand, the welfare of animals must be considered and it’s also a critical source of revenue for farmers. On the other hand, those buying the livestock require them alive, as access to refrigeration is limited in some areas and cultural practices require the livestock to be slaughtered in a certain way.
The recent revelations concerning a shipment of live sheep to the middle east, which resulted in over 1,000 deaths outraged those in the sector, including the agricultural minister who labelled the scandal as ‘bullshit’. The sector has agreed to appoint an independent monitor with investigative powers, and the minister has asked his department for an explanation.
MP’s have already begun mustering support for ceasing the industry, with Susan Ley announcing the introduction of a private members that phase out the practice.
The report is due in a couple of weeks. #auspol #AusAg

Can you help us get to Canberra?

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As you read this, we are busily preparing for the 2018 Federal Budget.

It’s our third budget night and it will be the biggest one yet! For the first time, we’ll go live on Facebook to give you all the details.

Based out of Sydney, we travel to Canberra regularly to cover the action from Parliament House.

 This has become quite costly over the years – we are trying our hardest to not introduce advertising as we think it will ruin your experience.

So could you help us get to Canberra?

 We have a Gofundme page here.

All money raised will be spent on accommodation, transport and our annual website hosting costs. We’ll provide a full report on our expenditure after the budget, as we believe in accountability and transparency.

Any amount you could contribute would be awesome and helps us enormously, as we seek to give you the stories that matter to you. You can donate by clicking here

Happy to answer any of your questions over on our Facebook page.


Politics in a Paragraph

When could the next election be?

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Malcolm Turnbull has asked his state directors to finalise the preselections by June at the latest.

A few readers spotted this and asked us – when will the next election be? Here are some potential roadblocks for the PM as he makes his choice.

The Government needs four to six weeks to conduct a campaign. It’s a bit hamstrung as the half the Senate must be elected before the 18th of May next year. There’s also a traditional summer break to factor in and most importantly, two state elections.

A poll in Sep/Oct 2018 would be considered too early. A poll in May 2019 disrupts the Federal budget, and NSW runs the risk of suffering from ‘voter fatigue’ with 2 elections is in 3 months.

Note that this is the traditional model – we usually elect the full House and half of the Senate at each election. Turnbull could choose to just have a half senate election in this period, followed by the lower house at a later point but it would be quite expensive to do so.

The golden rule? Go when you think you can win.

AEC Electorate Shake-Up

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One of the jobs of the Electoral Commission is to ensure that each seat in the House of Representatives has an even amount of voters.

To ensure this, the AEC adjusts the boundaries of electorates and can abolish seats in some states because of population growth in others. Its a process know as redistribution.

The South Australian seat of Port Adelaide is to be abolished, with a new seat in Victoria created. Its MP Mark Butler is considering his options. Several electorates have been renamed, and an additional seat has been created for the ACT, taking the number in the House to 151.

The most interesting observation from the proposed changes is adjustments to the margins of several seats in Victoria. Seats considered safe and winnable for the Liberal Party are now marginal or even notional Labor.

The changes are open to public consultation and will be in effect from July 20.

#Auspol #elections #AEC

Labor’s Citizenship Nightmare

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Labor are nervously bracing for the next instalment of the Citizenship crisis – because they’re directly in the firing line.

ACT Senator Katy Gallagher has British heritage. She knew this at the time of the 2016 election, and submitted the renunciation paperwork before she nominated – but it wasn’t confirmed by the UK. Gallagher argues she had taken ‘all reasonable steps to renounce’ which is a key judgment from a previous High Court ruling.

In short, the High Court is considering the question ‘what is the definition of reasonable steps?’ Can it include waiting for a foreign power to complete the renunciation? Should a democratic process in Australia, be hampered by the administration of another country?

The High Court has traditionally been very strict in this area, and this is an important test case.

If Gallagher is booted by the court, it could spell disaster for Shorten as there are Labor MP’s in the same scenario – which would result in 4 by-elections, some of which were won by a handful of votes.

#Auspol #Citizenship #Labor

Cyclone Newspoll

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Federal Politics is bracing for Cyclone Newspoll, expected to make landfall early Monday morning. As you know we seldom focus on opinion polling – it rarely drives good public policy and is often used to fuel an unhelpful theatrical element of politics.

We’re making an exception today to note that 30 negative Newspoll results were used as a yardstick for mounting a challenge to the leadership of Tony Abbott in 2015 – in amongst a number of other issues that the then Communications Minister used to argue for a change in leadership.

So will the PM be booted on Monday?

Absolutely not. This will be an opportunity for a bit of anti-Turnbull ‘sniping’, and then we’ll all move on. For now.

#Auspol #Newspoll

How is the GST Distributed?

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Have you ever seen seagulls fighting over a hot chip? The same process is similar with Australia’s Treasurers. Let’s talk GST and the sexy subject of ‘Horisontal Fiscal Equalisation’.
The revenue is collected by the Federal Government and distributed to the states to pay for services like schools and hospitals. But the revenue that is collected in a specific state, doesn’t automatically return to it.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission is responsible for implementing a complex series of formulas that result in the GST being spread evenly across the nation. To do this it takes into account both the multitude of revenue sources each individual state and territory has, and the cost of funding those services.
In short, states performing well economically fund weaker states, to ensure the return is equal for each Australian, no matter which state they reside in. The distribution changes from year to year depending on how well each state performs.
The distribution announced yesterday included some major changes and begins to correct WA’s low return rate, which has been strongly objected to in the past. The Government will soon receive a report that is researching how to share the GST more evenly – but will everyone be happy? Maybe not.
#Auspol #GST

Australia Boots Russian Spies

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The first use of a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two has forced the Turnbull government to boot Russian spies, posing as diplomats from Australia. Similar action has been taken by other countries like the UK.
The Prime Minister explicitly named Russia as a country that is on notice for its intrusion into the domestic matters for other countries – elections in France, USA, Catalonia and the Brexit referendum are all currently being assessed for Russian interference.
The Turnbull government is working on updating Australia’s espionage laws for the modern era and will consider Russia’s actions in the international community.

Michael McCormack elected Nationals leader as Joyce saga ends

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#Breaking Michael McCormack has been elected the new Leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister.
He won the contest from late entrant into the race – George Christiansen!
Born in Wagga Wagga, Michael has been the member for Riverina since 2010. A former journalist, he is currently the Veterans Affairs Minister, and will enter the cabinet for the first time, possibly as the minister for Small Business.
His elevation comes as Dr David Gillespe withdrew from the contest yesterday as well as David Littleproud, who was canvassing support as late as last night.
Barnaby Joyce now sits on the backbench.

Joyce matters implode as Nationals Partyroom supports leader

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Truth be told, we haven’t written anything about Barnaby this week as each time we got close, the situation exploded again.
Together with the improper employment allegations of his new partner, Joyce has faced further pressure over receiving a house rent free for 6 months. The owner of the house, offered him this to him as a gift, noting his personal circumstances. The pair are friends.
Labor has uncovered that the owner of the house also owns a hotel in Armidale, which the government has used for functions in the past, paid for by the taxpayer. 

This new set of questions revealed on Thursday came at a point where tensions inside the Nationals were beginning to simmer.

Mr Joyce is now on personal leave next week. All reports from Nationals HQ is that they are solidly behind him as the leader.