Review: Clinton and Trump go head to head in first debate

trump__clintonWith the Presidential race in full swing, the first of three debates concluded a short time ago. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton went head to head with Republican nominee Donald Trump for the first time and the pair traversed many topics including trade, cost of living, taxation, race relations, online security, ISIS and international affairs.

Hillary Clinton began the debate very strong and grew comfortable as the hour and a half rolled along. Despite being the first to degrade her opponent with a personal attack on his wealth, Mrs Clinton pursued him on issues such as his tax returns, race relations and his loose use of facts in certain issues. Hillary spent time juxtaposing her tax policy against Trumps and rallied against “trumped up trickle-down economics.” Clinton faced pressure as trump sought to raiser her email scandal into the debate, which attracted a large reaction from the audience. 

Donald Trump also began strong and managed to align the debate to the values which he has been discussing for some time; the economy, the nation’s debt, manufacturing and job creation. However the debate began to unroll at around the 30 minute mark, when he remarked that “Hillary has been fighting ISIS her whole life.” The comment was a perplexing one, seeing as though ISIS has only been in existence since 2014. Towards the end Trump would interrupt the moderator to speak for minutes at a time to “correct the record” on his tax affairs and his support of the Iraq war, leaving him to look under-prepared in what presented as an untidy monologue.   

 

The next debate will take place on October 10. In coming weeks we will publish several stories on the American election, to give you an insider look at why it’s not going to be easy for Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States of America.

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Backpacker tax slashed

applesWhen the Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered his first budget in May, a few issues caused concern for his backbench. One of those was a hike in the income tax that was required to be paid for international backpackers looking for work whilst holidaying. Morrison announced this morning that following consultation, the rate of tax would be slashed from 32% to 19%.

Morrison has been quite adamant in stating that if the tax was to be slashed, revenue must be found from somewhere else; the government will make up the shortfall by increasing the passenger movement charge by $5 as well as changes to international superannuation. Morrison announced the changes together with a reduction in the cost of applying for a working visa. The changes are designed to encourage more backpackers to come to Australia.

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Turnbull increases refugee intake

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Turnbull speaking at the UN

The Prime Minister is in New York this week attending the United Nations summit on refugees. The summit is attempting to tackle how to look after the more than 65 million refugees who are across the globe. On the world stage Australia is not particularly seen in a positive light when it comes to immigration issues, due to our mandatory detention policies that are currently in place (i.e. the camps at Manus Island and Nauru).

Whilst speaking to the UN General assembly, Malcolm Turnbull announced Australia will boost its commitment to resettling refugees, by increasing the number we take annually by 5,000, to 19,000 refugees per year. An additional 130 million dollars will also be given to the UN to assist with humanitarian work. Most interestingly, Turnbull announced his government will house refugees from central America.

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Leadership contest over with decisive Barnett victory

The state Liberal party met in Western Australia this morning and squashed the attempts of a few troublemakers who wanted to unseat the Premier. The result was a clear victory for Colin Barnett who won the day 31 votes to 15. The challenger Dean Nalder, a former minister, now sits on the back bench after the entire cabinet swung behind the Premier to endorse him as leader ahead of the March 2017 state election. The large margin of 16 votes will keep Barnett’s detractors very quiet; a defeated Nalder declared subsequently that Barnett “was the captain of the team.”

For all the hype created over the last week, the spill contest turned out to be a non-event. Move along people!

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WA Liberals sharpen knives for leadership stoush

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Former Minister Dean Nalder and Premier Colin Barnett. 

The State Liberal Government in Western Australia is preparing to tear itself apart, with a likely leadership spill vote on Tuesday – just six months out from the state election. The Premier Colin Barnett is on the nose, with tensions in marginal seats and increasing public spats with ministers and his backbench members. Barnett’s management of the Government is being called into question, with former minister Helen Morton indicating that Barnett accepted the practise of “bullying, intimidation and demoralising his ministers” by his departments staff.

The catalyst for the likely leadership vote has come with the resignations of ministers Tony Simpson on Friday and Dean Nalder on Saturday. Mr Nalder, who was the Government’s minister for transport, admits he has being attempting to have a one on one meeting with the Premier to discuss projects for more than six months, without success (which is highly unusual). If a leadership motion was brought forward on Tuesday, Mr Nalder indicated today that he would stand as a candidate – all but confirming that this week in WA will not be a smooth one.
Many MP’s inside marginal electorates have become increasingly annoyed at the fact that they cannot obtain access to the parties’ official polling on marginal seats – which manifests itself into a nervous backbench. This has led to a number of MP’s seeking assistance from members of the business community to fund polling which showed their seats would be lost under a Barnett Government. However the latest opinion polls put the Barnett Government at a 50/50 chance of retaining Government in March – a marked increased from recent polls.
A leadership spill on Tuesday may help or hinder that – stay tuned.

Coalition confirms plebiscite details

Australia Holds Federal ElectionWe’ve written countless articles on the Coalition’s marriage plebiscite. As it stands it’s impossible for the plebiscite legislation to pass  without the assistance of Labor, who are still yet to formally announce they will vote for it. The Prime Minister has indicated that the legislation will be introduced tomorrow or Thursday, forcing Labor’s hand quicker than expected..

 

The Coalition cabinet and party room have met to confirm the details. Here’s the Government’s plan in a nutshell:

  • Should the legislation pass, the vote will be on the 11th of February, 2017.
  • The question will be “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
  • There will be a pre-polling, declaration and postal voting period, consistent with normal elections.
  • Voting will be compulsory, and a simple ‘50% +1’ majority will be required for victory.
  • National ‘yes’ and ‘no’ committees will be established, consisting of five cross-party MP’s and five ‘citizens’ appointed by the Attorney General. This is a similar structure to the 1999 Republican referendum.
  • 7.5 million dollars will be given to the to fund the national ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns.
  • The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns will be given DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status, meaning Australians can make a tax-deductible donation of up to $1,500 to the campaign.
  • A three day blackout period will take place just like normal elections.
  • Anti-discrimination laws will not be suspended for the campaign.
  • In the event of a yes vote, the Attorney General George Brandis will introduce legislation to amend the marriage act as soon as parliament sits after the vote.

The ball is now firmly in Bill Shorten and Labor’s court.

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Dastyari accused of “cash for comment”

SamParliament may be in recess for the next fortnight, but the heat is still firmly on Labor Senator Sam Dastyari. Last week wasn’t the best for him, with revelations that Labor donors with connections to the Chinese Government have been busted paying his legal and travel bills. The matter unraveled with great speed, when he explained his actions and donated the amount charity. The charity rejected the donation and the incident rolled on.

While the media slammed the Senators actions (and we all had the traditional conversation about MP’s expenses), the Australian Financial Review did some digging and revealed that in June, Sam held a press conference with one of his donors in which he expressed an opinion on the territorial bunfight surrounding the South China Sea. The problem here is that his opinion aligns with China, whereas Labor’s official position is to follow the rulings of international courts on the issue (something which China rejects). Malcolm Turnbull spoke strongly on this issue saying that it appears that Dastyari has been caught in a “cash for comment” style scandal.

The Government can smell blood on this issue and they won’t be letting Sam off the hook.

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Minor party Senators condemn “dirty stitch up deal”

Senate

As you know the July 2 election sent the whole Senate to the polls instead of the half rotation that exists in the normal cycle. But who decides who gets a 3 year term and who gets a 6 year term? The Constitution basically says “the Senate should sort it out with a vote”, which results in the Coalition and Labor parties working together to squeeze the cross bench out in favour of the own Senators. The other way of selecting Senate terms comes through the Electoral Commission, who can be requested by the Senate to separate the count into two separate votes. This process was written into the electoral act in the 1980’s but unsurprisingly has never been taken up.

The deal between the major parties has been labelled as a disgrace and a “dirty stitch up” by Senator Derryn Hinch, who is headed to the polls in 2019, despite winning enough support to take a six-year place if the AEC counted 2 separate polls. Senators Nick Xenophon, Richard Di Natale and David Leyonhjelm also expressed disappointment with the deal.

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Marriage plebiscite legislation on extremely thin ice

Wedding cake 2For the plebiscite to take place, the parliament needs to pass what is known as ‘enabling legislation’. With the Greens indicating last week that they won’t support the bill through the Senate and Labor all but formally confirming their stance, the task of passing the bill came down to the support of Nick Xenophon’s Senators.

The Xenophon team has released a statement indicating they will not vote for a plebiscite – Xenophon said they will continue to push for a free vote in the parliament. However a free vote is simply not possible for the Government as the plebiscite was a key part of the Coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties. The Coalition would implode if Turnbull pushed in this direction.

The likely next step is now in Labor’s hands – if the plebiscite legislation fails and the government doesn’t allow a free vote, will Labor cave in and support a plebiscite or wait three years?

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Country Liberal Party thrown out of office in NT landslide

When folks in the Northern Territory play politics, it’s never lightly. For the first time in the NT’s history a government has been kicked out of office after just 4 years in power.

With more than 6o% of the vote counted the Country Liberal Party felt the full force of a 20% swing away from them. With a predicted 3 seats the outgoing Chief Minister described the result as a ‘thumping’. He lost his seat in the bloodbath. The voters in the top end have elected Labor’s Michael Gunner – who has won 18 seats out of a 25 seat parliament. Gunner becomes the NT’s first Chief Minister to be born from the Territory.

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