Senate Committee Recommends Referendum on Dual Citizenship

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The Senate Committee that examines election issues has spent a considerable amount of time figuring out how best to ensure the citizenship crisis of this parliament never repeats itself.

In a report released today, the committee argues strongly that a referendum should be conducted to adjust section 44, following the introduction of dual citizenship in the 1970’s. More than half the nation possess some form of dual citizenship, meaning this is an issue that will not go away.

The report finds the members of our defence forces may possess dual citizenship, but not parliamentarians.

The Government argues that a referendum would be to difficult to win, and instead is working with the AEC to beef up the application process, which may include producing renunciation paperwork with a candidates application to stand for election.

Labor MP to resign sparking byelection

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Politics is tough on families and it can be especially brutal for MP’s who represent Western Australia.

For Tim Hammond, the MP of the city based electorate of Perth, it seems to have taken its toll. Elected in 2016, Tim has a young family of three kids – at a minimum, he spends 20 weeks of the year away from the family home, and many other commitments result in him travelling to the more populous eastern seaboard.

He announced today that he will shortly resign, in order to spend more time with his family. This means Labor will face a byelection for the reasonably safe seat of Perth – a poll Bill Shorten will hardly wish to face at the moment.

Mr Hammond will return to the WA legal bar, continuing his previous career practising law.

Best of luck!

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

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

Barnaby victorious in historic by-election result

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‘We’re getting the band back together!’ said Malcolm Turnbull, upon hearing the massive victory Barnaby Joyce received in the New England by-election.

And massive it was – a 7.3% swing towards him, and primary vote of 64%.

Historically, by-elections in government held seats since WWII have resulted in the Government feeling swings away from them. This is clearly in the opposite direction and is so for three reasons:

He is a popular member, with a prominent position inside the government
He did not have an opposition candidate that was well known.
It’s recognised that he’s in a difficult situation!

Barnaby will take his seat in the House of Representatives once the vote is formally declared. Next stop – Bennelong on December 16

Barnaby Joyce to face New England Voters Today

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Today the voters of New England will head to the ballot box, following Barnaby Joyce’s disqualification by the High Court over dual citizenship.
It is widely accepted that he will be returned as the member, but we may not know tonight, given the large number of candidates – 17!
The Deputy Prime Minister won his seat in the 2016 election with a primary vote of 52.9%.
That is expected to dip slightly, but he should win on preferences. The Bennelong by election is on December 16

Senate returns to consider Same Sex Marriage legislation

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The Senate has just resumed debating the Same Sex Marriage legislation. It will have until November 30 to pass it and the House of Representatives will then consider the legislation next Monday. It’s expected that the bill encounter some resistance, and several amendments.
Here is some interesting data coming out of the survey results:
1. 17 out of 150 electorates voted no – the majority were Labor seats in Western Sydney, which are highly multi-cultural.
2. Females voted in greater numbers than males (females aged 18-74 returned more ballots than males).
3. The lowest turnout came from the NT at just 58%, the highest was the ACT at 82.4%
4. All but one Nationals electorate votes yes, busting the myth that the bush is morally conservative.
5. Every age bracket voted yes, busting the myth that older voters would stack the result for ‘No’.
6. Younger generations participated in far greater numbers than expected.
7. A majority of voters and 100% of the States and Territories voted yes – the results show that it would have passed Australia’s highest test (a referendum to change the constitution).

Australia Votes Yes

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Australians have voted ‘YES’ to changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry.

With response rate of just under 80% ,the survey has more authority than the Brexit vote (72%), the Irish same sex referendum (60%) and the poll that elected Donald Trump (56%).

So where to from here? From today, it’s now a battle for the marriage bills.

The Turnbull government will allow Senator Dean Smith to put up a private members bill for debate. It is expected that it will almost certainly pass. Using a private members bill will by-pass debate in the government party room.

Senator James Patterson has put up his own bill that includes additional protections for business owners to refuse services for same sex marriage celebrations. It is expected that this bill will not pass, but elements of this bill will try to be amended into the Smith bill.

Senator Dean Smith will kick off the debate in the Senate tomorrow.

Turnbull weeds out remaining dual citizens

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There’s good news and bad news for Malcolm Turnbull.

The good news is that he has found a way to fix the citizenship crisis.

The bad news is that he may loose his government altogether.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will seek to pass resolutions that will demand MP’s declare if they are dual citizens.

MP’s and senators will be given 21 days to declare if they are dual citizens in a new register similar to the ones they use to disclose financial interests. The register will ask for their place of birth, and that of their parents.

If they declare they are dual citizens they must provide documentation. The only issue now is one of timing:

  • Parliament has one sitting week left, meaning that MP’s could declare if they are dual citizens during the summer break
  • Parliament then doesn’t sit until February, where they would be referred to the High Court
  • The High Court would hand down a verdict in March/April, with by-elections in May.

The crisis would end by June, almost a year since the first MP reveal he had an issue.