By-election bonanza

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Three Labor MP’s and a Centre Alliance MP resigned moments ago, following the crystal clear judgement from the High Court.
They will all recontest their seats at by-elections, with the dates are yet to be set. They are likely to be joined by WA MP Tim Hammond, who announced his resignation for family reasons last week.
This will be the first time in the nation’s history that 5 by-elections are contested in one day.

Gallagher ruled ineligible as the spotlight turns to Labor MP’s

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The nightmare citizenship scenario for Labor is a reality – the High Court has booted Katy Gallagher and made it clear that a member of parliament must fully complete the citizenship process prior to the election.

Ms Gallagher has been ruled ineligible to sit as a Senator for the ACT, after her situation was used as a test case by the major parties to unpack what the definition of taking ’reasonable steps’ was with regard to renouncing citizenship of another country.

The pressure is now on Labor as up to 3 Labor lower house MP’s and a Centre Alliance MP could now be heading to the ballot box. Labor are considering whether they will ask their MP’s to resign, or take their cases to the court, which will drag this on for several months.

In one of several judgements, judges argued that the renunciation needs to be completed before polling day.

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!

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

Dual Citizenship scandal continues as Lamb details missing documents

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Susan Lamb has detailed why she hasn’t been able to clarify her citizenship.

The marginal Queensland MP claims she is unable to access her parent’s marriage certificate as her father has died and she has been estranged from her mother since childhood.
But within minutes of the speech, journalists clarified with Queensland authorities that she could have access to the marriage certificate due to ‘exceptional circumstances’.
This, together with the fact that The Australian has tracked down her estranged mother, who has confirmed she is willing to obtain the documents, points to more of a delaying tactic, rather than a genuine roadblock.

Her statement hasn’t shifted anyone in the Government – they may still refer her to the High Court. #auspol

Dual Citizenship – Round Two

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We’re in the final stretches of busting dual citizens in the federal parliament and one thing is for certain – it’s not looking pretty.

Following the publication of the citizenship register, up to 20 MP’s fall into the following categories:

– Some MP’s indicated they had renounced, but the date was after the close on nominations for the 2016 election.
– Some MP’s believed they renounced, but could not find the relevant papers.
– Some MP’s indicated they had connections to another country, but did not provide any documentation that confirmed or denied potential citizenship.

The next step will be for the parliament to refer the MP’s with questionable circumstances to the High Court, who will decide if they need to be booted.

The High Court would likely rule on all the cases in March, meaning that we could be heading to a ‘Super Saturday’ of by-elections in April.

This should be all over by May 2018. We promise.

Dastyari resigns over Chinese connections. Again.

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Bill Shorten has asked Sam Dastyari to resign over his links to Chinese donors. Again.

He will remain a Senator for NSW.

The resignation comes following fresh revelations of his connections to a Chinese businessman living in Australia, who is actively involved with the Chinese Communist Party.

In December last year Dastyari was busted for having several legal and travel bills paid for by Huang Xiangmo. During the 2016 election, Dastyari spoke at a press conference when he made comments on the South Chinese Sea Dispute that were contrary to Labor Party policy.

These comments are connected to a $400,000 donation Mr Huang made to Labor shortly after.

Dastyari said these comments on the dispute were ‘garbled and off the cuff’. In the last 24 hours, the ABC released audio of that press conference for Chinese language media that made it clear that the remarks were scripted

In addition to this, it’s reported that Sam told Mr Huang that his phone may have been tapped by American and Australian Authorities.

Yesterday’s revelations appear to be the final straw.

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.

Never a slow news day in Canberra

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All these things have taken place before lunchtime

1) The Bennelong by-election date has been set – December 16. The MP re-contesting had no idea the date had been set when speaking with the media later in the day.

2) The major parties have agreed on a citizenship register. Documents must be submitted by December 1 and it now includes grandparents as well as parents.

3) Three new senators have been sworn in (2 Greens and Hanson).

4) The Hanson Senator defected from One Nation less than 20 minutes after being sworn in. He’s an independent now.

5) Jacqui Lambie may resign, she is clarifying if she is Scottish or not.

6) Trump canceled a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull (reasons unknown).

7) Senator James Patterson has released a conservative bill to legislate for same sex marriage that includes extensive protections for religious folks and parents.

8) Scott Ryan is the new Senate president. He resigned from the ministry.

(Edit: Trump and Turnbull will now have dinner together)