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.

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.

Brandis resigns from the Senate to become the UK High Commissioner

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After more than a decade in the Parliament, George Brandis resigned as a Senator on Wednesday.

A victim of the cabinet reshuffle last December, Mr Brandis will become the next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

In his valedictory speech that traversed many topics, Mr Brandis called upon his colleges to return to the classical forms of liberalism and keep a watchful eye on further attacks on Australia’s institutions.

This was no doubt a subtle elbow to the ribs for the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who took responsibility for several security organisations off the Attorney General’s Department.

Mr Brandis listed his two greatest achievements in office – the passing of the Same-Sex Marriage bills and the newly created counter Terrorism legislation.

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

Child Abuse Royal Commission wraps up after 5 years

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The Prime Minister announced this week the nation will formally apologise to victims of child sexual abuse, later in the year.
 
This follows the conclusion of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which heard the stories of more than 8,000 people and undertook 57 case studies.
 
The Federal Government is also working with the States, victim support groups and institutions to pull together a national redress scheme, which will commence in July.

Same Sex Marriage hits the lower house

 

The same sex marriage legislation has hit the lower house and is expected to pass this week.

During a second reading debate, members can speak for up to 15 minutes as the House considers any bill.

As you can imagine, many members are using this time to share stories from their electorates as well as their reflections on the whole debate. The House has extended its sittings for the week.

The amendments to add religious and freedom of conscience protections are set to fail, mainly because Labor has bound its members to vote no to all of them.

We’ll keep you in the loop when the bill is passed. Attached are two graphics, showing the strongest results from the survey.

Australia Votes Yes

Marriage Survey Results - National and State (1)

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)

Pressure on Shorten over Donations

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The pressure is on Bill Shorten today to reveal key details about donations made to GetUp! when he was leader of the Australian Workers Union.

Its been revealed that GetUp! relied on large donations from the AWU and the Registered Organisations Commission is investigating whether the decade old donations were made legally – with approval from the board of the AWU.

The investigation has ignited a furious debate in parliament, after the Federal Police raided the offices of the AWU yesterday.