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.

 

Postal Vote Court Challenge Day Two

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 Chief Justice Susan Kieflel will hand down its decision regarding the same-sex marriage postal survey tomorrow at 2:15pm. During question time!

The government defended their case firstly by arguing that Independent MP Andrew Wilkie does not have ‘standing’ (you must demonstrate that the case effects you, thus having standing).

The government noted that the ‘advance to the finance minister’ has paid for many things in the past, such as arts programs and sporting facility upgrades. They argued the survey in this case is no different.

The government’s distinction between the legality to use the advance to the finance minister and the legality of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to collect this type of information was also argued, designed to establish a potential scenario to fit the survey if it all falls over. 

If the High Court rules that using the advance was illegal, but collecting the statistic isn’t the government could continue its plans to conduct the survey, but find the money to fund it must come via the ABS. 

The government could create a smaller (thus cheaper) sample size if electors, or even reduce the services of the ABS for the financial year to fully pay for the survey. The later is unlikely, as the $122 million dollar survey would swallow a third of the ABS budget.

Another odd argument from the government was the definition between a ‘vote’ or ‘survey’. The government considers this is a ‘survey’ because it ‘lacks the ability to direct any particular outcome’. This is a difficult to argue, considering that the government is arguing that the outcome of the survey is a free vote in the parliament. 

High Court Challenge day one

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Here’s a quick update of the High Court challenge to the postal survey. For most of today, the court discussed whether the survey was ‘urgent and unforeseen’.
 
The government argued that it requires an answer to the survey question by November 15 (a self imposed deadline), thus fulfilling the ‘urgent’ requirement to spend the money.
 
The opposing argument was that ‘urgent’ refers to whether the parliament was available at the time to pass the appropriate law to spend the money. Parliament was sitting.
 
The government argued that the survey was not allocated for in the budget and together with the fact that cabinet approved the policy in early August, it was ‘unforeseen’. The challengers highlighted the fact that the survey was being considered by some ministers since March.
 
There were also more technical aspects debated, such as:
 
– Can the Finance Minister use his advance to pay for the plebiscite? It was argued that the advance pays for departmental expenses, not policy expenses.
– Does the Australian Bureau of Statistics have the power to collect opinions on such a large scale?
– Can the Australian Electoral Commission give the information of silent voters to the Australian Bureau of Statistics?
 
The hearing will continue tomorrow. The court will rule before the end of the week.