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 – Round Two

Section 44 Cases

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.

Government Establishes Banking Royal Commission

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Australia’s big four banks have asked the Government for a Royal Commission into themselves. And the Turnbull Government has agreed.

Federal Cabinet met this morning and agreed to establish a Royal Commission that will report by February 1 2019, at a cost of 75 million dollars.

In a letter written to the government, the CEO’s of the four major banks say this is now in the ‘national interest’, despite warning that such a commission may bring reputational damage to the industry.

This comes after years of the Government rejecting such a proposal (including during the election).

The Commission will be into ‘Misconduct into the Financial Services Industry’ and will include cases studies into banks, wealth managers, superanuation companies and the industry. It will then offer recommendations to the Government.


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.

Same-sex postal survey faces high court hurdles

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This week the High Court will hear two challenges to the same-sex marriage postal survey. 

The government is paying for the survey via a special ‘advance to the finance minister,’ which enables Mathias Cormann to spend up to $295 millions dollars, but only if the matter is ‘of urgent need’ and is ‘unforeseen’, meaning that it wasn’t factored into the budget. 

This is the key question the High Court has to answer: Is the spending for the plebiscite ‘urgent’ and ‘unforeseen?’

Historically, the Court has been very strict on spending money. The golden rule is that government’s must have parliamentary approval before spending money, which to date has been impossible to obtain in the form of a plebiscite. 

It will be difficult to argue that the expenditure is ‘unforeseen’. Money has been allocated for a plebiscite in the last two federal budgets. A ‘postal plebiscite’ was raised by Peter Dutton in March. 

The High Court will make a decision on the temporary injunction by the end of the week.

Timeline for Plebiscites

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The Government has announced it will use the Australian Bureau of Statistics (the organisation that looks after the Census) to conduct a voluntary postal plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage.

It is expected that the compulsory plebiscite will be rejected in the Senate again, so the government will proceed with a voluntary plebiscite and is confident that it will succeed the impending High Court challenge.

The Government claims the Australian National Anthem plebiscite, conducted in 1974 by telephone, is an appropriate precedent that will enable them to spend the 120 million dollars required.

No public money will be spent on a yes or no cases. The campaign will last two months.

Possible outcomes from the Same Sex Marriage Party Meeting

The Liberal Party will meet today at 4pm to discuss their marriage policy. Here are the top three possible outcomes.

It’s suggested that the issue will be resolved by secret ballot. More to come.

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