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.

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.

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

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.

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.

What happened over the summer?

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It’s great to be back in 2018!

Here’s a snapshot of what happened over the summer:

  • Citizenship: Jacqui Lambie has resigned (she’s Scottish) and the Liberal’s Jim Molan replaced Senator Fiona Nash today.
  • Susan Lamb, Josh Wilson, Justine Keay, Rebeka Sharkie and Jason Falinski still have questions to answer
  • John Alexander won the Bennelong by-election, following the discovery of his dual citizenship
  • Labor’s David Feeney has resigned as the member for Batman, setting up a Labor/Green by-election
  • Sam Dastyari resigned as a Senator, following too many unanswered questions about his connections to Chinese businessmen
  • His vacancy will be filled by Kristina Keneally, Labor’s unsuccessful candidate for Bennelong
  • Tasmania and South Australia are in election mode in state polls in a few weeks
  • Independent Senator Lucy Gichuhi has turned blue! She now sits as a Liberal Senator for South Australia
  • Lyle Shelton has quit the Australian Christian Lobby and has joined Cory Bernadi’s Australian Conservatives.
We’ll let you know if anything else happens!

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

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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.