A ‘senior advisor’ of Michaelia Cash has plunged the Turnbull Government into crisis by tipping the media off to the raid conducted by the Federal Police of the Australian Workers Union. This is despite the minister indicating on 5 seperate occasions yesterday that she had no knowledge of the media tip-off.
As we posted yesterday, the Registered Organisations Commission was searching for evidence to confirm that a $100,000 donation from the AWU to GetUp! was processed legally. It’s been revealed a media advisor inside an independent government organisation may have revealed this to Cash’s staffer.
This is now developing into a serious issue for the Turnbull government. Taking into account the AFP raids for NBN documents during last year’s election campaign, Labor is set to argue a strong case that media staff inside an independent government organisation have been acting in a political manner.
The Senate committee resumes today.
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.
The High Court has ruled that the government’s same-sex marriage postal survey is legal, throwing out both cases seeking to stop it.
The full bench found no issues with the government using the ‘Advance to the finance minister’ to pay for it, and asking the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct the survey was acceptable. Due to the rushed nature of the case, the High Court will publish its full reasons at a later date. The decision means that the survey will go ahead.
Survey forms will be sent to households from September 12. They must be returned by November 7. The result will be released on November 15 at 11:30am. If the majority vote is ‘yes,’ a conscience vote will be conducted through the parliament, via a private members bill. If the majority vote is ‘no,’ there will be no parliamentary vote.
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.
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’.