Minister says if high court rejects postal survey the Coalition will ‘cross that bridge at that point in time’
That will do us for today I reckon. Thanks very much for your company. It’s always appreciated. Thanks to Mike Bowers and to the Politics Live brains trust today: Paul Karp and Chris Knaus.
We’ll be back tomorrow, from early till late, because that’s how Politics Live rolls.
A couple more before I take stock with an evening summary.
The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, after giving an update on North Korea.
A bit more Bowers now that we can hear ourselves think.
I love this shot from question time.
I mentioned earlier today that the Turnbull government’s media reform package is still kicking around the building. The critical player, the NXT leader, Nick Xenophon, has given the government a revised wish list and the government is still mulling. No sign of a quick breakthrough, at least not yet.
Earlier today, there was also a protest out the front of the parliament by people concerned about the treatment of Rohingyan people in Myanmar. According to the news wire serve AAP (and thanks for their report of the protest), close to 300 people from NSW and Queensland expressed concern during the action earlier today.
Rohingyan spokesman Ashan Haque said ethnic cleansing was going on in the country. “History is repeating itself. It’s basically what happened in WWII. Let’s not wait another century. Let’s act now and save them.”
I need to mop up a couple of issues I haven’t had a chance to catch on the way through. The defence minister, Marise Payne, is heading for South Korea on Wednesday, where she is due to deliver a speech. Self evidently that speech will happen smack bang in the middle of the current escalation of regional tensions on the peninsula. She will also go to the Philippines after the Korean trip to discuss the Islamist uprising in Marawi. The Turnbull government has been, over recent weeks, signalling greater Australian involvement in a counter terrorism offensive in the country.
Meanwhile, one of the Liberal MPs facing persistent questions about her entitlement to British citizenship, Ann Sudmalis, has released some documentation from the UK Home Office. This document says there is “no trace” of Sudmalis obtaining UK citizenship.
As per my previous statement, I’m not and have never been a UK citizen. pic.twitter.com/DOC1QMJnYF
The conversation on Sky has now moved to the looming high court challenge about the postal survey on same sex marriage. That case will be heard by the high court later this week.
Political editor David Speers wants to know whether the government will allow a vote in parliament in the event the high court declares the postal survey invalid.
If we came to that bridge, we would cross that bridge at that point in time.
The finance minister is being pushed in his Sky interview about whether the government has taken legal advice about whether ministers can make valid decisions while there is a question over their eligibility to sit in the parliament. This is the issue Labor has been pursuing all day about Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash.
I’m not going to go to the content of legal advice to the government.
The finance minister Mathias Cormann is on Sky News, sounding like he wants to turn down the volume on the whole citizenship imbroglio. He says this issue belongs with the high court, not with the parliament. MPs can determine whether or not to release private documents, he says.
None of us have the authority to make these judgments.
While we’ve been working through question time and the aftermath, Fairfax Media has published an interesting story about the Liberal MP Stuart Robert. The story says Robert might have been elected in breach of the constitution “after it emerged he had direct financial links with a company awarded millions in government contracts”.
Labor is already pursuing one government MP in the lower house over links with government contracts, the National David Gillespie. Early soundings don’t indicate much interest in pursuing this particular case, but all things are liable to change without notice. Robert isn’t commenting, according to his office.
Here is the correspondence from the UK Home Office.
For the record, here is Bill Shorten’s full statement on his citizenship to the House.
I want to address comments made by the prime minister and the member for Warringah and other members of the government, suggesting that I might secretly be a UK national – a dual national, like his ministers.
I will not allow the prime minister to use a smear about me as cover for the crisis which engulfs his government.
I haven’t personally sighted Bill Shorten’s letter yet. I will chase it up.
Slight problem of syncing the chambers. The Liberal senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, says there’s “a fair dose of hypocrisy” in Labor demanding Fiona Nash table legal advice on her citizenship woes. He argued that the ACT Labor senator, Katy Gallagher, has not done the same.
But developments in the lower house have apparently not yet reached the Senate, because Seselja went on to slam Shorten for his hypocritical refusal to table his citizenship documents.
Just in case you haven’t followed all the twists and turns of the citizenship saga, Bill Shorten has been refusing to release his documentation for more than a week on the basis the Australian parliament should not be turned into a star chamber.
His argument has been he shouldn’t have to cough up the documentary material because no one has demonstrated he has an actual case to answer. It’s all just supposition, and why should the onus of proof be reversed?
The Labor leader Bill Shorten has stood up after question time to table correspondence he received from the British government confirming that he had renounced his UK citizenship before he was elected to parliament in 2007.
I offer this proof to the parliament today to put an end to baseless allegations, not reward them.
I strongly believe that MPs and senators should not be to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence. I repeat – MPs and senators should not be forced to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence.
And with that final flourish, Turnbull grounds the question time plane.
After that brief skirmish, question time is rolling forward. A Dorothy Dixer now on energy.
Another 74/73 vote in the House.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Labor is continuing to pressure Fiona Nash over her British citizenship.
Nash has ducked questions on whether she offered to step down from her ministerial positions.
The gag motion stuck but only just, the vote was 74, 73. They are still dividing down there in the House. Hard to say who might be conquering at this stage.
Labor returns to citizenship. How can the prime minister know what the high court will hold? How can the prime minister act so recklessly?
Malcolm Turnbull says in an enervated tone, we’ve had this build up for weeks, about the trouble Labor intends to cause in the House, the tactical disruptions. Why doesn’t Labor want to talk about securing public spaces against acts of terrorism, or about drug trials for people on welfare?
The House calls on the prime minister to immediately stand aside the deputy prime minister from cabinet until his constitutional qualifications have been determined by the high court.
I move that the member be no longer heard.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, is invited to reflect on the better days ahead, with more investment and more jobs. (We haven’t heard about the better days ahead for a while.) Morrison is delighted to return to better days ahead.
We have a Turnbull government that’s focused on the economics of opportunity, not the politics of envy, Mr Speaker.
Bill Shorten is back on the constitutional cases. Shorten wants to know whether it is seriously government policy that ministers will keep their jobs for three months after being disqualified by the high court?
(Section 64 has a three-month provision).
Mr Speaker, the Australian people expect this House, this parliament, to focus on their security. Their national security. Their energy security. Securing their jobs and the opportunities for the future.
That’s what the government is focused on.
A Dorothy Dixer on asylum boats from the immigration minister, Peter Dutton. Bill Shorten will see that the boats start again, Dutton says.
Back to the House again now. Labor is zooming in on Barnaby Joyce and his decision making.
Q: Since the government became aware that there was doubt over the qualifications of the deputy prime minister to be a member of parliament, how many executive orders, grants, delegations, appointments and legislate instruments has the deputy prime minister signed or made?
I can advise the honourable member that the government is absolutely satisfied that the deputy prime minister is qualified to sit in the House.
Our legal advice is very clear. We’re very confident that the high court will confirm that when the matter is heard.
Take it away Chris.
Another Dorothy Dixer on North Korea for the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop.
Then Bill Shorten is back on citizenship.
The last thing we want to get into perhaps is a debate about legal opinions.
But I’d say this, there is one opinion that every Australian has.
Labor comes back with a follow-up question on citizenship. Are there any other undisclosed cases? Has the government sought advice on any other cases?
Malcolm Turnbull says there has been speculation about a number of people, including Labor MPs. Then he goes to the question of advice.
The honourable member’s question as to whether advice has been sought – the advice that I have sought from the solicitor-general is limited to the situations of the three ministers that have already been referred.
Given his previous attempt at a statement on indulgence was cut off, Bill Shorten rises on indulgence on North Korea.
I’d like to say to all Australians who may be watching or listening to these proceedings in parliament, that whatever disagreements might colour the next hour or so, on this question, the parliament is of one mind.
Keeping our people safe is the first priority and responsibility of all who serve in the parliament. The security of our nation and our region and the world unites our parliament and that is precisely as it should be.
The first Dorothy Dixer is on North Korea. The prime minister says he convened a meeting of the cabinet’s national security council this morning to discuss the latest developments.
I want to be very clear to honourable members. China finds North Korea’s conduct frustrating and dismaying. China has condemned it strongly and has stated unequivocally that it will implement the latest round of security council sanctions for which of course China voted as a member, as a permanent member of the security council.
And so it’s important to understand that North Korea is not an obedient client state of China like East Germany was to the former Soviet Union. Nonetheless, China has the greatest leverage and hence the greatest responsibility. And so we call on China to use that economic leverage to bring this rogue regime to its senses.
First question from Labor is on citizenship. Labor wants to know whether the government is sitting on any more undisclosed citizenship cases, given the government waited until just before the adjournment in the last sitting fortnight to confirm there were problems with Fiona Nash.
The prime minister does not answer the substance of the question.
The Labor leader Bill Shorten opens by trying to make a contribution, on indulgence, on North Korea.
The Speaker, Tony Smith, sits Shorten down.
Indulgence on these issues is usually granted on the basis of there are some issues that should be used to unite the parliament. If this issue is not granted indulgence, it will mean this House has had an indulgence on the Yarra council but not on North Korea. And I simply ask that indulgence be granted.
When it comes to these sorts of matters the practice is very, very clear. The indulgence is granted following a similar statement by the prime minister.
The Labor leader Bill Shorten opens in the condolence motion this way.
Today the Labor family salutes the life of a faithful son. We offer our condolences to Doug Everingham’s family.
He was one of the first of the Whitlam academics – a new breed of tertiary-educated Labor candidate. A trained psychiatrist, surgeon and GP who became a reforming health minister.
Here begins the hour of glower, but the session opens with a condolence motion. The prime minister is paying tribute to Doug Everingham, a former member for Capricornia and minister for health in the Whitlam government, who died on August 24.
The Labor man Joel Fitzgibbon is on ABC24 with a curtain raiser to question time. He’s got eyes on Barnaby Joyce.
Fitzgibbon is asked about Tony Abbott’s remarks about Bill Shorten this morning: that disrupting the parliament only demonstrates that you aren’t up to the task of being prime minister.
No, I don’t. I did see Tony Abbott’s tactics upfront. They moved a suspension motion every day for three years.
Good grief, it’s nearly question time. Just time for you to put the kettle on. 2pm beckons.
Liddell, we could keep open, that would be one option.
This is Craig Kelly, continuing on Sky. He says a system of reverse auctions would be the way to go. That system would allow various energy providers scope to bid into the market to supply electricity – coal, gas, wind, solar. The Minerals Council of Australia, which represents coal interests, is pushing the reverse auction scheme behind the scenes.
The energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, is being interviewed on Sky. If you are a regular reader of mine, you’ll know I’ve been flagging over the past week or so that the Turnbull government is looking at trying to sort out its energy policy, and is also considering whether coal-fired power stations can remain open for longer.
I’ve flagged that the government is looking at the Liddell power station, which is due to close in 2022. Frydenberg has been asked on Sky about Liddell. He says the cheapest power is generated by existing coal assets, and if the current power stations can be kept operating for longer, that would be a “good outcome”.
While we cannot rival the excitement of #agday, we can recap the events of the morning.
Just before I move in orderly fashion in full compliance with live blogging best practice to posting a lunch time summary, I’ve had a request during this brief comeback tour for more Lego.
Yes, that request may have been from my mother (hi Mum), but I know that many other readers of this project over many years adore the #BrickParliament. I’m also aware that ABC TV viewers have also been treated recently to the sight of Mr Bowers toiling away in his #BrickParliament workshop in order to inform the #auspol world of developments in the Senate (and elsewhere) that we were once prevented from recording pictorially.
The National Farmers Federation president, Fiona Simson, standing next to Joyce and well clear of the boning floor, is welcoming a huge celebration on 21 November, which will be national agriculture day. Apparently national agriculture day is an initiative of the mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
This will be a magnificent day, Simson thinks.
Meanwhile, in the mural hall, the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, is talking about agriculture. It’s important.
… whether you are on the boning floor …
For the record, this is the full statement to the House from the Speaker, Tony Smith.
The most interesting bit of this statement, apart from the referral of Billson, is the reference Smith drops in the paragraph that I have bolded below.
On 15 August 2017 the manager of opposition business raised as a matter of privilege whether the circumstances surrounding the former member for Dunkley, Mr Bruce Billson, accepting an appointment as a paid director of the Franchise Council of Australia whilst still a member of the House gave rise to any issues which may constitute contempt of the House.
I am satisfied the member has raised the matter at the earliest opportunity. The manager of opposition business tabled a number of related documents and I have examined these as well as his statement to the House.
Tony Smith, on the Bruce Billson referral to the privileges committee.
I have not made a determination that there is a prima facie case, but I’m sufficiently concerned by the matters raised to consider they should be examined by the committee.
While we are down in the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Tony Smith, is making a statement about the former Liberal MP Bruce Billson. Some readers will doubtless already know that the former Liberal minister has apologised for failing to disclose that he was collecting a salary from a business lobby group, the franchise council, when he was still an MP.
Labor has sought to refer this issue to the powerful privileges committee of parliament to see whether or not any contempts of the House have been committed. Smith says in his statement to the chamber that he doesn’t have sufficient information to be able to have a position on Billson’s conduct, but he says the issue should go to privileges for determination.
I am not in a position to determine the nature of any connection between the appointment of Mr Billson to the franchise council and his subsequent statements and actions, but I appreciate that issues are raised.
While we’ve had eyes on the red place, down in the House of Representatives the Green’s climate change spokesman, Adam Bandt, introduced a bill expanding the current renewable energy target. That happened about an hour ago. I wrote a preview of this development this morning.
The bill itself doesn’t matter, given it is unlikely to find much support. It’s the politics that make this development interesting.
Just for the record, Greens and One Nation voting together.
Sometimes we should say no.
This is the Tasmanian independent, Andrew Wilkie, on Sky News just now talking about North Korea. He’s talking about our obligations under the Anzus treaty if the US comes under attack by the rogue regime. Wilkie says the treaty requires only consultation, not action. He says when Canada says no to America, Washington takes notice.
No idea what this is about, but Penny Wong is clearly amused.
Just for the record, the Greens voted with One Nation on that motion for an audit. Not a development you see every day of the week.
Labor’s Katy Gallagher, insisting she is eligible to remain.
A few pictures now from that sequence in the Senate, kicking off with Pauline Hanson on the war path.
We are back now to Pauline Hanson, and her suspension motion.
The One Nation leader says the major parties are closing ranks on the dual citizenship fracas and refusing to conduct an independent inquiry or audit to determine whether everyone in the place meets the constitutional benchmarks to be in parliament.
Why are you closing ranks? The people have lost trust in you.
The invisible man!
This is not about closing ranks, Senator Hanson, this is about a professional political party doing what is required to be done.
We went through a professional process, a proper process. No closed ranks from the Labor party, just a professional process to ensure people are entitled to be in.
I withdraw, reluctantly.
The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has sought to suspend the standing orders on a motion concerning the qualification of senators.
Labor’s Penny Wong has asked Hanson to hit pause on the suspension, while Derryn Hinch and Katy Gallagher make statements concerning issues raised in the past couple of weeks about their potential constitutional problems.
The Senate has skipped on in short order to referring the Nationals deputy leader, Fiona Nash, and the NXT leader, Nick Xenophon, to the high court. That has just happened.
The Greens leader Richard Di Natale has taken the opportunity to raise the section 64 issues I raised on the blog a couple of posts ago – he says ministers should not be in their posts while these matters are being heard.
The Senate is now sitting for the day. As I flagged a bit earlier, Stephen Parry, the Senate president, has just given a short statement giving new facts about how Pauline Hanson entered the chamber during the past sitting fortnight wearing a burqa – and what consequences follow the action.
Parry said Hanson did not, at any point, breach security in parliament house by entering the chamber in the full-face covering. She had sought a security escort from her office to the chamber so she would not be impeded by journalists, and they knew who they were escorting. “At no point” did Hanson put the parliament’s security at risk, Parry said, because she was clearly identified before entering the chamber.
Just a bit more of Tony before I check in on our friends in the Senate.
Abbott was asked whether the current campaign of character assassination against him (which I confess I have missed despite paying ridiculously close attention to daily politics) was harming his chances of being preselected in the seat of Warringah.
It is China’s problem to fix.
Fresh from his spot of helping earlier this morning, the former prime minister Tony Abbott has bobbed up on 2GB in his regular Monday fortnightly spot with Ray Hadley, except Ray isn’t there.
Someone called Mark is there, and Tony hopes Ray will be back real soon – and don’t we all.
I can’t quibble with your arithmetic there, Mark.
I want to return for a moment to procedural antics and the high court cases because I’ve zipped over that in pretty basic fashion this morning. Given things are likely to get noisy at some point today, let’s step through the substantive point sitting behind the basic intra-day political tactics.
Labor has eyes on Barnaby Joyce, the deputy prime minister, because it wants to hang a lantern over whether or not his ministerial decisions at the moment are legally valid. The focus is on Joyce, too, because the government commands a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives. That will be upset of course if the high court says Joyce is out because he was a dual citizen of New Zealand. Joyce will also have a stint as acting prime minister later this week.
Lots of activity up and down the corridor this morning.
I love this catch from Mike Bowers of Nick Xenophon feeding the chooks.
I forgot to mention before when I mentioned Nick Xenophon’s visit to our corridor – there was a short update on media reform.
I’ve mentioned that when the Senate begins sitting at 10am, Nick Xenophon and Fiona Nash will be referred off for their day in the high court.
We also expect the president of the Senate, Stephen Parry, to make a statement about the eye-popping event of the last sitting fortnight – Pauline Hanson’s decision to wear a burqa in the Senate chamber.
No show without Hunch.
Tony Abbott is meanwhile at the door of the House of Representatives, and he is here to help. (You bet you are. You bet I am.)
Abbott is clutching a letter he obtained from the Brits concerning his True Blue citizenship status.
He should show the letter or shut up.
I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.
Nick Xenophon is out now in the corridor in the press gallery. Xenophon will be referred off to the high court (with the deputy Nationals leader, Fiona Nash) once the Senate gets under way this morning to have his eligibility considered. Xenophon has a dual citizenship by descent problem.
Xenophon says he intends to press on as normal, because that’s what his legal advice says. He says he intends to act like it’s business as usual “until the high court determines otherwise”.
This is a sideshow. It’s up to the high court to determine this issue.
The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, appeared earlier this morning on Channel 7’s Sunrise program, praising the cashless welfare card on the basis of her meetings with elders from Kununurra and Ceduna.
[Elders and communities] actually are so pleased with the card. They say now the communities have had a turnaround, there’s not so much domestic violence, kids are going to school, they are actually eating decent meals, the buying good food for the table. It is actually working. Also, the drugs aren’t as big an issue, it’s still there, but it has addressed it.
I think that’s a bit premature to actually make those comments [about] what we’re going to do. I have full confidence in senator Malcolm Roberts to maintain his seat. And I will deal with the situation at the time. But as I’ve said, I’ve always supported him and do believe he should be on the floor of parliament.
Shortly after the prime minister was interviewed on the AM program, the manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, bobbed up on Radio National.
Burke (who is responsible for Labor’s tactics in the House) was asked about the prime minister’s warning to the opposition. Burke thought linking parliamentary tactics and the North Korean security crisis was a long bow. A bit of melodrama, he thought.
The prime minister has stopped by the ABC studios to speak to the AM host, Sabra Lane.
Turnbull spoke about the North Korean threat, which has of course has escalated dangerously over the weekend.
That absolutely would be a lever that China could pull, and that would put enormous economic pressure on the regime.
Well, it says a lot about the Labor party, Sabra, doesn’t it, that at a time when we’re facing the greatest threat of war on the Korean peninsula in 60 years, more than 60 years, on the face of that – in the face of rising energy prices and Labor’s admitted responsibility for that, in the face of all of that, what the Labor party wants to do is talk about creating disruption on the floor of the parliament. Australians will be sickened by the sight of the Labor party’s failure to recognise the priorities of the Australian parliament, is to keep Australians safe and to support the opportunity, the economic opportunity that Australians deserve, and that requires the parliament to focus on the real issues, rather than playing political games.
The reality is we are facing on the Korean peninsula the gravest threat to peace since the end of the Korean war.
These are dangerous times. Now, what we Australians would expect is the parliament to be resolute in support of the security of Australia.
Well good morning good blogans, bloganistas, and welcome to the resumption of federal parliament, sometimes known as the twilight zone – and to the live social experiment known as ‘can Katharine Murphy still live blog’?
Regular readers of Politics Live know that Gabrielle Chan has moved on from the project in order to spend more time being able to hear herself think, and our wonderful new addition, Amy Remeikis, will take command of this project from next week.
Link : Cormann refuses to rule out parliamentary vote on marriage equality – as it happened