Foreign minister says Australia backs tougher sanctions; Tony Burke says Barnaby Joyce should stand aside as deputy PM until high court makes its eligibility ruling
That just about does it for this sitting week Tuesday. Thanks to Katharine Murphy for opening the batting and carrying us through the day before handing over her brainchild.
What we learned:
I’m getting ready to wrap-up the blog (or ground the plane in Guardian speak) but first Mike Bowers wanted me to post a photo of Liberal MP Ian Goodenough.
Apparently in 2016 Goodenough wrote effusive praise for his Rolex watch but the timepiece itself is rarely seen. Eagle-eyed Bowers has spotted it in the wild:
Meanwhile, culture wars about national symbols roll on in the Senate:
A motion endorsing the Australian flag passed the senate. Greens attempted a motion to suggest changing it but it failed. pic.twitter.com/fw1bBoSY4v
Matt Canavan also addressed his eligibility to sit in parliament, and why he resigned as a minister when deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, and deputy Nationals leader, Fiona Nash, did not.
Asked on Sky News why he jumped, Canavan says he received advice within 24 hours of discovering his possible Italian citizenship.
Clearly that advice was not as strong as [the advice] the government has since received over a number of weeks, which has led them to the conclusions that those ministers kept [their portfolios].
My colleague, Mikey Slezak, will bring you a full report on talks between the government and AGL, owner of the Liddell power station in New South Wales, to extend the life of the plant for at least five years after 2022.
In the meantime, former resources and Northern Australia minister Matt Canavan, who stood down while the high court tests his eligibility to sit in parliament, has welcomed the talks with AGL.
The sensible side of this debate is saying that we should be using all of our resources to deliver cheap, reliable and more efficient power
There’s always a role for governments to plan to ensure that investment in large infrastructure, like power plants, occurs in the best possible way
It’s the Nick Xenophon Team’s votes that are imperilling the government’s citizenship bill, but here’s one of Labor giving thumbs down to immigration minister Peter Dutton.
The Nick Xenophon Team has derailed the immigration minister Peter Dutton’s attempt to enact tough new citizenship laws, saying it cannot support his controversial package in its current form.
NXT senator Stirling Griff has told Fairfax Media (and Guardian Australia has confirmed) he and his colleagues have decided not to support the government’s bill at it stands, saying Dutton’s plan is “an attempt to fix problems that don’t exist.”
We’re a nation built on migration and the envy of the world when it comes to a harmonious society. The system isn’t broken, there’s no need for it to be repaired.
The four-year [waiting] period may not be so bad on its own, but it would actually cause all sorts of issues by being effectively retrospective for those families that have children about to start university.
There’s also the issue of the requirement to have university-standard English language requirements which I guess a lot of, even members of parliament, would have difficulty passing, even me. I think it seems incredibly onerous … and a bridge too far.
Speaking of drug testing welfare recipients, my colleague, Christopher Knaus, has a report on physicians criticising the social services minister, Christian Porter, for linking the debate on drug testing welfare recipients to child immunisation policies.
Porter recently argued that medical bodies such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians were issuing similar warnings about drug testing of welfare recipients as they did when the government proposed using the welfare system to compel people to vaccinate their kids.
Conflating issues as different as childhood vaccination and addiction confuses two very distinct and very important public health issues.
Addressing a problem such as addiction, which is complex and deeply connected to many other issues including mental health, trauma and poverty, is very different to mechanisms to encourage people to undertake a single intervention such as an immunisation.
The social services minister is talking about testing re alcohol abuse by welfare recipients because they miss appointments
Shadow human services minister, Linda Burney, is speaking on Sky News about her meeting with Clinton Pryor, who arrived in Canberra on Sunday after walking 5,581km around Australia to raise awareness of Indigenous issues.
Burney says that Labor opposes the forced closure of remote Indigenous Australian communities in Western Australia.
Every single medical expert, every single addiction expert … has said this is a bad idea. Labor has no problem with the idea welfare should be spent appropriately. But there’s no evidence, no science, that says this will work.
Just before question time, one of the crossbench independent MPs, Bob Katter, stirred up a bit of mischief for the government.
Katter is having a meeting with former prime minister Tony Abbott this afternoon or this week. He told Sky News:
I want to emphasise: it’s up the Liberals what they want to do in their party, but I most certainly want to build the relationship with a person who may be prime minister.
I’ve never seen this before in 43 years as a member of parliament … When you ask a Liberal who they think will be PM at the end of this year or start of next year, they’ll give you a different name. The same MP will give you a different name … so it’s very fluid at the present moment. If I was a betting man I wouldn’t be hazarding a guess.
Picking up the blog at the end of question time, I’ve got a few more snaps from Mike Bowers
Now, dear folks, I need to take myself off for a briefing for an hour or so. My colleague Paul Karp will mind the live blog shop in my absence. Please don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
Make Paul welcome. See you in a bit.
And with that, further questions have been placed on the notice paper.
Question time has resumed in the House. It’s a Dorothy Dixer, allowing Peter Dutton to pick up the Anthony Albanese theme warmed up by Christopher Pyne a little while ago.
House Speaker Tony Smith would like Dutton to come to the substance of his contribution. Immediately.
I was trying to break out of that preamble but I was on a roll, Mr Speaker. Thank you for your forbearance.
You can roll out of the chamber too.
In the other place, the last moments of question time saw the Senate delve deep into the hypotheticals of dual citizenship. The Nationals senator Fiona Nash was asked whether she had conversations with the prime minister about her likely replacement should the high court deem her ineligible.
No, and Mr President, isn’t it interesting that again we see from the members opposite an opportunity to talk about things that are important to people of Australia, and they choose not to do it.
I don’t agree, I can’t see a civil war happening in this country.
A few more windows on the chamber while these divisions roll on.
Some days are diamonds. Some days aren’t diamonds.
While we wait on the vote in the House, the Greens senator Nick McKim has created some controversy in the other place, by accusing the government of torturing asylum seekers on Manus Island.
McKim asked repeatedly whether the government still intends to close the centre by 31 October, and whether it would abandon the 800 detainees.
A quick Dorothy Dixer for the manager of government business, Christopher Pyne, to have a laugh about the Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese expressing some creative differences with Bill Shorten – then Labor moves the suspension motion.
Labor’s Tony Burke:
The House calls on the deputy prime minister to stand aside from cabinet immediately.
Mr Speaker, they’ve got to build some momentum before they do that. I move that the member be no longer heard.
Labor wants the legal advice the government is relying on to inform its statements that Barnaby Joyce is eligible to be in the parliament.
The Labor leader Bill Shorten says there is a precedent in 1999, when John Howard tabled legal advice about a high court case in 1999.
If the honourable member has to go back 18 years to find a … precedent, it rather proves the point I made in my earlier answer.
A Dorothy Dixer allowing the social services minister, Christian Porter, to reflect on the most insipid press release in political history.
Which is always a big call.
Labor, returning to Barnaby Joyce, and picking up Malcolm Turnbull’s last answer.
Q: Can the prime minister please advise the House on what other occasions his government referred a matter to the high court to provide the high court with an opportunity?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I can’t recall any other occasions.
The foreign minister Julie Bishop has provided an update to the House about North Korea.
Given that North Korea is threatening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime that has governed the use of nuclear technology since 1970, we instructed our ambassador in Vienna to make a statement overnight at an extraordinary session of the comprehensive test ban treaty commission, and we demanded that North Korea cease its ballistic and nuclear weapons programs and that it abide by international law and international norms.
Also overnight, the UN Security Council held an extraordinary meeting and the United States will be circulating a draft resolution to be adopted next week, and Australia supports stronger UN Security Council responses including even stronger and tougher economic sanctions, particularly those where China can exercise its leverage.
Returning to the fray. Labor, continuing:
Q: If the prime minister believes there is no doubt about the deputy prime minister’s qualifications, then why was the matter referred to the high court?
Well, thank you, Mr Speaker. In order to give the high court the opportunity to clarify the law on this matter.
Let’s pull out of the fray for a second and snapshot this question time.
Back in the House, another Dorothy Dixer on energy, and Labor persisting on why the government is being reckless and allowing ministers before the high court to keep making decisions.
The prime minister wants to know why Labor isn’t interested in energy prices. And other things.
Meanwhile, in the other place, the blowtorch is well and truly on Nationals senator Fiona Nash in the Senate. Labor have begun right where they left off on Monday. They’ve launched an immediate attack on Nash over her handling of her dual citizenship, and divergent approaches taken by her and former resources minister Matt Canavan, who resigned from cabinet.
Labor senator Catryna Bilyk quotes Canavan to the chamber. Caravan said he was standing aside from cabinet because he wanted to “fully respect this process”.
The answer to that is no. I’ve indicated of course the timeline of events in terms of the information that was provided.
Labor is back with section 64.
Q: Since the government became aware there were doubts over the deputy prime minister’s qualification to be a member of parliament, how many executive orders, grants, delegations, appointments and legislative instruments has the deputy prime minister made or signed?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The government does not doubt the deputy prime minister’s eligibility to sit in the parliament.
The NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie has a water question. She’s concerned about illegal diversions. Barnaby Joyce says a report by Ken Matthews is imminent. He says the government has been diligent in investigating claims of wrongdoing.
Labor wants to know whether the prime minister has told the governor general that Barnaby Joyce will be the acting prime minister later this week. The prime minister says the governor general is in the loop.
Turnbull says the GG was notified quite some time ago.
There is a standing instrument that makes the deputy prime minister acting prime minister when I’m out of the country or indeed absent from duties and so forth.
A Dorothy Dixer allowing the treasurer, Scott Morrison, to note that the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, has no plan to drive jobs, no plan to drive growth in this country. He is just on one big long whinge.
Another question from Labor on section 64 of the constitution and whether current decision making by ministers before the high court is legal.
Mr Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that I am fully aware of section 64 of the constitution. It’s been there for quite a long time and I can assure the honourable member that the government is very satisfied that the ministers he referred to are fully entitled to serve as ministers just as they are entitled to serve in this parliament.
A Dorothy Dixer on energy policy.
The dixer allows Malcolm Turnbull to confirm the government is in discussions with AGL, the owner of the Liddell power station in New South Wales “about how we can ensure that that power station stays in operation for at least another five years after 2022.”
Labor opens today’s session with ministerial decision making, and section 64 of the constitution.
Q: Has the government sought or received any advice that ministerial actions of the deputy prime minister, Senator Nash and Senator Canavan may be open to challenge?
All of the ministers will continue to administer the departments to which they are sworn. I have explained the government’s position in terms of the high court litigation … we are very confident that the deputy prime minister and indeed Senator Nash and indeed Senator Canavan will be found not to be disqualified from sitting in this House or indeed in the Senate.
This is the moment in every Canberra live-blogging day when the live blogger looks up and clocks that question time is ten minutes away and screams.
Mostly silently. Sometimes out loud.
Incidentally on the Ian MacDonald question, some colleagues say the Queensland veteran was trying to make a positive point – that he believed they were a good government, so why weren’t the voters responding to all the good governing?
The eternal why. Expressed in a more positive light.
Meanwhile, in the other party room, the Coalition party room, same-sex marriage and the clean energy target didn’t rate a mention.
Malcolm Turnbull accused Labor of behaving like “bawdy school children behind the bike shed” intent on causing mayhem in parliament. He said nobody in the Australian community was raising the issues Labor was focused on, which Barnaby Joyce expanded on by nominating citizenship (his eligibility for parliament) and same-sex marriage as the issues that “nobody” is bringing up outside the Canberra bubble.
A quick summary of the Greens party room meeting, and this morning’s Labor caucus.
The Greens have telegraphed a plan to move a motion in the Senate on Tuesday asking senators to declare if they think coal-fired power is a clean source of energy. The Greens have also telegraphed a campaign to try to wedge Labor on energy policy, with a big decision on the Finkel review coming up. The Greens will move a motion on Tuesday that “the Senate does not consider coal-fired power to be clean” as part of an effort to keep the spotlight on this issue.
Back to the forecourt. The Queenslander Bob Katter stopped by for a chat on his way back from a rally with maritime workers.
The education minister, Simon Birmingham, is on Sky. Birmingham is a strong government supporter of marriage equality. He’s asked by his host Sam Maiden what plan C is in the event the high court throws out the postal ballot:
I’m not dealing with plan C.
Just a sprinkle of Mike Bowers’ beautiful work from down on the forecourt.
Here’s the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, meeting Indigenous man Clinton Pryor.
So, let’s grab a minute to take stock.
Tuesdays are funny days. There’s a lull in the morning during the party room meetings, then we accelerate around this time of the day. Give me a minute, I’ll post a lunchtime summary, before we blast off into the afternoon.
Bill Shorten has met Indigenous man Clinton Pryor, down on the parliamentary forecourt. (Murph mentioned Pryor was on his way earlier today). Shorten held a brief press conference afterwards. The Labor leader said he “didn’t agree with everything” that was said at the meeting, but paid Pryor respect, saying his walk had “taken great courage and personal strength of character”.
Reporters pursued energy prices and energy policy. Shorten called on the government to move forward with a clean energy target.
We need a clean energy target. The chief scientist [Alan Finkel] has written a report that outlines a pathway forward to help restrain energy prices and help take action on climate change. The number-one problem contributing to energy prices in this country … is the absence of proper national policy. Mr Turnbull has got to stare down the knuckle draggers and the right wing of his conservative Coalition. Because once we’ve got policy, then investment will follow, and once we have a green light to investment in energy generation then we have downwards on pressure on prices and real action on climate change.
The Coalition party room has met in Canberra this morning. Liberal sources have told me that the veteran Queensland Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald responded to a positive report from the executive about how the government was currently travelling (quick summary: splendidly) with a question to the prime minister about why the polls are so bad. According to my informant, MacDonald inquired who was running the political strategy for the government.
Peace, love and harmonics.
Oddly enough this turned up in my Twitter timeline just as Paul Karp was sending me his update from Stonewall City. It seemed appropriate to share.
Just keep swimming pic.twitter.com/xiEZ6P4TA6
In response to Bill Shorten tabling a letter on Monday showing he had renounced British citizenship in 2006, I’ve been doing a phone around to Coalition and Labor MPs who either had dual citizenship, or who have had questions raised about their entitlement to citizenship by descent, to see if they will follow suit.
Labor is holding the line that Shorten is an exceptional case because he wants to be prime minister, and nobody else needs to show and tell.
Just by the by, the sequel. I wonder how long it will take the Washington Post to get a transcript?
Just by the by.
Per WH: Trump scheduled to talk by phone to Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday evening.
Briefings after the various party rooms will happen shortly.
The Senate has ordered its business, at least for the first cut of the day. The media reform package has fallen off the list, which suggests that package is now in deep chin-stroking territory. As always, all things are liable to change without notice.
I gather from watching the social media accounts of some MPs that young Indigenous man Clinton Pryor has arrived at the tent embassy outside old parliament house at the end of a 5,581km walk, which is intended to share the concerns of Indigenous Australians with federal parliamentarians.
At the Embassy. pic.twitter.com/WhtHVpglTW
I gather the high-court hearing is under way now in Melbourne, and back in Canberra, the Greens senator Nick McKim is doing an interview on Sky. He’s asked whether the Greens will support a private member’s bill drafted by the Liberal senator Dean Smith in the event the high court throws out the postal survey.
McKim initially delivers a broad formulation. He says his party is working constructively across party lines to ensure a bill comes forward. When pressed, he says the Greens will support the Smith bill. He says it is important to support that bill in order to ensure marriage equality can be delivered expeditiously.
If that’s the bill that ends up being put before the parliament, we will support it.
Speaking as we were before about polls, and today’s Essential survey, YouGov has a new poll out today which has the Turnbull government and Labor at level-pegging on 50/50 on the two-party-preferred measure.
YouGov is the only poll which has had the Coalition either on 50/50, or ahead of Labor, in recent weeks. All the other polls (ours included) have had Labor comfortably in front for ages.
My colleague Gareth Hutchens has an interesting story this morning about citizenship. Not the high-court dual-citizenship variety, but the Turnbull government’s proposed overhaul of the criteria for becoming an Australian citizen. Remember that package?
We expect a report later today from the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs, after an inquiry into the government’s package.
The shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has been bailed up by Sky News. Dreyfus echoes the comments from Andrew Wilkie this morning. In the event the high court bins the government’s postal survey, “we’ll press for a full free vote as soon as possible”.
“We’ll be pressing as hard as we can, at the earliest opportunity”.
I think I’ll just post this without comment.
Some scans this morning, so I wore my finest tracksuit to work. I think I look athletic. The team disagrees! You have the deciding vote!!! pic.twitter.com/lvwpDt70Gn
I have an eye on marriage equality advocates who are addressing reporters in Melbourne ahead of today’s hearings.
If you want to follow our live coverage of today’s hearing, the wonderful Calla Wahlquist is on the job, court side. You can tune in here.
We also thought we’d keep testing popular support for marriage equality given the important events of this week.
This week’s Essential data says 59% (up 2% from a fortnight ago) support changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry and 31% (down 1%) are opposed.
Given the party room hiatus we have a bit of time to look at our latest Essential poll.
This week, voters were asked a series of questions about Australia Day and about how we present our history, given recent controversies about both issues. Malcolm Turnbull has jumped on this issue in recent times.
It being Tuesday morning of a parliamentary sitting week – both the Coalition party room and the Labor caucus are meeting.
If you have a spare twenty minutes this morning, and feel the need of some preparation ahead of the high court’s deliberations on the postal survey and citizenship, I had a chat last week to George Williams, professor of constitutional law at UNSW.
Shelley Argent, the national spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFlag), is being interviewed by Sky News ahead of the high court hearing today.
She says rights for the gay and lesbian community need to be determined in a more “dignified” way than a postal survey. She says it’s not the usual practice in Australia to survey the public before legislating to advance human rights.
The deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, is doubtless limbering up for another character-forming day facing questions about the appropriateness of his ministerial decision making.
The manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, has been on the ABC this morning continuing to criticise the government for exposing itself to legal risk.
We haven’t been saying that he should resign immediately as a member of parliament. He should wait for [the high court] decision. But while there’s a cloud over him, he should be standing aside as deputy prime minister of Australia. Every day he’s making executive decisions and he might not even be eligible to be in the parliament.
He’s not only in charge of his own portfolio now. He’s also in charge of Matt Canavan’s portfolio because Matt Canavan did the right thing and stood aside while the high court was working this out. And it’s getting now to the bizarre situation where at the end of this week, when Malcolm Turnbull goes overseas, their current plan is to put in charge of the whole of Australia someone who might not even be lawfully allowed to be in the parliament.
While Murph has been listening to the prime minister on Nova, Liberal senator Linda Reynolds and Labor MP Andrew Giles have been on ABC’s AM talking up a push by the major parties for a bipartisan deal on political donations laws.
The chair and deputy chair of the joint standing committee on electoral matters both agreed that political donations laws are broken and need fixing.
People have to have faith in the system. And we believe it has to be more transparent, it has to have a much more level playing field. The big issue we’re having a look at is that the current provisions were largely written in 1983 and technology and campaigning, and the amount of political actors … has changed significantly.
Here he is, coming into the home stretch, a study in determination.
Meanwhile, Mike Bowers, intrepid soul that he is, has been out jogging with the deputy prime minister, which is brave, given the actual temperature right now is 4.4C, and the apparent temperature, according to our friends at the BOM, is -4.8C.
The conversation on Nova has shifted to basketball. Malcolm Turnbull tried to shoot some hoops recently and it didn’t go that well. I think there is vision of that somewhere. I’ll see if I can find it.
By some strange coincidence, Andrew Gaze, the former basketballer, has rung in to offer some pro tips. Turnbull says if you put a basketball in the hands of any fifty something politician, they’ll miss the shot.
But still, you may as well have a go.
The prime minister has bobbed up on Nova FM in Sydney. Malcolm Turnbull is also speaking about North Korea. He says confrontation on the peninsula would be a “catastrophe”. He’s repeating the lines he’s given for the last few days on China, and China’s responsibility to exert leverage over North Korea.
The trade minister Steve Ciobo has stopped by the ABC studios to do an interview on the trade implications of the North Korean crisis. Overnight, the US government urged the UN security council to impose the toughest possible sanctions on the isolated dictatorship.
Ciobo says a trade war stemming from the stand-off on the peninsula would be bad for Australia, and bad for the world.
It is in no-one’s interest for an outbreak in trade hostilities.
Good morning everyone and welcome to Tuesday in Canberra, it’s delightful to have your company.
Two big events hang over politics-as-usual today. The first is the biggest story in the world at the moment – continuing concern over potential military conflict on the Korean peninsula. The second is a local challenge for the government – the high court will this morning begin two days of hearings into the legality of the Turnbull government’s postal plebiscite.
Link : Julie Bishop says Australia supports stronger UN resolution on North Korea – as it happened