Good morning, early birds. Coalition and Labor eat the lunch of the minor parties, Tony Abbott gets major victory in plebiscites, and Peter Dutton goes postal. It’s the news you need to know, by Josh Taylor and Max Chalmers.
ABBOTT SCORES PARTY WIN
Although Tony Abbott has claimed the overwhelming win for his so-called Warringah Motion at the NSW Liberal Party is not about him, the former prime minister is pretty happy this morning. His proposal could mean candidates would be preselected to run in elections via plebiscite by party members, including preselection for already-elected MPs.
Abbott told The Daily Telegraph that the preselection plebiscite process would end the factional stitch-ups putting hacks in safe seats. Abbott has been trying to get this motion up for the past four years, and it passed 748 votes to 476 at the party’s convention on the weekend.
There’s still a long way to go, however. The motion will need to go through the NSW branch’s constitutional standing committee, and state council, and it is predicted that there could be many amendments before the change is finally put through. The so-called moderate factions of the Liberals have warned that a plebiscite policy needs safeguards to ensure against branch-stacking.
SHORTEN LOOKING FOR A FIX
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his appearance on ABC’s Insiders program yesterday to call for bipartisan support for fixed four-year terms for the federal government. A change like this would need to go to a referendum, however, and Shorten said that such a referendum would only pass if the major parties supported such a change:
“If Labor just said we wanted 4-year terms, it would fail. But I think that it is not about Labor or Liberal, I think it’s about the nation. I think the nation needs 4-year terms. Governments can be more daring and more determined if they’re not constantly thinking about the next election.”
Fairfax reports today that after Shorten’s comment, he received a call from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying he supported such a push, but noted that there were still many hurdles to overcome. The last time Australians voted on four-year (non-fixed) parliamentary terms in 1988, it only got 33% of the vote, and the Coalition opposition at the time withdrew its support for it.
MAJORS EATING MINORS’ LUNCH
Labor has maintained its lead over the government in the latest Newspoll, 53-47 two-party preferred. The Australian has looked for the upside, however, suggesting that one point movement in first preference votes from One Nation to the Coalition, and from Greens to Labor, suggests that the major parties are clawing back some of the votes lost to the minor parties, as the Greens face party turmoil over the loss of two deputy leaders, while the government goes hard on national security issues.
Turnbull is still the preferred prime minister over Shorten, 43 to 32.
For those keeping tabs, this is the 16th Newspoll in a row the government has lost. Over halfway to the magical number that Turnbull mentioned in his challenging Abbott almost two years ago.
DUTTON GOES POSTAL
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has given the strongest indication yet that the government may look to pursue a postal plebiscite to resolve the issue of marriage equality in this Parliament. He told Sky News on Sunday that given the Senate continues to block what would be a compulsory ballot-box style plebiscite on the matter, the “next best option” would be a postal plebiscite.
A postal plebiscite would be much cheaper than the one the government had wanted, but because legislation isn’t required to hold one, it would not be compulsory. Those who support marriage equality suggest that it would not be legitimate — it would favour the “no” side because older people are much more likely to vote on it than younger people, and polling suggests older people are less likely to support marriage equality. Unsurprisingly, most of those opposed to marriage equality are keen for any type of plebiscite to go ahead one way or another.
It appears to be a move from the far right of the Coalition aimed at thwarting a private member’s bill from Liberal Senator Dean Smith that he is seeking to have debated in the Liberal party room, and then eventually in Parliament.
Crikey already reported that in March the planning for a postal plebiscite had gone as far as being prepared for cabinet, suggesting that if the government does go ahead, it already has a plan ready to go.
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Canberra: Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne to speak about his plans for making Australia a defence product exporter.
Melbourne: Rosie Batty will speak at a parliamentary inquiry into the family law system and support for people affected by family violence.
Adelaide: The ACCC commences its court case against Heinz for claiming the snack food Shredz is healthy for kids when it contains over 60% sugar.
Not the retiring type: Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd can’t let go — Jacqueline Maley (The Age): “What to call this generation of unretired political operatives? ‘Nyppies’ doesn’t quite capture it, and ‘Owls’ sounds too cuddly. ‘Pests’ will do just as well — no acronym required.”
For a fairer tax system why not reduce its complexity? — Adam Creighton (The Australian $): “The incentive to avoid tax in Australia is poised to rise, regardless of who wins the next election. The gap between the top marginal income tax rate and the corporate rate of 30 per cent underpins the bulk of the tax avoidance industry in Australia.”
Radical approach to Indigenous recognition is destined to fail — James Paterson (The Age): “All that is clear is that this body is based on the premise that the Parliament does not represent all Australians, and that some Australians should have another representative body because of their race. This undermines the core liberal democratic value that everyone should be treated equally before the law, regardless of race or any other individual characteristic.”
JERUSALEM CONFLICT SPREADS
At least one Jordanian has been killed in a shooting incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, with two Israelis also reportedly injured.
The attack comes at a time of extreme tension over control of Jerusalem’s most contentious site, known variously as Al-Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount. Earlier this month, three gunmen killed two Israeli police at the holy site, leading Israel to impose new restrictions and new security checks, which in turn provoked large-scale resistance and protest among Palestinians. There have also been large protests in Jordan, which maintains diplomatic relations with Israel and controlled East Jerusalem prior to 1967.
Hundreds of Palestinians have now been injured and a number killed. On Friday, three Israelis living in the West Bank settlement of Halamish were murdered in their kitchen by a knife-wielding Palestinian assailant. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has broken off security coordination with Israel, while Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has, by some accounts, boxed himself into a corner and made de-escalation politically fraught.
British cyclist Chris Froome has claimed the 2017 Tour de France, earning his fourth victory and another triumph for Team Sky. It was a good weekend for British sports fans, with the English women’s cricket team beating India in the world cup final. — The Guardian
Donald Trump will not veto legislation placing Russia under new sanctions. The sanctions have emerged from Congress as retaliation for Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election. The issue is likely to again dominate US politics for the week, with Trump aids and family members set to speak to congressional investigators, and Trump tweeting that he has the “complete power to pardon”. — New York Times
WHAT WE’RE READING
Yes, Trump can pardon himself. Then all hell would break loose (Politico): “A self-pardon would be something new in American history — and just the kind of departure from prior norms that typifies Trump. The Constitution doesn’t specify whether the president can pardon himself, and no court has ever ruled on the issue, because no president has ever been brazen enough to try it.”
Meet the GOP insider who created white nationalist Richard Spencer (Reveal): “In a 1999 speech at a right-wing conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida, Regnery went public with his racial fears. White couples weren’t having enough babies, he declared, and the government was allowing in hordes of nonwhite immigrants ‘as if to hasten our demise’. His solution: a reconfigured continent broken up into separate racial and religious enclaves.”
It’s okay to be a coward about cancer (Time): “You don’t battle cancer. You don’t fight it. If cancer wants you it sneaks into your room at night and just takes you. The ‘tough guy’ narrative is seductive. It suggests we have control over our fate, that we can will cancer away. These are lies we tell ourselves.”
In Minneapolis, unusual police killing raises an old outcry: why? (New York Times): “What made this shooting particularly bizarre, to veteran police officers, was that Officer Noor fired at close range past his partner. “
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