COALITION ON THE ROCS
Australia could have a new acting prime minister, a fresh National Party leader, and a locked-in result for the marriage equality survey by the end of the day.
Today is the last day for Australians to mail back their marriage survey forms and have it guaranteed they will be counted. The Australian Bureau of Statistics formally closes the voting period on November 7 with the results t0 be published November 15.
It’s also D-Day for the seven MPs caught up in the dual-citizenship scandal, with the High Court set to hand down its decision. If Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce is ruled ineligible, NT Senator and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion is expected to become the party’s leader. With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull departing for Israel this evening, Julie Bishop will take over as acting PM should Joyce fall foul of the law.
According to The Australian, if the court does give Barnaby the boot, writs for a byelection in his seat of New England will be issued immediately, with voting to take place as early as December 2. It would also cause chaos for the government, with decisions made by Joyce as far back as October last year subject to legal challenge, according to advice received (and leaked) by Labor.
Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey
Choose what you pay, from $99.
The other potential causality of the day remains Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, though Turnbull said yesterday she had acted “entirely properly”. Cash has now asked the Registered Organisations Commission to consider referring the leaking of a raid on the Australian Workers’ Union to the Australia Federal Police — the same organisation that conducted the raid.
Bernard Keane argues Cash should have already resigned over the appointment of law-breaking ABCC head Nigel Hadgkiss — but if she really was misled by her staffer over the AFP leak, it’s not a sacking offence.
There has been a furious and despondent reaction to cabinet’s decision to dump a proposal to hold a referendum on establishing a permanent Indigenous advisory body to parliament.
The Courier-Mail yesterday reported cabinet had rejected the plan, proposed after a historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at Uluru in May. The proposal was formally adopted by the Referendum Council in July, which urged the government to take a single question to the electorate.
According to the Courier-Mail, the plan was taken to cabinet by Attorney-General George Brandis and Nigel Scullion but “emphatically” rejected by Malcolm Turnbull and others. Government ministers have now publicly defended the decision on the basis the proposal was too ambitious and would have been defeated at a referendum.
But it’s also clear Turnbull and his team remain opposed to the idea itself, with a statement from the PM saying the government “does not believe such an addition to our national representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance” and called the plan “a radical change”.
The Referendum Council’s Noel Pearson said Turnbull had “broken the First Nations hearts of this country” while Rod Little, co-chair of peak body National Congress, lamented that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been let down once again.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Round the country: The last day for people to post their same-sex marriage surveys and be guaranteed to have them counted. All surveys must reach the ABS 6pm on November 7.
Canberra: High Court to hand down its finding on the Citizenship Seven case, determining the future of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Sydney: State and territory treasurers meet with Scott Morrison. Yesterday, New South Wales Liberal Treasurer Dominic Perrottet goaded state leaders to create a new treasurers forum that excluded the federal minister.
Sydney: Managing editor of the New York Times Joseph Kahn delivers the Andrew Olle Lecture.
Canberra: Senate estimates continues with Indigenous Affairs up.
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE