This Week In Politics

17th – 23rd October, 2016

It can be tough to keep up with the happenings on Capital Hill at the best of times, but that is where TWIP has got you covered. At the conclusion of each sitting week, Keny Arcangeli offers Woroni readers a brief overview of the significant events that occurred in the Australian parliament, allowing us all to stay informed and sound smart.

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Adler Shotgun Tussle

On Monday, Liberal-Democrat Senator, David Leyonhjelm, called for the Adler seven-shot lever-action shotgun to be removed from the temporary import ban list. He claimed that Tony Abbott, whilst he was Prime Minister, promised to introduce a sunset clause to remove the rapid-fire shotgun from the embargo. While Tony Abbott denied such claims in an appearance on the 7.30 report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later revealed that the Prime Minister’s cabinet had been aware that such a deal was on the floor of parliament. In the end, the states and territories, despite opposition from New South Wales, decided to maintain the ban.

Senator Bob Day’s Resignation

On Monday, Family First Senator, Bob Day, announced he was resigning from parliament to attend to his building company, the Home Australia group, which is facing liquidation. This follows consistent absences from recent Senate sittings despite having attempted to resolve the situation since the election. Day has also written off his own $1.47 million loan to the Family First Party in order to reduce his debts, which has sparked calls for transparency and insight into party loans and funding. The Senator’s Chief-of-Staff, Rikki Lambert, has signalled that he wishes to nominate for the casual vacancy, and so too has Senator Day’s running mate from the state of South Australia, Kenyan-born law graduate, Lucy Gichuhi. The position is expected to be filled by the end of the year, following its passing in the South Australian parliament.

Indigenous treatment in incarceration

Senator Pat Dodson, in a Senates estimates hearing regarding the justice system and the Don Dale youth detention centre, has blasted Senator and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, over the Minister’s behaviour and performance in solving the issue of the horrific treatment of indigenous youths in incarceration. Senator Dodson, who was a royal commissioner in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1987-91, insisted that the Minister re-read the Royal Commission’s report, and be less ignorant of the issue. This follows claims that the Minister was aware of the revealing Four Corners report on the Don Dale youth detention centre, yet failed to view the report or even act on the issue at the time of discovery.

Triggs under Fire

Australia’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor Gillian Triggs, has faced immense backlash after she withdrew evidence that she had provided to a parliamentary committee. She also gave an interview to ‘The Saturday Paper’, in which she commented that “seriously ill-informed and uneducated” politicians were criticising her performance. This received a response from the Leader of the Government in the House and Minister for Defence Industry, saying that Professor Triggs shouldn’t comment on the ability of politicians, and instead, should focus on the issue of human rights.

Plebiscite

On Thursday, the government rushed through the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill, after having gagged debate and preventing up to 20 MPs speaking on the issue. It passed in the lower house – 76 votes for, to 67 against. The bill will have to be voted on by the upper house within the next 10 days, which means by the end of this upcoming sitting week. Prime Minister Turnbull has not indicated whether there will be an alternate solution to achieving Same-Sex Marriage if this bill fails to be passed by the Senate, which is what is predicted to occur with Labor, the Greens and NXT already announcing they will vote against.