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Death of Democrat co-founder Jack Evans

Death of Democrat co-founder Jack Evans

News has come through that Jack Evans, a pivotal person in the founding and development of the Australian Democrats, has died at the age of 80. It is always dangerous to single individuals out, but Jack Evans and Sid Spindler, alongside Don Chipp, were amongst the most crucial people in getting the Democrats established and functional.  Sadly all three […]

December double dissolution threat a joke

December double dissolution threat a joke

Judging from what I’ve read, it seems I am more open than most in thinking there is a credible possibility that the Prime Minister might call an early double dissolution election – assuming the political environment at the time suits it (and assuming he gets a trigger).  A chance to strengthen their Lower House majority […]

Debates on refugees - then and now

Debates on refugees - then and now

In December last year, a report from the federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration unanimously recommended that “as a priority, the Australian Government introduce legislation to repeal the liability of immigration detention costs.”   That is, the law which raises a debt against people in immigration detention to cover the cost of their detention.  Legislation […]

Care about out democracy? Read this & spread the word

Care about out democracy? Read this & spread the word

If you are only going to read one thing about how Australia’s federal Parliament works – and more importantly how it doesn’t work – read this fabulous piece by the long-standing Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans. Among many things, he highlights the fact that the supposed ‘Westminster system’ we are repeatedly told Australia has, […]

Senate stresses into final week

Senate stresses into final week

The Senate is moving into its final sitting week until mid-August. As is usually the case, the government has a large pile of legislation it is insisting absolutely must be dealt by the end of the week. As is also often the case, this includes one highly contentious piece of legislation – the Carbon Pollution […]

Barnaby & the future of the Nationals

Barnaby & the future of the Nationals

The Nationals’ Senate Leader, Barnaby Joyce, gave an address to the National Press Club yesterday where his key theme was the need for the Nationals to more clearly distinguish themselves from the Liberals. He said “the 2007 Federal election loss was a devastating event for the Federal National Party, not only because it saw us out […]

Win-win for Families! Cheaper grog, while mega-donations stay secret

Win-win for Families! Cheaper grog, while mega-donations stay secret

I in no way cast aspersions on the genuineness of Family First Senator Steve Fielding’s concern about alcohol abuse. But he certainly has a very strange idea of what constitutes a good outcome when it comes to reducing it.  His vote in the Senate resulted directly in alcoholic soda pops being made substantially cheaper, while […]

Putting families first by keeping political donations secret?!

Putting families first by keeping political donations secret?!

It’s probably redundant to express bafflement at Steve Fielding’s actions in the Senate, so instead I’ll state that I’m flabbergasted at the Family First Senator’s decision this week to block an attempt to restore some transparency to political donations in Australia.  It’s hard to see how Australian families benefit from enabling the wealthy to keep […]

Senate debate starts on workplace law changes

Senate debate starts on workplace law changes

Given public statements made by both the Coalition and the Greens, it is very hard to see a majority of the Senate insisting on any amendments it makes, should the government reject them in the House of Representatives. This means Labor will make the eventual decision on what type of amendments, if any, they are willing to wear and the Senate debate will serve mainly as a vehicle for the various parties to do some positioning on what is still a politically significant issue.

A stimulating time for the cross-benches

A stimulating time for the cross-benches

It seems like a long time ago, but it is actually only six months that the new Senate convened in parliament House for the first time. It was a significantly different Senate in two ways. Firstly, it was the first since 1977 without a single Australian Democrat Senator on the cross-benches.  Secondly, it shifted the […]