FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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The effect of calling an election on Senate estimates hearings

The possibility of the federal election being called soon after the 2019–20 Budget on 2 April 2019 raises the question of what will happen with the Senate estimates hearings that are scheduled to be held over 4–12 April. Would calling the election prevent estimates hearings going ahead? Could the Senate require hearings to go ahead despite the calling of an election? Read more...

Casual re-employment: comings and goings due to Senate casual vacancies

Upon being re-appointed to the Senate on 10 September 2018 to fill the casual vacancy created by Andrew Bartlett’s resignation, Queensland (Qld) Greens Senator Larissa Waters becomes the first senator to return to the Senate after having been disqualified under section 44 of the Australian Constitution for holding dual citizenship. Senator Waters’ return is also notable because she is filling a Senate position originally made vacant by her own disqualification, subsequently filled by Andrew Bartlett, and made vacant again by Bartlett’s retirement on 27 August 2018. Read more...

Two parliamentary milestones for women—
75 years of women in the Commonwealth Parliament and Australia's 100th female senator

21 August 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the election of the first women to the Commonwealth Parliament. Enid Lyons of the United Australia Party and Dorothy Tangney of the Australian Labor Party were both elected on that day in 1943; Lyons to the House of Representatives and Tangney to the Senate. In addition, Dr Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens, NSW), who was sworn in as a senator on 20 August 2018, is Australia’s 100th female senator. Read more...

Voting by the crossbench in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 45th Parliament

30 August 2017 marked the completion of the first year of the 45th Parliament. In that time there has been continuing interest in the voting records of the Independent parliamentarians and minor parties in both Houses, particularly in the Senate where the Government requires eight out of the 19 crossbench votes (including the seven Australian Greens)  to pass legislation. The Parliamentary Library has compiled some statistics on the voting records of the minor parties and Independent MPs in both Houses in that time.  Read more...

The departures continue: constitutional disqualification from Parliament

Western Australian Green Scott Ludlam and Queensland Green Larissa Waters are now the third and fourth senators to have left the Senate since the last election due to ineligibility. Prior to the current term of Parliament, only five parliamentarians had ever lost their seats due to Constitutional eligibility reasons. Read more...

Bob Day found to be incapable of being chosen as a senator

On 5 April 2017 the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, handed down its decision in Re Day [No 2] [2017], HCA 14 regarding former South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day (Mr Day resigned from the Senate on 1 November 2016). The Court found that Mr Day was incapable of being chosen or sitting as a senator by reason of section 44(v) of the Australian Constitution, and ordered that the vacancy be filled by a recount.   Read more...

Rotation of senators following the 2016 double dissolution

Following a double dissolution election, section 13 of the Australian Constitution states that the Senate must decide which of the senators will serve a full six-year term and which will serve a three-year half term and face election at the next federal election.  Read more...

(Almost) everything you need to know about double dissolution elections

 Following the Senate’s rejection of the Building and Construction Industry bills on 18 April 2016, the Prime Minister announced on 19 April that he intended to advise the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of Parliament under powers provided by section 57 of the Australian Constitution, thus precipitating the first double dissolution election in 29 years (the last double dissolution election was in July 1987). The Prime Minister said that he expects the election to be held on 2 July 2016. Read more...

So you’ve been prorogued – Common questions answered

On 21 March 2016 the Prime Minister wrote to the Governor-General to ask the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament on Friday 15 April and summon Parliament to sit again on Monday 18 April 2016. This Flagpost examines what proroguing means for the operation of the Parliament and the possible implications for the Senate’s consideration of certain Bills. Read more...

Recent Senate electoral reform proposals

Reform of the Senate electoral system is once again in the news, with reports that the Government wants to pass legislation enabling reform before the budget sitting (that is, effectively by 17 March). Other reports are suggesting that the Australian Greens will produce their own Senate voting reform legislation. Unlike other recent discussions about Senate electoral system reform, the approaches currently being discussed do not follow the May 2014 recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which were outlined in a previous Flagpost. This Flagpost examines some of these new proposals with a particular focus on what constitutes a valid vote. Read more...

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