Australia’s Parliament House in 2019: a Chronology of Events

21 December 2020

PDF version [3.2MB]

Dr Michael Sloane
Politics and Public Administration section

Introduction

Parliament House, which was officially opened in 1988, is the home of the Parliament of Australia. It is located on a 32-hectare site on Capital Hill in Canberra.

In 2013 the Parliamentary Library published a chronology of events, Australia’s Parliament House—More Than 25 Years in the Making!, in recognition of the building’s 25th anniversary. In May 2018, to mark the 30th anniversary of Parliament House, that chronology was updated and reissued as The 30th anniversary of Australia’s Parliament House.

The Library has also published chronologies to cover non-anniversary years. Australia’s Parliament House in 2014 and 2015: a Chronology of Events highlighted significant milestones associated with Australia’s Parliament House and the Parliament itself between January 2014 and December 2015. Australia’s Parliament House in 2016: a Chronology of Events, Australia’s Parliament House in 2017: a Chronology of Events and Australia’s Parliament House in 2018: a Chronology of Events continued the story. This chronology does likewise for 2019.

This chronology of events has been compiled from published sources and includes images and links to audio-visual and documentary records. Appendix 1 presents a list of notable legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in 2019.

Abbreviations

AG Australian Greens
ALP Australian Labor Party
ASD Australian Signals Directorate
CA Centre Alliance
CLP Country Liberal Party
DPS Department of Parliamentary Services
Hon. Honourable
Ind. Independent
LDP Liberal Democratic Party
Lib. Liberal Party of Australia
Lib. (Cth) Commonwealth Liberal Party
NP The Nationals
UAP United Australia Party

 

Milestones

Details

Source document

21 January

David Bushby resigns from the Senate

Senator David Bushby (Lib., Tas.) resigns from the Senate. He first entered the Senate in 2007 and served as the Government Chief Whip from 2014 until his resignation. Senator Bushby’s resignation follows the announcement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne (Lib., NSW), that he would be appointed as Australia’s next Consul-General in Chicago.[1]

David Bushby
David Bushby
Image Source: Auspic

8 February

Cyber attack on parliamentary computer network

It is reported that a cyber attack on the parliamentary computing network has been detected.[2] The Presiding Officers make statements to each chamber on 12 February outlining measures the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) took, in consultation with the Cyber Security Centre and Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), after the breach had been identified.[3]

In a later statement on this attack, and on other attacks on the networks of Australian political parties, Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Lib., Cook, NSW) indicates that the Government’s cyber security experts believe ‘a sophisticated state actor’ is responsible.[4]

The President of the Senate, Senator Scott Ryan (Lib., Vic.), provides further details about the incident in a Senate estimates hearing later in the year, stating that a ‘small amount of non-sensitive data was taken from the network.’[5]

 

11 February

Senator Storer crowdsources questions

Senator Tim Storer (Ind., SA) announces that he will ask the South Australian public to vote on the topic of questions he will address to the government in question time. He states that his aim is to ‘better bring the people into the parliamentary process’ and that ‘In the internet age, there is no reason for voters to only have their say on polling day.’[6]

Senator Storer asks the first question chosen in this manner on 14 February about the Murray-Darling Basin.[7]

Tim Storer
Tim Storer
Image source: Auspic

12 February

Government defeat in the House of Representatives

The minority Morrison Government is unable to prevent the House considering, amending and then agreeing to Senate amendments to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018.[8] The contentious Senate amendments seek to give greater weight to medical opinion when determining whether a medical evacuation from a regional processing country should occur.

While the defeat of government legislation in the House of Representatives is very rare and has on occasion been treated as an indication of the House’s loss of confidence in a government, this matter is not considered to be a question of confidence.[9]

Prior to debate commencing, the Attorney-General, Christian Porter (Lib., Pearce, WA), wrote to the Speaker arguing that the House should set aside the Senate amendments on the grounds that they did not comply with sections 53 and 56 of the Australian Constitution. This correspondence, including advice from the Solicitor-General, was tabled by the Speaker, who also outlined past practice in such circumstances.[10] The issue was resolved by successful amendments proposed by the Labor Party.[11]

House of Representatives chamber
House of Representatives chamber

12 February

World record fundraising journey

Norman Bartie arrives at Parliament House after travelling from Brisbane to Canberra in an excavator with the aim of raising funds for a not-for-profit organisation supporting children affected by domestic violence.[12] Beginning and ending in Brisbane and visiting Townsville, Toowoomba, Albury and Canberra, Mr Bartie covered 5,649 kilometres and set a world record for the longest journey in an excavator.[13]

 

12 February

Security checks for ministers proposed

Senator Rex Patrick (CA, SA) introduces the Ministers of State (Checks for Security Purposes) Bill 2019, which seeks to require the Prime Minister to direct the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to provide a report on any security matters arising from examination of the personal background and circumstances of Ministers of State. Senator Patrick states in debate on the bill:

I suggested that most Australians would be unaware and would think it very odd that our ministers who access briefings from all of our intelligence services, see sensitive information from foreign governments, get access to sensitive information from companies and generate their own sensitive information are not security cleared.[14]

The bill is referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, which recommends, in November 2019, that it not be passed.[15]

Rex Patrick
Rex Patrick
Image source: Auspic

13 February

Portrait of Linda Burney unveiled

A portrait of Linda Burney (ALP, Barton, NSW) is unveiled in a ceremony held in the Members’ Hall. In 2016 Ms Burney became the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the House of Representatives.[16] She was also the first Indigenous person to be elected to the New South Wales Parliament in 2003.[17]

The Hon Linda Burney MP, 2018, Oil on canvas
Jude Rae (born 1956), The Hon Linda Burney MP, 2018, Oil on canvas, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra
Image source: DPS

13 February

Protesters occupy the Marble Foyer

A group of protesters occupy the Marble Foyer seeking to highlight the impact of a number of environmental issues on Indigenous people. The group remains for more than an hour before leaving without intervention by Parliament House security or police.[18]

 

13 February

Conduct of member raised as a matter of Privilege

The Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke (ALP, Watson, NSW) raises as a matter of privilege the conduct of the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Tim Wilson (Lib., Goldstein, Vic.), in relation to that committee’s inquiry into the implications of removing refundable franking credits. Matters raised include actions relating to the scheduling of committee hearings and the display or distribution of party materials at committee hearings.[19]

After considering these matters, the Speaker states on 21 February that although the actions of Mr Wilson ‘could be seen to have caused damage to the committee’s reputation and the reputation of the House committee system more generally’, he does not consider that these actions had ‘prevented the committee in a fundamental way from continuing to fulfil its basic responsibilities in relation to its inquiry work.’[20] The Speaker declines to give precedence to a motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests, but does note that the chair’s actions had ‘not always conformed with what I see as the conventions usually observed by chairs of House committees and the practice of House committees.’[21]

Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson
Image source: Auspic

14 February

Closing the Gap statement

The Prime Minister tables the Closing the Gap: Report 2019 and makes a statement to the chamber. He reports that of the seven Closing the Gap targets only two (relating to the proportion of Indigenous children in early childhood education and year 12 attainment) are on track.[22] Reflecting on this situation, he states:

…while there has been incremental and meaningful progress on many fronts, as of 2019 only two of the seven Closing the Gap targets are on track. What we're doing has to change, and our government is leading a process to change it.

That is why, two years ago—and I acknowledge the former Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull—we embarked on a Closing the Gap refresh—because our efforts were not meeting our worthy ambitions, shared by all us.[23]

In response, the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic.) states:

…the truth is that, at this 11th Closing the Gap exchange, I'm frustrated. I suspect that many members of the House feel that frustration too—frustration and disappointment that, after a decade of good intentions and tens of thousands of well-meaning, well-crafted, well-intentioned and heartfelt words from five prime ministers, we assemble here and we see that not enough has changed.[24]

Closing the Gap Report 2019
Closing the Gap Report 2019

Watch: Statements by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (from 10:02:45)

14 February

Hakeem al-Araibi welcomed back to Australia

Hakeem al-Araibi, a professional footballer who had sought asylum in Australia in 2014 after fleeing persecution in Bahrain, is welcomed at Parliament House after being released by Thai authorities. Mr al-Araibi had travelled to Thailand to celebrate his honeymoon and was detained there at the request of Bahrain. Mr al-Araibi meets with politicians, including the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and those who were instrumental in campaigning to prevent his extradition to Bahrain, including former Socceroo Craig Foster.[25]

Hakeem al-Araibi meets with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Craig Foster at Parliament House
Hakeem al-Araibi meets with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Craig Foster at Parliament House
Image source: Scott Morrison Twitter account

14 February

Senate President revokes staffer’s building access

In response to media reports of a physical altercation between Senator Brian Burston (UAP, NSW) and One Nation staff member James Ashby on the evening of 13 February, the President of the Senate announces that, with the agreement of the Speaker, he has exercised his authority to revoke Mr Ashby’s building access due to his ‘inappropriate behaviour’ towards a senator.’[26] Mr Ashby is allowed to reapply for access to Parliament House in June 2019.[27]

 

15 February

Jacinta Collins resigns from the Senate

Senator Jacinta Collins (ALP, Vic.) resigns from the Senate.[28] Senator Collins first entered the Senate in 1995. She was defeated at the 2004 election, but returned to the Senate in 2008 and served until her retirement in 2019. She was Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations from 2010 to 2013, and briefly served as Minister for Mental Health and Ageing in 2013. Senator Collins also held a number of party positions, including Manager of Government Business in the Senate. After leaving the Senate, Ms Collins takes up a position as the Executive Director of the National Catholic Education Commission.[29]

Jacinta Collins
Jacinta Collins
Image source: Auspic

18 February

House agrees to Senate disability Royal Commission resolution

On 14 February the Senate agrees to a motion sponsored by senators Jordon Steele-John (AG, WA), Carol Brown (ALP, Tas.) and Stirling Griff (CA, SA) calling on the government to establish a Royal Commission to inquire into ‘violence, abuse and neglect of people with a disability’, despite Government opposition.[30]

When the House of Representatives considers the Senate resolution on 18 February, Prime Minister Morrison states that the Government supports the establishment of a Royal Commission but notes that the terms of reference require further consideration.[31]

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is subsequently established in April 2019.[32] A number of organisations and advocates from the disability sector express concern that positions previously held by two commissioners present potential conflicts of interest. Senators Steele-John and Brown raise these concerns in a successful Senate motion on 25 July.[33]

Jordon Steele-John
Jordon Steele-John
Image source: Auspic

19 February

70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Israel

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, make statements in the House of Representatives acknowledging the 70th anniversary of Australia’s formal diplomatic relationship with Israel. The Israeli ambassador is welcomed to the chamber to hear the statements.[34]

The Israeli Ambassador in the House of Representatives
The Israeli Ambassador in the House of Representatives

Watch: Statements by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition (from 15:14:00)

19 February

Retirement of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

The Speaker announces that the Clerk of the House, David Elder, intends to resign later in the year.[35] Mr Elder’s last day at the table occurs on 1 August, when the House agrees to a motion recording its appreciation of ‘the long and meritorious service to the Parliament by the Clerk of the House’ and extending ‘to him and his wife and family every wish for a healthy and happy retirement.’[36]

The Speaker makes the following comments on Mr Elder’s service to the House:

David, as we recognise your last day here in the House, we reflect on your incredible public service and your service to this House of Representatives. In your 38 years, beginning in 1981, you have seen nine different prime ministers, 14 different speakers and 17 leaders of the opposition. But, as you know, David—and this might surprise members—you are only the 16th Clerk of the House of Representatives since Federation ... You've been a great leader here in the House of Representatives. You've served your House and our nation with distinction.[37]

Members applaud following the announcement of Mr Elder’s intention to retire
Members applaud following the announcement of Mr Elder’s intention to retire
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Statement by the Speaker (from 15:14:00)

21 February

Julie Bishop announces retirement from politics

Julie Bishop (Lib., Curtin, WA) announces that she does not intend to contest the seat of Curtin at the upcoming election. Ms Bishop was first elected in 1998 and held a number of ministerial roles in the Howard government. She was Minister for Foreign Affairs in both the Abbott and Turnbull governments (2013 to 2018) and was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party from 2007 to 2018. She also unsuccessfully contested the leadership of the Liberal Party following the leadership spill of August 2018. In announcing her retirement she states:

It has been an immense honour to be the longest serving member for Curtin and also to have been the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party—the first female to hold the role for 11 years—over half my entire political career. I'm also proud of the fact that I am the first woman to have contested the leadership ballot of the Liberal Party in its 75-year history.[38]

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop
Image source: Auspic

Watch: Ms Bishop’s retirement announcement (from 15:39:00)

Late February–early April

Valedictory speeches begin

Due to uncertainty about the timing of the election, senators and members begin making valedictory statements in late February and continue when the Parliament briefly returns in early April to enable the Morrison government to present a budget.[39]

 

1 March

Ministerial resignations and cabinet changes

Two cabinet ministers announce they intend to leave their positions. Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne (Lib., Sturt, SA), remains in his role until the election, which he does not recontest, while Minister for Defence Industry, Steven Ciobo (Lib., Moncrieff, Qld), leaves the ministry immediately and also does not contest the election. [40]

The following ministers have already announced they will not contest the election but will remain in their roles until then: Minister for Human Services and Minister for Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan (Lib., Stirling, WA), Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion (CLP, NT) and Minister for Women and Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, Kelly O’Dwyer (Lib., Higgins, Vic.)[41]

Senator Linda Reynolds (Lib., WA), formerly the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, is promoted to cabinet on 2 March 2019 to replace Mr Ciobo as Minister for Defence Industry.[42]

Christopher Pyne
Christopher Pyne
Image source: Auspic

Steven Ciobo
Steven Ciobo
Image source: Auspic

1 March

David Leyonhjelm resigns

Senator David Leyonhjelm (LDP, NSW) resigns from Parliament, having served on the crossbench since entering the Senate in the 2014. In his valedictory speech on 13 February 2019 Senator Leyonhjelm states that he intends to continue in politics by contesting the New South Wales Legislative Council election on 23 March 2019.[43] Despite initially claiming victory after polling day, Mr Leyonhjelm ultimately fails to gain a seat.[44]

David Leyonhjelm
David Leyonhjelm
Image source: Auspic

16 March

Australian Flags flown at half-mast after Christchurch attack

Following a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March in which 51 people were killed and more than 50 injured, Australian National Flags at buildings and establishments occupied by the Australian Government are flown at half-mast as a mark of mourning and respect.[45]

 

30 March

Security upgrade project contractor goes into liquidation

It is reported that Steelvision, a firm that had been sub-contracted by Lendlease to undertake works as part of an extensive security upgrade project at Parliament House, has gone into liquidation owing 400 businesses a total of $21 million. The security works are reported to be 15 months behind schedule.[46]

The President of the Senate, Senator Scott Ryan, (Lib., Vic.) makes statements explaining the approach of DPS to managing these events in Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee estimates hearings, both before and after Steelvision goes into liquidation.[47]

 

2 April

Treasurer delivers 2019 budget

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg (Lib., Kooyong, Vic.) delivers the 2019 budget, his first. He states:

Tonight, I announce that the Budget is back in the black and Australia is back on track.

For the first time in 12 years, our nation is again paying its own way.

We have made real progress, but we know the job is not done.[48]

In his budget reply speech on 4 April the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, states:

… a budget should sketch the big picture, build for the long term, write Australia large, be ambitious, be as bold as the Australian people. That's what a Labor government will do: strive for the best, because Australians deserve the best.[49]

The budget is usually delivered in May but had been brought forward to accommodate the Government’s election timetable.[50] As there is no opportunity to pass the Appropriation Bills before the end of the Parliament, Supply Bills are introduced and passed to provide funding for the early part of the next financial year.[51]

Josh Frydenberg delivers the 2019 budget speech
Josh Frydenberg delivers the 2019 budget speech
Image source: Parlview

Watch: the Treasurer’s budget speech (from 19:31:00)

2 April

New senators sworn in

Senators Raff Ciccone (ALP, Vic.), Duncan Spender (LDP, NSW) and Wendy Askew (Lib., Tas.) are sworn in. These senators were chosen to fill casual vacancies created by the resignations of senators Collins, Leyonhjelm and Bushby (see entries above).[52]

Raph Ciccone
Raph Ciccone
Image source: Auspic

Duncan Spender
Duncan Spender
Image source: Auspic

Wendy Askew
Wendy Askew
Image source: Auspic

2 April

Condolence motions for victims of the Christchurch attack

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition speak on a condolence motion for the victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March.[53] The Speaker also conveys to the House a message from the Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives.[54] Senators also speak to a similar motion.[55]

The Prime Minister speaks on a condolence motion for the victims of the Christchurch attack
The Prime Minister speaks on a condolence motion for the victims of the Christchurch attack
Image source: Parlview

Watch: the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition speak on the condolence motion (from 14:01:40)

2 April

New electronic division recording system in the House

The Speaker announces to the House of Representatives that tellers will now use iPads to record votes during divisions, in place of the previous system that relied on paper and clipboards. This change does not alter the process of voting for members, but does allow faster publication of division results.[56] The system is first used the following day.[57]

Members use an iPad to record a division in the House of Representatives
Members use an iPad to record a division in the House of Representatives
Image source: Auspic

3 April

Senator Anning censured by the Senate

The Senate agrees to a motion censuring Senator Fraser Anning (Ind., Qld) in relation to his comments about the causes of the Christchurch terrorist attack.[58]

A petition signed by more than 1.4 million people had been tabled the previous day, calling for the removal of Senator Anning from the Parliament.[59] However, as noted by the President, the Senate lacks the power to expel a senator and may only suspend a senator in cases of disorder or to protect the ability of the Senate and senators to perform their constitutional roles.[60]

Fraser Anning
Fraser Anning
Image source: Auspic

3 and 4 April 2019

Qualifications of senators and members

Parallel motions are agreed to in the Senate and the House of Representatives establishing registers of members and senators qualifications and procedures for dealing with questions concerning qualifications.[61] These measures replace existing interim arrangements and are implemented following a report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters of May 2018 concerning the operation of section 44 of the Constitution, and the implementation of an eligibility checklist for candidates at federal elections through the passage of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018.[62]

 

4 April

Speaker exercises casting vote

The Speaker exercises a casting vote when a tied division occurs on a government motion that the House does not concur in a Senate resolution relating to water management in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Speaker initially indicates he will cast a vote for the ‘ayes’—meaning the motion would succeed—but, after hearing several points of order, determines to cast his vote for the ‘noes’ on the grounds that he ‘shouldn’t vote to create a majority on an issue when a majority doesn’t exist.’[63] The Speaker further clarifies the practice with respect to the exercise of a casting vote on 31 July in a statement to the House in response to a press article.[64]

The Speaker uses his casting vote following a tied vote.
The Speaker uses his casting vote following a tied vote.
Image source: Parlview
Watch: The Speaker alters his casting vote following a number of points of order (from 18:32:30)

11 April

David Smith resigns from the Senate

Senator David Smith (ALP, ACT) resigns in order to contest the newly created seat of Bean. Senator Smith entered the Senate on 23 May 2018 after Senator Katy Gallagher was disqualified under section 44(i) of the Constitution. As a senator representing a territory, Senator Smith’s term would otherwise have concluded on the day of the federal election a few weeks later (18 May).[65] Mr Smith is elected as the first Member for Bean at the election.

David Smith
David Smith
Image sources: Auspic

11 April

Election called, 45th Parliament ends

The Governor-General accepts the Prime Minister’s advice that an election be held on 18 May. He issues a proclamation proroguing the 45th Parliament and dissolving the House of Representatives, and, separately, issues writs for a House of Representatives general election and for the election of senators for the two territories (writs for the election of state senators are the responsibility of state governors).[66]

In anticipation of the election being called shortly after the delivery of the Budget, the Senate had brought forward Budget Estimates hearings to commence on the Thursday of Budget week and continue until 12 April. The prorogation of the Parliament on 11 April therefore has the unusual effect of preventing two days of scheduled estimates hearings from occurring.[67]

The Clerk of the House of Representatives posts a copy of the Governor-General’s proclamation proroguing the Parliament and dissolving the House of Representatives outside the chamber.
The Clerk of the House of Representatives posts a copy of the Governor-General’s proclamation proroguing the Parliament and dissolving the House of Representatives outside the chamber.
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Reading of the Governor-General’s proclamation proroguing the 45th Parliament (from 8:29:00).

11 April–18 May

Election Campaign

The 2019 election campaign spans 37 days. The Coalition bases its campaign on the budget delivered on 2 April.[68]

The campaign period sees a high number of candidates either resigning or being disendorsed by their parties, including ten candidates whose names remained on the ballot paper.[69]

Former member for Fairfax from 2013 to 2016, Clive Palmer, contests the Queensland Senate election as the leader of his United Australia Party. Mr Palmer spends an estimated $60 million on advertising during the campaign, in which his party runs 22 Senate candidates and 151 House of Representatives candidates.[70] He also unsuccessfully challenges, in the High Court, the AEC’s practice of publishing two-candidate preferred counts.[71]

 

16 May

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke dies

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke dies aged 89. After serving as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions from 1970 to 1980, Mr Hawke was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980. He became leader of the ALP in February 1983, and Prime Minister after the federal election the following month. Mr Hawke served as Prime Minister until December 1991, and resigned from the Parliament in February 1992. Mr Hawke is the third longest-serving Australian Prime Minister and the longest-serving ALP Prime Minister.[72]

Bob Hawke
Bob Hawke
Image source: Auspic

 

18 May

Election Day

The 2019 federal election is held. The Coalition is returned to government with a narrow majority in the House of Representatives (77 of 151 seats).[73] In the Senate the election leaves the Coalition with 35 seats to the ALP’s 26, with nine Australian Greens and six other senators making up the crossbench.[74]

The election result in the House of Representatives is very similar to the 2016 result, although opinion polling had consistently suggested the government would lose office. The causes of this polling failure are the subject of subsequent speculation and inquiries.[75] On the evening of election day, Bill Shorten concedes defeat and announces his intention to resign as Leader of the ALP.[76]

Ballot boxes
Ballot boxes
Image source: AEC images

26 May

Second Morrison ministry announced

Prime Minister Morrison announces the ministry he intends to recommend to the Governor-General.[77] Among the changes are the elevation of Stuart Robert (Lib., Fadden, Qld) and Ken Wyatt (Lib., Hasluck, WA) to Cabinet.[78]

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Announcement of the second Morrison Ministry (from 15:08:00)

26 May

Senators Sinodinos and Fifield to be appointed to ambassadorships

While announcing his new ministry Prime Minister Morrison also announces his intention to appoint Senator Arthur Sinodinos (Lib., NSW) as Ambassador to the United States of America and Senator Mitch Fifield (Lib., Vic.) as Ambassador to the United Nations.[79]

Arthur Sinodinos
Arthur Sinodinos
Image source: Auspic

Mitch Fifield
Mitch Fifield
Image Source: Auspic

27 May–3 June

Reconciliation Week at Parliament House

During Reconciliation Week, and for several months afterwards, Parliament House hosts two exhibitions relating to Indigenous Australians:

  • My Voice My Country displays electoral education, information and promotional materials produced by the AEC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. This material is sourced from the AIATSIS collection.
  • Indigenous Design Now displays Indigenous contemporary design in fields including graphic and interior design, fashion, jewellery, sculpture, textiles, architecture and furniture.

Professor Tom Calma delivers the Parliamentary Library’s National Reconciliation Week lecture on 29 May.

You can have your say poster card, (detail) (1979), Australian Electoral Office, AIATSIS Collection
You can have your say poster card
, (detail) (1979), Australian Electoral Office, AIATSIS Collection
Image source: Australian Parliament House website

29 May

Second Morrison Ministry sworn in

The Governor-General swears in the Second Morrison Ministry at Government House. Ken Wyatt becomes the first Indigenous Cabinet minister and first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians. He attends the ceremony wearing a traditional cloak made from kangaroo skins, known as a buka.[80]

Ken Wyatt and Peter Cosgrove
Ken Wyatt and Peter Cosgrove
Image source: Auspic

Second Morrison Ministry
Second Morrison Ministry
Image source: Auspic

30 May

Anthony Albanese becomes ALP leader

The ALP caucus confirms Anthony Albanese (ALP, Grayndler, NSW) as the new Leader of the ALP after potential rivals for the position withdraw. Richard Marles (ALP, Corio, Vic.) is confirmed as Deputy Leader unopposed.[81]

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese
Image source: Auspic

14 June

Memorial service for Bob Hawke

A state memorial service is held at the Sydney Opera House for former Prime Minister Bob Hawke following his death on 16 May.[82]

Bob Hawke
Bob Hawke
Image source: Auspic

17 June

Indigenous tours at Parliament House

DPS begins free tours of Parliament House focused on the stories of Indigenous parliamentarians and staff, the site history of Parliament House, significant artworks by Indigenous artists and the democratic participation of Indigenous people.[83]

 

20 June

Portrait of Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove unveiled

A portrait of outgoing Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, by artist Jiawei Shen, is unveiled at Parliament House. After a distinguished military career, Sir Peter Cosgrove’s term as Governor-General began on 28 March 2014 and concluded on 1 July 2019.[84] Jiawei Shen has also painted portraits of two former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop and David Hawker, and former Prime Minister John Howard, as commissions for the Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection.[85]

Sir Peter Cosgrove and Jiawei Shen
Sir Peter Cosgrove and Jiawei Shen
Image source: Auspic via Governor-General of Australia Facebook page

25–28 June

Induction programs for new senators and members

Prior to the opening of the new Parliament, new senators and members attend orientation programs to familiarise themselves with the practices and procedures of the two chambers and the support services available from parliamentary departments.[86]

Newly elected members of the House of Representatives
Newly elected members of the House of Representatives

Image source: About the House News

26 June

Parliament House connects to the NBN

NBN Co connects Parliament House to its network via a ‘fibre-to-the-basement’ installation.[87]

 

1 July

New Governor-General sworn in

General David Hurley receives his commission as Australia’s 27th Governor-General and is sworn in by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel in a ceremony held in the Senate chamber.[88] General Hurley had previously served as Chief of the Australian Defence Force and Governor of New South Wales.

Governor-General David Hurley
Governor-General David Hurley
Image source: Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

Watch: Swearing in of the Governor-General (from 10:28:30)

1 July

New senators’ terms of service begin

In accordance with section 13 of the Constitution the terms of service of senators for the states elected on 18 May commence. The terms of senators representing the ACT and Northern Territory commenced on the day of their election.[89]

 

2 July

46th Parliament commences

The 46th Parliament commences with a welcome to country ceremony conducted by Ngunnawal elder Tina Brown. The Governor-General’s Deputy, Chief Justice Kiefel then officially opens the 46th Parliament.[90] Members and Senators take the oath or affirmation of allegiance.[91]

Tony Smith (Lib., Casey, Vic.) is elected unopposed for the third time as Speaker of the House of Representatives.[92] Previous long-serving Speakers with similar records include Sir John McLeay (Lib., Boothby, SA) who was elected four times (three unopposed), and the first Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder, who was elected unopposed three times.[93] Senator Ryan is re-elected as President of the Senate, having served in the role since 2017. The only other nomination for the presidency is Greens Senator Nick McKim (AG, Tas.).[94]

The Governor-General then delivers his opening speech outlining the Government’s agenda.[95]

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel formally opens the 46th Parliament
Chief Justice Susan Kiefel formally opens the 46th Parliament
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Welcome to country ceremony (from 9:00:00) and formal opening of the 46th Parliament in the Senate chamber (from 10:30:00)

Tony Smith is elected unopposed as Speaker for the third time
Tony Smith is elected unopposed as Speaker for the third time
Image source: About the House News

Watch: Election of the Speaker (from 11.16.45)

2 July

Composition of the 46th Parliament

At the commencement of the 46th Parliament the House of Representatives—now at 151 members—comprises 77 Coalition members, 68 Labor members, three independents and one member each representing the Greens, Centre Alliance and Katter’s Australia Party.[96] The Senate comprises 35 Coalition senators, 26 Labor senators, nine Greens senators, two Centre Alliance senators, two Pauline Hanson’s One Nation senators, one Jacqui Lambie Network senator, and one Independent.[97]

The overall proportion of women in the 46th Parliament at its commencement is 36.6 per cent, an increase of 4.6 per cent over the commencement of the previous (45th) Parliament.

The proportion of women in the Senate has increased to 48.7 per cent from 39.5 per cent at the commencement of the 45th Parliament, an increase of 9.2 per cent.

The proportion of women in the House of Representatives has increased to 30.5 per cent from 28.7 per cent at the commencement of the 45th parliament, an increase of 1.8 per cent.[98]

House of Representatives chamber
House of Representatives chamber

Senate chamber
Senate chamber

2 July

Message stick walker meets with senators and members

Alwyn Doolan, a Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka man, who had walked 8,500 km in 12 months from Cape York to Hobart and back to Canberra, is welcomed by Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and a number of other parliamentarians at Parliament House. Mr Doolan had intended to speak to the Prime Minister about reconciliation and give him several message sticks; however, this does not take place.[99]

Alwyn Doolan at Parliament House
Alwyn Doolan at Parliament House
Image source: John Janson-Moore

2 July

Press freedom inquiries established

Following the AFP’s execution of search warrants at the ABC headquarters and the home of a News Corporation journalist, the government agrees to refer to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security an inquiry into the impact on the press of powers granted to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.[100] The Senate also establishes an inquiry into press freedom and whistleblower protections on 23 July.[101]

 

3 July

Condolence motions for former Prime Minister Bob Hawke—scholarship announced

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate devote an entire sitting day to contributions on motions of condolence for former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.[102]

During his contribution, Prime Minister Morrison announces that ‘in honour of the life and service of Mr Hawke’ the Government will provide $5 million to the General Sir John Monash Foundation to create an annual scholarship known as the Bob Hawke John Monash Scholar.[103]

Bob Hawke
Bob Hawke
Image source: Auspic

3 July

Prime Minister requests advice on the compliance of two former ministers with the Statement of Ministerial Standards

Following controversy concerning the employment of former ministers Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne with Palladium and EY respectively, the Prime Minister requests the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to provide advice on their compliance with the Statement of Ministerial Standards.

The Secretary, Dr Martin Parkinson, interviews both former ministers and provides advice on 19 July that ‘On the basis of the information available at this time, I have no grounds to believe that either Mr Pyne or Ms Bishop have breached the standards.’[104]

On 22 July, the Senate refers the matter of compliance by former ministers with the Statement of Ministerial Standards, and action taken by the Prime Minister and PM&C to ensure such compliance, to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Reference Committee.[105]

 

4 July

New Clerk of the House of Representatives announced

The Speaker announces that the Deputy Clerk, Claressa Surtees, is to be appointed as the next Clerk, following the retirement of David Elder in August. Ms Surtees will be the first female Clerk of the House of Representatives and is the 16th person to be appointed to the position.[106]

Claressa Surtees
Claressa Surtees
Image source: Australian Parliament House website

4 July

Constitution alteration bill

Senators Stirling Griff (CA, SA) and Rex Patrick (CA, SA) introduce a constitution alteration bill intended to provide constitutional protection for free expression and a free press. The bill does not proceed beyond the second reading stage. In his second reading speech Senator Patrick states:

The recent Australian Federal Police raids on journalists and media organisations provide a salutary warning that freedom of the press, a pillar of our democracy, can never be taken for granted.

Australia lacks, at a national level, entrenched protections of freedom of expression.[107]

 

5 July

First bill presented to new Governor-General for assent

In accordance with established practice, the Speaker, the Attorney-General and the Clerk of the House of Representatives attend Government House to personally present to the newly-appointed Governor-General the first bill for his assent.[108] The bill is the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief so Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill.

The Speaker, Attorney-General and Clerk present the Governor-General with the first bill for his assent
The Speaker, Attorney-General and Clerk present the Governor-General with the first bill for his assent
Image source: Auspic

The Governor-General receives the first bill for his assent.
The Governor-General receives the first bill for his assent.
Image source: Auspic

22 July

Visit by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, and a number of ministers visit Parliament House. Mr Marape and Prime Minister Morrison hold the inaugural Papua New Guinea–Australia Leaders’ Dialogue.[109]

James Marape and Scott Morrison
James Marape and Scott Morrison
Image source: Parlview

22 July

Anniversary of the first moon landing

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition make statements to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 astronauts’ successful moon landing on 20 July 1969. The United States Ambassador, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., is present to hear the statements.[110]

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, 1969
Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, 1969
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

22 July

Member brings daughter into chamber

Anika Wells (ALP, Lilley, Qld) brings her young daughter into the House of Representatives chamber.[111] Both mother and daughter bow to the Speaker, as the Standing Orders require of members entering or leaving the chamber.[112] This requirement is among a number traditions intended to demonstrate respect for the office of the Speaker.[113] While the standing orders strictly limit the entry of ‘visitors’ to the chamber, an exemption exists for infants who are being cared for by a member.[114] Ms Wells delivers her first speech later in the day.[115]

 

23 July

Member addresses the House of Representatives in English, Cantonese and Mandarin during first speech

Gladys Liu (Lib., Chisholm, Vic.) delivers her first speech during the address-in-reply debate. Ms Liu briefly speaks in both Cantonese and Mandarin, stating in the latter ‘As the first Chinese-Australian woman elected to this place, I am fully aware of the historic significance and, therefore, I am determined to do my very best.’[116]

Gladys Liu
Gladys Liu
Image source: Auspic

Watch: Ms Liu’s first speech (from 16:56:50)

1 August

Inquiry into Question Time practice and procedure

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure commences an inquiry into Question Time practices and procedures. The Chair of the committee, Ross Vasta (Lib., Bonner, Qld), announces the Committee ‘will look at how question time runs and how this could be improved’ and that a public survey will be conducted later in the year.[117] The Chair and Deputy Chair of the Committee provide updates on the progress of the inquiry to the chamber on 2 December 2019.[118]

 

1 August

Senate inquiry into the administration of government programs

The Senate refers an inquiry into the delivery of government services, focusing particularly on outsourcing and the use of automated debt collection methods, to its Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee.[119]

 

1 August

Statements on retirement of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

The Speaker makes a statement on the imminent retirement of David Elder, Clerk of the House of Representatives.[120] The House then agrees to a motion, moved by the Prime Minister, recording its appreciation of Mr Elder’s ‘long and meritorious service to the Parliament’.[121] The President of the Senate also notes Mr Elder’s service.[122]

David Elder
David Elder
Image source: Auspic via House of Representatives Twitter account

1 August

75th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout

The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition speak to a motion recording the House’s remembrance of the attempted escape of 1,000 Japanese prisoners of war from the Cowra detention camp on 5 August 1944. Three Australian soldiers were killed and 234 Japanese servicemen died during the incident.[123]

Headlines reporting the Japanese prisoners of war outbreak at Cowra
Headlines reporting the Japanese prisoners of war outbreak at Cowra
Image source: Australian War Memorial

1 August

Election petitions tabled

Three petitions that had been filed in the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, are tabled in the House of Representatives. One petition claimed Josh Frydenberg failed to meet the citizenship requirements set out in section 44 of the Constitution, while the other two petitions related to purportedly misleading Liberal Party campaign signage in the electorate of Chisholm. The Federal Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, dismisses the challenge to Mr Frydenberg’s eligibility on 17 March 2020, while the petitions concerning misleading signage are dismissed on 24 December 2019.[124]

 

16 August

Mitch Fifield resigns from the Senate

Senator Mitch Fifield resigns from the Senate.[125] Senator Fifield served as a Senator for Victoria since March 2004 and as a cabinet minister from 2015 to 2019. He also held senior parliamentary party positions, such as Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Mitch Fifield
Mitch Fifield
Image source: Auspic

19 August

Prime Minister’s speech on the Public Service

The Prime Minister (who is also Minster for the Public Service) delivers a speech in the Great Hall at Parliament House to the Institute of Public Administration. The speech sets out six ‘guideposts’ intended ‘to show the way forward as I see it as Prime Minister and for my Government for the public service, for the evolution of our public service.’[126]

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
Image source: Auspic

19 August

PM&C Secretary initially declines an invitation to appear before Senate committee

The Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, declines to appear before the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee in relation to its inquiry into the compliance of former ministers Pyne and Bishop with the Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards.

Dr Parkinson states that there is ‘nothing further he can add’ in addition to his written evidence, and that ‘he does not consider it would be [a] worthwhile use of the Committee’s time for him to appear.’[127] In response, the Committee reiterates its expectation that Dr Parkinson make himself available to give evidence, which he does on 30 August.[128]

Martin Parkinson
Martin Parkinson
Image source: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet via Wikimedia Commons

21 August

Australia to deploy ADF to the Strait of Hormuz

The Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence jointly announce that Australia will contribute a frigate, a surveillance aircraft and ADF personnel to support an international maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz.[129]

HMAS Toowoomba
HMAS Toowoomba
Image Source: Sean Hobbs, Australian War Memorial

22 August

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer dies

Tim Fischer (NP, Farrer, NSW) dies aged 73. Mr Fischer was elected to the House of Representatives in 1984 and retired before the 2001 election. He served as Leader of the National Party from 1990 to 1999 and, following the election of a Coalition Government in 1996, served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade. Following his retirement from politics, Mr Fischer was appointed as Ambassador to the Holy See.[130] A state funeral for Mr Fischer is held in Albury on 29 August.[131]

Tim Fischer
Tim Fischer
Image source: Auspic

29 August

Exposure draft of Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 released

The Attorney-General, Christian Porter, releases an exposure draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, among the objects of which is to: eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of religious belief or activity; ensure equality before the law, regardless of religious belief; and ensure that people can make expressions of belief, subject to certain limits. The Attorney-General delivers a detailed speech on the design of the exposure draft at the Great Synagogue in Sydney.[132]

Christian Porter
Christian Porter
Image source: Auspic

5 September

Former ministers appear before Senate committee

Former Cabinet ministers Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne appear before the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee, which is inquiring into their compliance with the Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards in light of their post ministerial employment with private companies.[133]

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop
Image source: Auspic

Christopher Pyne
Christopher Pyne
Image source: Auspic

9 September

Senate passes National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (No. 2)

The Senate passes the National Integrity Commission Bill 2018 (No. 2), a private senator’s bill introduced by Senator Larissa Waters (AG, Qld) in late 2018.[134] It is the fifth private senators’ bill introduced by the Australian Greens to have passed the Senate.[135]

The Bill was transmitted to the House on 10 September but has not been further debated by the House.[136]

 

9 September

Condolence motions for Tim Fischer

Condolence motions are moved in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for Tim Fischer, following his death on 22 August (see entry above). The Prime Minister concludes his contribution by stating:

Tim Fischer made this country a better place. He made many of us better people. Now, may he rest in the arms of a loving God. God bless Tim Fischer.[137]

The Leader of the Opposition makes the following remarks:

With the death of Tim Fischer, Australia has lost one of our true gentlemen. We have also lost one of our greatest enthusiasts, one of our gentlest souls and one of our most doggedly persistent advocates. And we have lost one of the most distinctive figures to have ever graced the Australian political stage.[138]

Tim Fischer
Tim Fischer
Image source: Auspic

9 September

Spinifex Gum choir performs at Parliament House

The Spinifex Gum choir, based in Cairns and made up of young Indigenous women, performs in the Marble Foyer of Parliament House. The choir performs a song intended to promote a First Nations voice to parliament, a recommendation of the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart.[139]

Spinifex Gum perform in the Marble Foyer
Spinifex Gum perform in the Marble Foyer
Image source: DPS

10 September

Condolence motion for Jim Forbes

Condolence motions are moved in both the House of Representatives and the Senate following the death on 10 August 2019 of Alexander James (Jim) Forbes (Lib., Barker, SA).[140] Following military service during the Second World War, Forbes served as the member for Barker from 1956 to 1975 and held a range of ministries during the Menzies, Holt, McEwen and Gorton governments. In 1964, as Minister for the Army and Minister for the Navy, Forbes promoted within Cabinet the introduction of conscription by lottery to address personnel shortages in Australia’s defence forces.[141]

Jim Forbes
Jim Forbes
Image source: Auspic

12 September

New senator sworn in

Sarah Henderson (Lib., Vic.), previously the Member for Corangamite between 2013 and 2019, is sworn in as a Senator for Victoria.[142] Senator Henderson was chosen to fill the vacancy created by Senator Fifield’s resignation (see 16 August entry above) at a joint sitting of the houses of the Parliament of Victoria on the evening before her swearing in, 11 September.[143]

The selection of Senator Henderson to fill the casual vacancy means that the Senate has, for the first time, equal gender representation, with 38 women and 38 men.[144]

Sarah Henderson
Sarah Henderson
Image source: Auspic

12 September

Centenary of the Parliamentary Bible

100 years ago on 12 September 1919 Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson presented to the Commonwealth Parliament a Bible and lectern, intended to commemorate the conclusion of the First World War. The Bible contains a roll of the signatures of every Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate.[145]

Parliament’s Bible
Parliament’s Bible
Image source: Parliamentary Library

16 September

Prime Minister of Fiji visits Parliament House

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, visits Parliament House as part of state visit to Australia. Mr Bainimarama holds talks with Prime Minister Morrison and signs the Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership.[146]

Frank Bainimarama
Frank Bainimarama
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Ceremonial welcome for Prime Minister Bainimarama (from 9:10:30)

16 September

Media attributes February cyber attack to China

Media reports suggest the ASD concluded in March that China’s Ministry of State Security was responsible for a cyber attack on the Commonwealth Parliament and a number of political parties earlier in the year (see 8 February entry above). Neither the Prime Minister nor ASD confirm the reports.[147]

 

16 September

Birds of prey used to control ducks and magpies at Parliament House

DPS uses birds of prey, including a peregrine falcon, a barking owl and a goshawk, to limit the number of ducks and magpies around Parliament House (previously a raptor kite had been used). The intention is to reduce the need to clean the forecourt and to ensure the safety of workers and visitors in the building’s courtyards.[148] DPS subsequently reports that the birds of prey have made a noticeable difference to the number of ducks and magpies at Parliament House.[149]

A raptor kite in a courtyard at Parliament House
A raptor kite in a courtyard at Parliament House
Image source: Auspic

17 September

Choir from Vanuatu performs in the Marble Foyer

The Soul Harvest Gospel Choir from Vanuatu performs in the Marble Foyer. The choir sings in their language, Nakanamanga, as well as the Western Arrernte language, Pitjantjatjara, and English, and is touring Australia as part of celebrations for the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages.[150]

 

19 September

Indigenous sign language used in the House

While delivering a statement on National Week of Deaf People, Julie Owens (ALP, Parramatta, NSW) speaks in both Auslan and Iltyem-Iltyem, the latter being a form of sign language used by Indigenous communities in Central Australia.[151]

Julie Owens
Julie Owens
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Ms Owens statement on National Week of Deaf People (from 13:57:30)

7 October

Centenary of the death of Alfred Deakin

An exhibition marking the centenary of the death on 7 October 1919 of former Prime Minister Alfred Deakin (Prot; Lib. (Cwth), Ballaarat, Vic.) opens at Parliament House. The exhibition features a number of artefacts linked to Deakin’s life and career.[152]

The Parliamentary Library marks the occasion by releasing the first volume of Deakin’s collected letters to the London Morning Post newspaper; historian Dr David Headon also delivers a commemorative lecture at Parliament House.[153]

Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin
Image source: The Swiss Studios - National Library of Australia, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

11 October

Restrictions placed on airspace over Parliament House

After receiving an application to fly a hot-air balloon over Parliament House as part of a protest on 15 October and deeming it to be inappropriate for security reasons, the Presiding Officers ask DPS to apply to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to implement a temporary restriction on use of the airspace above Parliament House. CASA approves the application.[154]

A hot air balloon flying over Parliament House
A hot air balloon flying over Parliament House
Image source: David Burke (Orangedrummaboy), via Wikimedia Commons

16 October

Portrait of Nova Peris unveiled

A portrait of Nova Peris (ALP, NT), the first Indigenous woman to serve in the federal Parliament, is unveiled at Parliament House. The portrait depicts Ms Peris as she appeared when she gave her first speech in the Senate in 2013 and is the work of Dr Jandamarra Cadd, the first Indigenous artist to be commissioned as part of the Historic Memorials Collection.[155] The Leader of the Opposition makes a statement about the portrait in the House of Representatives later in the day.[156]

Jandamarra Cadd (b.1973) Yorta Yorta, Dja dja Warung peoples, Nova Peris OAM, 2019, Oil on canvas
Jandamarra Cadd (b.1973) Yorta Yorta, Dja dja Warung peoples, Nova Peris OAM, 2019, Oil on canvas, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.
Image source: DPS

16 October

Ministerial statement on veterans and their families

The Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester (NP, Gippsland, Vic.) delivers the third annual statement on veterans and their families, setting out measures the government has taken to support those who have served in Australia’s defence forces.[157] The shadow minister, Shayne Neumann (ALP, Blair, Qld), speaks in response.[158]

Darren Chester
Darren Chester
Image source: Auspic

22 October

Anniversary of the national apology to victims of and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse

Prime Minister Morrison moves a motion commemorating the first anniversary of the national apology to the survivors and victims of institutional child sexual abuse. Mr Morrison concludes his statement by stating:

'They are believed,' we said a year ago, 'We believe you.' We still believe you, we will forever believe you and we are sorry, as we said a year ago, and we remain sorry.[159]

The Leader of the Opposition also speaks on the motion and concludes by stating:

…to all of you who shared; to all of you who came forward; to all of you who couldn't; to all of you who suffered and suffer still; to all of you who opened our eyes, ears and hearts; to all of you who brought the light: we are with you and we thank you.[160]

Scott Morrison addresses the chamber and the victims and survivors of institutional sexual abuse in the gallery
Scott Morrison addresses the chamber and the victims and survivors of institutional sexual abuse in the gallery
Image source: Parlview

Watch: Statements by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader (from 16:17:10)

22 October

Largest e-petition tabled in the House of Representatives

Zali Steggall (Ind., Warringah, NSW) tables an e-petition in the House of Representatives calling on the House to declare a climate emergency and to introduce legislation to reduce the causes of anthropogenic climate change.[161] The petition received 404,538 signatures, making it the largest e-petition yet presented to the House.[162]

Zali Steggall
Zali Steggall
Image source: Auspic

11 November

Arthur Sinodinos resigns from the Senate

Following the announcement on 26 May (see entry above) that he would be appointed as the next Ambassador to the United States, Arthur Sinodinos resigns his position as a senator for New South Wales.[163] He had delivered a valedictory speech on 16 October 2019.[164] Senator Sinodinos had been a member of the Senate since 2011 and had held a number of ministries, including Cabinet Secretary from 2015 to 2017.

Arthur Sinodinos
Arthur Sinodinos
Image source: Auspic

12 November

The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands visits Parliament House

A delegation from the Cook Islands, led by Prime Minister Henry Puna, visits Parliament House.[165]

A delegation from the Cook Islands attends Senate question time
A delegation from the Cook Islands attends Senate question time
Image source: Parlview

25 November

New senator sworn in

Senator Jim Molan (Lib., NSW) is sworn in, filling a casual vacancy created by the resignation of Senator Sinodinos on 11 November (see entry above).[166] Senator Molan was chosen to fill the vacancy at a joint sitting of the two houses of the New South Wales Parliament on 14 November 2019.[167] Senator Molan had previously served as a senator from December 2017 until his defeat at the 2019 election.[168]

Jim Molan
Jim Molan
Image source: Auspic

25 November

Statements made on bushfires

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition make statements on indulgence in the House of Representatives on the large numbers of bushfires burning in Queensland, News South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, acknowledging the loss of four lives and the destruction of many properties.[169] The bushfire crisis continues over the summer, and by early February 2020 has resulted in the deaths of 33 people and the loss of over 3,000 homes.[170]

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
Image source: Parlview

Watch: statements on bushfires by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition (from 14:12:50)

25 November–5 December

Unusual procedural tactics employed in the House of Representatives and Federation Chamber

Over the course of the final sitting fortnight of 2019 the Opposition employs a number of unusual procedural tactics, reportedly in response to the Government’s use of closure motions to prevent debate on the conduct of the Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor (Lib., Hume, NSW).[171] For example leave is not granted to move immediately to the third reading stage on six bills or for a range of other generally non-controversial matters such as making a short statement on a delegation report, moving a motion concerning committee appointments, and making a statement after presentation of a committee report.[172]

In addition, the Opposition moves a number of unsuccessful closure motions against government members speaking during the second reading debate on six bills and also unsuccessfully attempts to adjourn debate on a bill. The use of closure motions extends into the Federation Chamber, where divisions cannot be held, leading to several suspensions, and the adjournment of that chamber on one occasion.[173] The Speaker makes a statement relating to these events on 5 December.[174]

House of Representatives chamber
House of Representatives chamber

27 November

Amendments to Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee terms of reference

The Senate agrees to amendments to the Standing Order establishing the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee. The amendments, effective from 4 December 2019, include a change of name to the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation, and other changes intended to ‘clarify the committee’s powers and functions, and address gaps in the broader framework of parliamentary scrutiny of delegated legislation.’[175]

Excluding domestic committees, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is the Senate’s oldest standing committee, having been established in 1932. Since this time the Committee has conducted technical scrutiny of legislative instruments against a number of non-partisan criteria focused on statutory requirements, the protection of individual rights and liberties, and ensuring appropriate parliamentary oversight. It refrains from commenting on government policy.[176]

 

4 December

Senator Bernardi delivers valedictory before resignation

Cory Bernardi (Ind., SA) delivers a valedictory in advance of his retirement from the Senate on 20 January 2020.[177] Senator Bernardi was chosen by the Parliament of South Australia in 2006 as a member of the Liberal Party to fill a casual vacancy and was re-elected in 2007, 2013 and 2016. In 2017 he announced his resignation from the Liberal Party in order to form the Australian Conservatives party, and from mid-2019 sat as an Independent until his resignation.[178] Andrew McLachlan (Lib., SA) replaces Senator Bernardi In February 2020.[179]

Cory Bernardi
Cory Bernardi
Image source: Auspic

4 December

‘Medevac’ provisions repealed

Provisions inserted into the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 by the Senate and agreed to in early 2019 by the House of Representatives despite Government opposition (see 12 February entry above) are repealed after the Senate narrowly agrees to the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019.[180]

 

5 December

Motion concerning CCTV and electronic access systems

Similar motions are agreed to in both the House of Representatives and the Senate concerning the use of footage from the CCTV system and data from the Electronic Pass Access System in Parliament House.[181] The motions affirm that the collection, management and dissemination of information through these systems is to be managed so as to protect parliamentary privilege, and set out procedures for ensuring this occurs.

 

13 December

Resignation of the Parliamentary Budget Officer

The Presiding Officers announce the resignation of Ms Jenny Wilkinson, Parliamentary Budget Officer since July 2017, effective 27 January 2020.[182]

Jenny Wilkinson
Jenny Wilkinson
Image source: Parliamentary Budget Office Annual Report 2018–19


Appendix 1: Notable Commonwealth Acts passed in 2019

ACT

BILLS DIGEST

PURPOSE OF ACT

Administrative Law  
Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Act 2019 O Griffiths, Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Bill 2019, Bills Digest. Amends the Royal Commission Act 1902 to, among other things, enable a RC to hold private sessions where a Regulation is made authorising it to do so; enable private sessions; and impose limits on the use and disclosure of private session information and certain information given to the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission.
Aged care    
Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Act 2019 A Grove, Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019, Bills Digest Transfers certain aged care regulatory functions and powers from the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner in relation to the approval, monitoring and enforcement of regulatory compliance of providers of aged care; and provide for the reconsideration and review of decisions in relation to the new functions of the commissioner
Corporations law    
Corporations Amendment (Strengthening Protections for Employee Entitlements) Act 2019 J Murphy, Corporations Amendment (Strengthening Protections for Employee Entitlements) Bill 2018, Bills Digest. Among other things amends the Corporations Act 2001 to strengthen enforcement and recovery options to deter and penalise company directors and other persons who engage in, or facilitate, transactions that are aimed at preventing, avoiding or significantly reducing employer liability for employee entitlements in insolvency; enable the recovery of unpaid employee entitlements of an insolvent company from certain entities in limited circumstances; and enable ASIC to disqualify company directors and other officers where they have a track record of corporate contraventions and inappropriately using the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme to pay outstanding employee entitlements.
Criminal law    
Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019   Creates new offences that will apply to providers of internet, hosting or content services who: fail to refer to police ‘abhorrent violent material that records or streams conduct that occurring’ in Australia; and do not ‘expeditiously’ take down ‘abhorrent violent material’ capable of being accessed within Australia
Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Act 2019 O Griffiths, Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, Flagpost Implements a number of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, for example, introducing an offence for possession or control of child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service (such as the internet).
Emergency
Emergency Response Fund Act 2019   H Ferguson, H Portillo-Castro and P Pyburne, Emergency Response Fund Bill 2019 [and] Emergency Response Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, Bills Digest Establishes the Emergency Response Fund (ERF) (comprising the ERF Special Account and the investments of the ERF) as a dedicated investment vehicle to provide an additional funding source for future emergency response and natural disaster recovery. Also establishes the Home Affairs ERF Special Account.
Housing    
National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Amendment Act 2019   Establishes the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to provide a limited guarantee to allow first home buyers to purchase a home with a minimum deposit of 5 per cent of the property purchase price.
National Security
Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019 C Petrie, Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018, Bills Digest Provides for the medical evacuation to Australia of asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru and PNG who require urgent medical treatment.
Social Services    
Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Work Test) Act 2019 M Klapdor, Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Work Test) Bill 2019, Bills Digest Amends the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 to: enable the paid parental leave work test period for a pregnant woman in an unsafe job to be moved from the 13-month period prior to the birth of her child to the 13-month period before she had to cease work due to the hazards connected with her employment and the subsequent risk to her pregnancy; and extend the permissible break in the paid parental leave work test to enable parents to have a gap of up to 12 weeks between two working days and still meet the work test.
Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Act 2019 D Arthur, Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management and Cashless Welfare) Bill 2019, Flagpost. Amends the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to extend the cashless debit card trial in three sites, and the income management program in Cape York, to 30 June 2020.
Superannuation    
Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019   J Ayoub, Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2018, Bills Digest. Generally to protect individuals’ retirement savings from erosion.
Taxation    
Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 MA Neilsen, Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018, Bills Digest In part: amends the Corporations Act 2001 to consolidate and broaden the existing protections and remedies for corporate and financial sector whistleblowers and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to create a whistleblower protection regime for disclosures of information by individuals regarding breaches of the tax laws or misconduct relating to an entity’s tax affairs.
Terrorism    
Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) Act 2019 C Barker, Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) Bill 2019 [and] Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, Bills Digest. Introduced with the Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, the Bill introduces a temporary exclusion orders scheme to delay Australians of counter-terrorism interest from re-entering Australia.

[1].   M Payne (Minister for Foreign Affairs), ‘Consul-General Chicago’, media release, 18 January 2019; Australia, Senate, Journals, 138, 2016–19, 12 February 2019, p. 4575.

[2].   A Remeikis, ‘Australian security services investigate attempted cyber attack on parliament’, Guardian (Australia), 8 February 2019.

[3].   S Ryan (President of the Senate), ‘Statement by the President: Parliamentary Computing Network’, Senate, Debates, 12 February 2019, pp. 4–5; T Smith (Speaker of the House of Representatives), ‘Statement by the Speaker: Parliamentary Computing Network’, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 February 2019, pp. 79–80.

[4].   S Morrison (Prime Minister), ‘Statements: National Security’, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 February 2019, p. 673.

[5].   Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Official Committee Hansard, 14 November 2019, p. 43.

[6].   M Smith, ‘Voters get Storer time in the Senate’, Advertiser, 8 February 2019, p. 13.

[7].   T Storer, ‘Murray-Darling Basin’, Senate, Debates, 14 February 2019, p. 474.

[8].   The Morrison Government lost its majority in the House of Representatives when former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull resigned in August 2018 and was replaced by the Independent Dr Kerryn Phelps.

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