Pauline Hanson’s stunt of wearing a burqa into the Senate on Thursday drew a swingeing attack from Attorney-General George Brandis, amid widespread condemnation.
But an unrepentant Hanson – who admitted her action, which she’s been considering for months, was “extreme” – told 2GB she hoped it was “creating debate”.
Brandis’ denunciation, delivered with emotion, was greeted with a standing ovation from Labor and the Greens, and more limited and hesitant clapping on his own side.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham tweeted:
Senators were shocked when Hanson – who has called for a ban on Muslim immigration – appeared in the chamber shrouded in the voluminous black garment. She removed it as she rose to ask Brandis whether he would work to ban the burqa, citing foiled and actual terrorist incidents. “There has been a large majority of Australians [who] wish to see the banning of the burqa,” she said.
“Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa,” Brandis said.
He said he was not going to pretend to ignore her stunt – and warned of the damage such behaviour could do.
“I would caution you and counsel you, senator Hanson, with respect, to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.
“We have about half-a-million Australians in this country of the Islamic faith, and the vast majority of them are law-abiding, good Australians. Senator Hanson, it is absolutely consistent being a good, law-abiding Australian and being a strict-adherent Muslim.”
He said the advice of each director-general of security and each commissioner of the Australian Federal Police with whom he had worked was “that it is vital for their intelligence and law enforcement work that they work co-operatively with the Muslim community.
“To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do, and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done.”
Hanson then asked whether the government would “ban the burqa in this house … as a security risk” and “also, the fact is the people of Australia have the right to see the face of a person that they elect to this parliament”.
Senate President Stephen Parry said this came within the purview of parliament’s presiding officers, not the attorney-general.
“The Speaker and I have made arrangements that anyone who enters these premises with their face covered by whatever means is clearly identified prior to entering the building.” He said he had ascertained when she entered who she was.
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus tweeted praise for Brandis:
Later Hanson moved a motion calling on “the government to ban full face coverings in public places on the grounds of social cohesion, the need to identify people seeking community support and for public safety”. It was defeated on the voices.
“Muslims determine the electoral outcomes in up to 15 lower house seats,” she told the Senate in her speech on the motion.
“The Muslim vote will continue to increase in importance because of the high birth rates in Australian Muslim communities. The number of Muslims in Australia doubled in the decade from 2006 to 2016 through immigration and high numbers of children born to Muslim families.
“If we do not draw a line in the sand against immigration from Islamic countries the influence of Muslims in this country will continue to grow and Australia will continue down the path of Islamisation.”
She told 2GB that just outside the Senate chamber she had passed Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson. “He actually put out his hand to shake my hand. Now I shook it. He has never done that to me as Pauline Hanson. He did it to shake hands at a person completely covered up. It was a tokenism that he was shaking the hand of Islam.”
Crossbencher Jacqui Lambie said Hanson had diminished the chamber and was dividing the nation.
Anne Aly, a member of the House of Representatives, said Hanson had made a mockery of the parliament and her behaviour needed to be called out.
Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon said her action was offensive, “demeaning to people of other faiths”.
“I wouldn’t even call this a stunt, this was just toxic,” Xenophon said.
Two green bottles and up to four blue ones. Falling from the parliamentary wall, unless the High Court saves them from the rules about MP qualifications. The six are now-resigned Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, fellow upper house members Matt Canavan (LNP) and Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), and two government members of the lower house, Barnaby Joyce and David Gillespie (both Nationals).
At least that’s the latest count, as of Monday’s referral of Joyce to the court. I hesitate to file this piece lest the number rise again today.
First, a word on process. Gillespie’s case is different from the others, in two ways. He is not a dual citizen but faces claims about his “pecuniary interest” in a shop sub-leased to Australia Post. This is the constitutional rule that knocked out Family First senator Bob Day in April.
Also, Gillespie is being sued by his former Labor Party rival, acting as a “common informer” – a fancy term for an officious bystander who sues to enforce the law.
This avenue to challenge an MP has not been used before. It’s not entirely clear the court has power to declare Gillespie “not duly elected”. (As opposed to exacting a penalty from an MP, in the princely sum of A$200, for any day they sat while under a disqualification.)
The other five – facing dual citizenship claims – are not being sued at all. Rather, parliament has referred their positions to the court. A few things flow from that, aside from the Commonwealth almost certainly having to cover their legal costs.
One is that there is no belligerent plaintiff to argue against, say, Joyce. There will just be the solicitor-general, putting legal arguments for the Commonwealth, plus lawyers for whichever of the other four MPs or their parties choose to be represented.
Yet Joyce, Canavan and Roberts share a desire to convince the High Court that they are legitimate, arguing on related grounds that it might be unfair to unseat them.
Another is that while the election is long over, the High Court says it can undo an election on a reference from parliament. This is due to a quirky, 30-year-old ruling. I say quirky because, for more than a century, there’s been an absolutely strict time limit for challenging elections.
With electoral fraud, unlawful campaigning, or electoral commission stuff-up, a court case must begin within 40 days of the election. Yet the High Court says it can undo election results, long afterwards, over qualifications issues.
We must await the arguments, but it seems that Joyce, Canavan and Roberts will argue that they either took reasonable steps to renounce (Roberts) or that it was unreasonable to expect them to have known of their dual citizenship (Joyce and Canavan). In a 1992 case, the High Court softened the law against dual citizenship to allow a defence of “reasonable steps” of renunciation.
Roberts was born in India (after partition) to a Welsh father. He took some steps – three emails in one day on the eve of nominating, apparently – to renounce his UK inheritance. Was that enough, given the UK has a set application form and fee for renunciation? Roberts, some time after the election, received notice that his UK citizenship was expunged.
Canavan, Australian-born, asserts that his mother took out Italian citizenship on his behalf, without his knowledge.
Similarly, Joyce, also Australian-born, says he was blindsided to learn he had New Zealand citizenship via his NZ-born father. They want the court to inject a subjective element – actual or constructive knowledge of dual nationality – to avoid a finding that taking no steps to renounce does not meet the idea of “reasonable steps”.
It’s possible Joyce will also argue the details of NZ law. For example, whether it automatically bestowed citizenship on him, or whether he was merely guaranteed it if he applied to activate it.
The Greens pair, by resigning, seemed to admit they were disqualified. But MPs cannot declare themselves improperly elected. Only the court can do that.
Ludlam (New Zealand) and Waters (Canada) were each born overseas, but to Australian parents. They left their birth countries at the tender ages of three years and 11 months respectively.
At least in Waters’ case, her family lore (not law) was that her nationalisation as an Australian toddler terminated any Canadian status. In some countries, you lose your birth citizenship when you take out another nationality. This was the law in Australia until recently.
The logic of the Greens’ political position is to have their two Senate seats filled ASAP. Yet, in substance, their pair are hardly more blameworthy than the other MPs, who seek to fight on. They have hemmed themselves in, however, by resigning.
If the court found their disqualifications were OK, the Greens could reappoint them or any other Greens member, under the old rule for filling a “casual vacancy”.
Finally, to legal consequences. If a senator is declared “unduly elected”, the Australian Electoral Commission conducts a recount. Invariably, the next candidate in the party’s original electoral ticket inherits the seat.
That windfall beneficiary can keep it, or the party could cajole them to resign in favour of … the unelected MP. Because all of these MPs, with sufficient paperwork and knowledge, can fix up their qualifications.
Roberts and Waters say they’ve done that. Joyce and doubtless Canavan have that in train.
In a lower house seat, however, a recount would be crazy. The seat would go to the rival major party, robbing the electorate. Instead, the court effectively triggers a byelection.
In a worst-case scenario for Joyce (or Gillespie), he would recontest that fresh election. A lot would be at stake in New England (or Port Macquarie). But it’s hard to see the electors there treating now-ex-Kiwi Joyce as a fifth columnist.
All this is a law professor’s picnic.
Section 44, as it applies to elections, detracts from, rather than adds to, democracy. Its technicalities are a thicket, catching many a candidate. It sits oddly in a Constitution that never guaranteed a right to vote, leaving that small matter to the national parliament.
It’s time for reform. We inherited the dual citizenship rule, an old rule about fealty to one Crown, from our English forebears.
The founders struck it in stone in the Constitution. Yet state parliaments are fine with dual citizens being elected. So too is New Zealand. And, funnily enough, so nowadays is the UK.
Pauline Hanson is set to move that the High Court consider the eligibility of One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts. There is a question mark over whether Roberts was a dual British citizen when he nominated for parliament.
Hanson’s announcement came after it was obvious a Greens move for a referral would be successful. This followed BuzzFeed News on Tuesday posting online Roberts’ signed application for Australian citizenship, in which he declared he was a British citizen at age 19 in 1974.
Whether Roberts was a dual national has been a long-running issue, with Roberts changing his story, from saying he was never a British citizen to most recently claiming he had renounced his British citizenship but refusing to make public the documentation. Under Section 44 of the Constitution a dual citizen is ineligible to stand for federal parliament.
Hanson and Roberts appeared at an often heated joint news conference, at which she declared he had been “eligible to stand at the time of nomination”.
In a statement, Hanson said that One Nation would be supporting Roberts “in his plan to refer himself to the High Court”. Later the statement was revised to say Hanson would move the referral.
She said it had always been Roberts’ “intention to submit his citizenship documents for public scrutiny”.
“In light of the major parties’ decision not to hold a full inquiry into the citizenships of senators, it was deemed that the High Court would provide senator Roberts the best opportunity to prove he has complied with the Australian Constitution and is lawfully elected,” she said.
“Senator Roberts has my full backing and total support from his fellow One Nation senators.”
Hanson told reporters Roberts’ case was “not straightforward” but “very complex”. “You don’t understand the full situation.”
Asked about what he had said on his application form, Roberts said: “I was a citizen of the UK and colonies … We all know that back then we were very strong members of the Commonwealth, we still are, we sang God Save The Queen until not long before then, I always thought that I was Australian, always thought I was Australian.”
The referral will have general agreement in the Senate. Earlier the government had resisted action against Roberts, with its Senate leader, George Brandis, saying on Tuesday that: “A person lodges an apparently regular nomination for an election, and they are declared to have been elected, then the onus of proof … lies on those who seek to prove that they weren’t validly elected to demonstrate that that is the case”.
The referral of Roberts is the latest in a dramatic series of events that has thrown the Senate’s membership into turmoil and given the High Court an extraordinary number of cases to deal with.
Apart from Roberts’ future, these include ruling on the filling of the places of two Greens senators, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, who resigned because they discovered they were dual nationals, and considering the eligibility of the Nationals’ Matt Canavan, whose mother signed him up as an Italian citizen.
The Senate is also awaiting the arrival of the replacement for former Western Australian Liberal senator Chris Back, who recently retired. As well, Special Minister of State Scott Ryan is on extended medical leave.
But arrangements between the parties are in place to ensure the various court cases and gaps do not affect the voting numbers.
This week’s Newspoll, conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1680, gave Labor its fifth consecutive 53-47 lead. Primary votes were 37% Labor (up 1 since last fortnight’s Newspoll), 36% Coalition (up 1), 9% Greens (down 1) and 9% One Nation (down 2). This is the Coalition’s 16th consecutive Newspoll loss with Turnbull as PM.
34% were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance (up 2) and 54% were dissatisfied (down 2), for a net approval of -20, up four points. Shorten’s net approval was unchanged at -20.
The biggest political news last week was Peter Dutton’s appointment to head the new home affairs “super ministry”. Turnbull’s ratings and the Coalition’s primary vote may have improved as a result of the hard right’s approval of Dutton. Progressives detest Dutton, but people who do not follow politics are unlikely to have formed an opinion of Dutton yet. Turnbull has already lost politically engaged progressives.
Essential this week found strong approval of the new super ministry, but concern that Dutton was responsible for the various security services.
The Greens have lost one point, but can consider themselves fortunate not to have lost more after a shocking five days in which Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned from the Senate after finding they had unwittingly violated Section 44 of the Constitution.
Resources minister Matt Canavan today became the latest victim of the dual citizenship fiasco. He has resigned from Cabinet, but not yet from the Senate, after finding he has Italian citizenship. If the courts rule him out, Canavan will be replaced by Joanna Lindgren, the No. 6 on the Queensland LNP ticket.
While Labor has comfortably led in all Newspolls since the beginning of the year, Newspoll uses the previous election method to distribute preferences. Respondent allocated polling from ReachTEL shows a reduction in Labor’s lead. It is likely that most hard right voters who have deserted the Coalition will return after preferences.
At the 2016 election, One Nation preferences split nearly 50-50 between the major parties. As some of the hard right has defected to One Nation, its preferences will probably be more favourable to the Coalition at the next election, provided that Turnbull is still PM.
This week’s additional Newspoll questions concerned Tony Abbott. By 58-23, voters thought Turnbull had the best leadership credentials compared with Abbott. Coalition voters backed Turnbull by 69-23, with Abbott ahead 44-34 only with One Nation voters.
48% thought Abbott should remain a backbencher and shut up, 23% thought he should be given a senior Cabinet position, and 17% thought Abbott should remain a backbencher but not shut up.
A Sky News ReachTEL poll, conducted 19 July from a sample presumably about 2300, gave Labor a narrow 51-49 lead, a one point gain for the Coalition since the previous Sky News ReachTEL, in late June.
The primary vote figures included 9% “undecided”, but ReachTEL asks these people which way they are leaning. However, the preferences of these leaners were not included. If these 9% undecided are excluded, primary votes are 37% Labor, 36% Coalition, 12% One Nation and 9% Greens. Applying 2016 preference flows would give a 53-47 Labor lead. The Coalition is benefiting from respondent allocated preferences, hence the narrower headline Labor lead.
Turnbull led Shorten by 54.5-45.5 as preferred PM, up from 54-46. Better PM polling without a forced choice favours incumbents, and a forced choice usually gives opposition leaders a better result.
In other findings, 75% favoured renewable energy over coal. 56% nominated power and gas prices as the biggest cost of living expenses, with other expenses at 16% or below. 47% supported a Constitutional change to create an indigenous advisory body, with 29% opposed.
This week’s Essential had the Coalition regaining the point they lost a fortnight ago, for a 53-47 Labor lead. Primary votes were 38% Coalition, 37% Labor, 10% Greens, 7% One Nation and 4% Nick Xenophon Team; the Coalition has gained two points since last fortnight. Essential used a two-week sample of 1800; additional questions are based on one week’s sample.
56% approved of the new national security ministry, and just 18% disapproved. 45% thought it would strengthen Australia’s national security, 28% thought it would make little difference and just 8% thought our national security would be weakened. 45% were concerned that Dutton would have responsibility for the various security services, and 35% were not concerned.
By 64-10, voters supported a clean energy target, requiring a set percentage of energy to be generated from clean sources. By 54-15, voters supported an emissions intensity scheme, where pollution over a certain level is taxed.
40% said they were connected to the National Broadband Network either at home or work. Of those who had an NBN connection, 48% thought it was better than their previous Internet service, and 22% thought it was worse.
A Taxmanian ReachTEL poll, conducted 21 July from a sample of 2820, gave the Liberals 43.0% (down 8.2 points since the 2014 election), Labor 32.9% (up 5.6) and the Greens 13.4% (down 0.4). The next Tasmanian election is likely to be held in March 2018.
Tasmania uses the Hare Clark system with five 5-member electorates. In 2014 the Liberals won 15 of the 25 seats, to 7 for Labor and 3 for the Greens. The Liberals won 4 seats in Braddon, 2 in Denison and 3 in Bass, Franklin and Lyons. On current polling, the Liberals are likely to lose a seat in both Braddon and Franklin, and the final seat in Lyons will decide whether the Liberals cling to a majority.
After adjustment for bias towards the Greens and against Labor, Kevin Bonham interprets this poll as 43.0% Liberal, 36.7% Labor and 10.7% Greens. If the adjusted figures are replicated in Lyons, there would be a three-way race between the Liberals, Greens and Labor for the final seat.
Overall, Bonham thinks the most likely outcome using this poll is 12 Liberals, 10 Labor, 3 Greens, but his Tasmanian poll aggregate has the Liberals ahead in Lyons, and thus more likely to win a majority.
Now that the Liberals and commentators have overdosed on a debate about where the party’s founder stood on the centre-right spectrum, could someone go to a shopping centre and ask a dozen people under 40 who Robert Menzies was?
How many would know? And if the mall happened to be in multicultural western Sydney, what chance “Ming” would have any recognition?
This week’s argument may have meaning for the Liberal tribe, and in the context of Malcolm Turnbull’s fightback against the conservatives who are making his life hell. But to many families in the suburbs and the regions, it would likely come across as just irrelevant “insider” stuff.
While a lot of people just shrug impatiently at insider politics, a substantial number have turned to “outsider” players. The challenge to the Coalition vote from the confronting “outsider” Pauline Hanson brand was clear in polls out this week.
Newspoll had Pauline Hanson’s One Nation on 11% for the second poll running. This was ahead of the Greens, who were at 10% in the latest poll, and 9% in the previous one.
ReachTEL polling commissioned by The Australia Institute, a progressive think-tank, and done on June 8 in the seats of six ministers and the prime minister, shows very diverse but some substantial results for One Nation. The figures are: Cook (Scott Morrison) 16.7%; Curtin (Julie Bishop) 4.3%; Dickson (Peter Dutton) 14.1%; Flinders (Greg Hunt) 8.9%; Kooyong (Josh Frydenberg) 3.6%; Sturt (Christopher Pyne) 3.8%; and Wentworth (Turnbull) 8.1%. If the “undecideds” were distributed, the figures would be higher.
According to polling analyst John Stirton: “In 27 separate polls this year (from Newspoll, ReachTEL, Essential and YouGov 50 Acres) One Nation has averaged 9% of the primary vote, although there is some polarisation with Newspoll and ReachTEL tending to be above average (10-11%) while Essential and YouGov have been below average (7-8%).”
Although it’s unclear how much of the One Nation vote would hold at an election, the Newspoll level should be of concern to the Coalition, especially as the minor party has had a lot of bad publicity recently from internal scandals.
It’s a national figure for a party whose support is lumpy. We know it is particularly strong in regional Queensland. How strong will be tested in the coming state election, when the Liberal National Party (LNP) will be looking to harvest One Nation preferences, formally or informally.
Unlike the situation with the Greens and Labor, where the ALP can rely on receiving the overwhelming bulk of Green preferences, the One Nation flow on to the LNP will be less disciplined. Some One Nation voters would be former Labor supporters.
The test major parties face from “outsider” players is explored in a new book by respected British political commentator Steve Richards, The Rise of the Outsiders: How Mainstream Politics Lost its Way. He looks at the phenomenon across national boundaries, including a modest reference to Hanson and the Australian experience.
In an era of globalisation and rapid change, the answer to the question “who rules?” can be unclear. Richards notes that insiders’ power is less than it looks. “Elections, opinion polls, the media, constitutional checks and balances and the near-impossibility of managing a party’s internal tensions mean that elected power is fragile and often fleeting,” he writes.
“Most leaders or governments in democracies rule precariously, partly because they pay so much attention to the voters.
“Yet voters regard the democratically elected as out of touch, part of a lofty, arrogant elite. The opposite is closer to the truth.
”… Elected leaders rule in an era of extreme mistrust. If they do not do x, y or z, the instinct of some voters is to assume that those they elected are liars … At the very least some voters feel ignored and overlooked … The instinct to mistrust elected leaders is fuelled by some media outlets …”
The outsiders offer simplicity and clarity, albeit their messages are simplistic. They are fancy-free and so can be self-contradictory in the positions they take – although things become more complicated if, as with Donald Trump, they win power and become the new insiders. (Hanson has a lot of Senate power, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the view of her as an outsider.)
Richards argues that one inadvertently positive contribution the outsiders have made “is to trigger constructive questions from mainstream parties about what form the centre ground takes, and tentative questions about the role of government in a globalised economy”.
In the Australian context, this week Turnbull has reasserted that the Liberal Party needs to be in the “sensible centre”. We have recently also had the Coalition embrace a more active role for government than the Liberals would have advocated three or four years ago – such as a stated willingness to invest in a coal-fired power station, and the use of export controls to ensure a bigger supply of gas for the local market.
It seems obvious that the best place for the Coalition to pitch its tent is the “sensible centre”. That, we know – or believe – is where elections are decided. Turnbull is competing for swinging votes that could go to either him or Bill Shorten.
Many of these voters are pragmatic, uninterested in ideological wars, or in what Menzies might say if he were alive now. They just want things done – about power prices, health, education, whatever.
But that 11% is a different kettle of fish, or maybe it contains several kettles. They are deeply cynical about today’s political process and major parties; the siren call of Hanson, and some in the media, picks up on that.
These people, like some in the Liberal base – and they are overlapping cohorts – will be more drawn to Tony Abbott’s manifesto than Turnbull’s sensible centre.
The Turnbull government has genuflected to them by playing gesture politics in immigration, revamping foreign worker arrangements, and proposing the English test for potential citizens be ridiculously tough. It will have a careful eye to the demands of the coal lobby as it tries to land its clean energy target.
But those attracted to “outsider” politics would prefer the Abbott-style bald negativity toward immigrants and renewables.
The Liberals enjoy pointing to the two core constituencies Labor has to juggle – lower- and middle-income workers, and affluent inner-city progressives. But the Coalition has its own dual constituencies – the mainstreamers, and the punishers on the right whose power is a protest vote.
A ReachTEL poll for Sky News, conducted Thursday from a sample of 2390, has Labor leading by 52-48, a one point gain for the Coalition since the previous Sky News ReachTEL, just after the May budget. Assuming the 7.1% undecided are excluded, primary votes are 36.5% Coalition (down 1.3), 35.6% Labor (up 1.4), 10.3% Greens (steady) and 9.8% One Nation (down 0.4).
The primary vote changes suggest Labor should have gained after preferences, but ReachTEL is using respondent allocated preferences. According to Kevin Bonham, using previous election preferences, Labor leads by 52.8-47.2, a 1.3 point gain for Labor since the previous ReachTEL.
At the 2016 election, One Nation preferences split almost 50-50 between the two major parties. However, this poll has evidence that One Nation is now attracting the hard right of the Coalition, and thus that their preferences will be more Coalition-friendly at the next election.
Turnbull is preferred as Liberal leader to Tony Abbott by 68-32, with Coalition voters favouring Turnbull 73-27. However, One Nation voters prefer Abbott by a massive 77-23. It appears that as Turnbull has become more centrist over the last two months, the hard right has moved towards One Nation.
In ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM question, Turnbull leads by 54-46, a two point gain for Turnbull since the May Channel 7 ReachTEL. Same sex marriage is supported by 62-26, with 59% in favour of a plebiscite to decide the issue, while 41% prefer a parliamentary vote. 64% thought penalty rates should be higher on Sunday than Saturday.
In this week’s Essential, primary votes were 39% Coalition, 36% Labor, 10% Greens, 7% One Nation and 3% Nick Xenophon Team. After surging to 9% last week, One Nation’s vote has fallen back. This poll was conducted over the last two weeks from a sample of 1790. Additional questions are based on one week’s sample.
Turnbull’s attributes were relatively unchanged since February, while Shorten’s were a little worse. Turnbull had double digit leads over Shorten on “intelligent”, “capable leader” and “good in a crisis”, but also on “out of touch” and “arrogant”.
By 79-6, voters supported the proposition that politicians should publicly disclose meetings with lobbyists, and by 78-5 they supported continuous reporting of political donations. Over 60% were in favour of bans on foreign donations, donations of over $5,000 and company and union donations. However by 46-30, voters opposed a complete ban on donations, with all political campaigning taxpayer-funded.
UK pollster YouGov has entered the Australian market. Polling will be conducted every fortnight from Thursday to Tuesday by online methods with a sample over 1000. The first YouGov poll, conducted from 22 to 27 June from a sample of 1125, has Labor leading by 51-49. Primary votes are 34% Labor, 33% Coalition, 12% Greens, 7% One Nation, 4% Christian parties and 3% NIck Xenophon Team.
Labor’s narrow two party lead was obtained using respondent-allocated preferences. Using the previous election method, Labor would lead 54-46. Christian parties are not included in the readout in any other poll, and it is likely that most of them are Liberals.
On 31 August, the Electoral Commission will determine the number of House seats each state and territory is entitled to, based on the latest population figures.
The 2016 Census was released on 27 June. As a result, according to the parliamentary library, SA’s seats will be reduced by one to 10, while Victoria and the ACT will both gain one seat, to 38 and 3 seats respectively. Other states are unchanged, with NSW entitled to 47 seats, Queensland 30, WA 16, Tasmania 5 and the NT 2. Overall, the House will have 151 members after the next Federal election, up from the current 150.
Labor easily won both ACT seats at the 2016 election, so the creation of a third seat is good news for them. The political effect of redistributions in Victoria and SA will not be known until draft boundaries are released.
If an election is called before the redistributions are finalised, special arrangements are used to create or merge seats. These arrangements have never been used.
Tasmania should have only three House seats, but is entitled to five as this is the minimum entitlement for any of the six original states. As Tasmania has tended to give better results for Labor than the mainland, this malapportionment favours Labor.
The Guardian has analysis of a post-election study from pollster Ipsos Mori. In terms of swing from the 2015 election, the Conservatives performed best among demographics where the UK Independence Party (UKIP) had its highest vote shares in 2015: these demographics included those aged over 65 and lower social classes.
The Conservatives have adopted UKIP’s populist agenda regarding Brexit, and right-wing populism explains some of the swing to the Conservatives among demographics that were most likely to vote for UKIP and Leave at the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Labour performed best in swing terms among voters aged 18-44 and higher social classes. UKIP had low 2015 vote shares among these demographics. Although Jeremy Corbyn’s radical left-wing policies were also important in winning over young people, Labour’s unexpectedly strong performance can be seen as a rejection of right-wing populism among demographics that voted Remain at the Brexit referendum.
The swing to Labour in higher social classes, and the swing to the Conservatives in lower classes, has meant that the Conservatives narrowly won the top three classes, and Labour narrowly won the fourth class. At previous elections, there has been a far greater difference in party support by class.
On 26 June, the Conservatives committed to spend an additional £1 billion (about $AU 1.7 billion) on Northern Ireland (NI) in return for support on important Commons votes from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
During the election campaign, PM Theresa May told a nurse who had had no wage increases for eight years, “There isn’t a magic money tree we can shake”. Every time the Conservatives now say there is no money for schools, hospitals, public sector wage increases, etc, people will remember the £1 billion “magic money tree” for NI.
Yesterday, One Nation leader and senator Pauline Hanson suggested it would be better for teachers if students with autism and disability were put in special classrooms.
Hanson used children with autism as an example. She argued that their inclusion in regular classrooms was detrimental to non-disabled students, because “it is taking up the teacher’s time”.
She suggested moving students with disability “into a special class [to be] looked after and given that special attention … to give them those opportunities”.
Hanson claimed that students with disability have a negative impact on their peers. Yet international research shows otherwise. Some research suggests students with disability have no impact on the learning of other students – whether they are present or not.
Other research shows that students appear to benefit from having disabled peers. They develop greater appreciation for human diversity and capacity for positive relationships.
Hanson also claimed that students with disabilities were better served in separate classrooms or schools. Evidence shows the converse is true. Decades of research has concluded that students with disabilities who learn in inclusive classrooms make far greater progress.
For example, students with disabilities in mainstream schools achieve higher grades than their counterparts in segregated schools and classes. They also develop more proficiency in language and mathematics and perform better on standardised tests.
Hanson claimed that students with disabilities take a disproportionate amount of teachers’ time, at the expense of non-disabled students. Yet studies exploring the views of teachers strongly indicate that they perceive inclusion as beneficial and valuable.
Teachers are more likely to feel anxious about their ability to meet their students’ needs and overwhelmingly express a desire for more information and training in order to become better teachers for all their students.
Interestingly, teachers often cite students with autism as a major group with whom they want to improve their skills. Our research shows there are many highly effective strategies that can be used in regular classrooms to achieve this.
In addition, teachers who receive appropriate professional learning about disability and inclusion report feeling more knowledgeable and less stressed.
This points to the importance of providing high-quality education and training for teachers. It also suggests the need for ongoing professional development in the teaching workforce.
Students with disability are not always well supported in Australian schools, but this does not mean that they are better off in special classes or that “special attention” will lead to opportunity.
In fact, too much individualised support and attention can increase disablement by fostering dependence, reducing the range of learning opportunities, and hampering achievement.
For this reason, it is critical that students with disability are included in the “real world” of school. This is important for them to become socially competent, independent and financially secure adults.
Having desegregated classrooms is also an important step in paving a positive future after school. Inclusive education makes a powerful contribution to creating a more equitable and productive society. This prepares adults with disability for life after school and connects them in the wider community.
Students with disabilities who are educated in inclusive classrooms are far more likely to complete post-secondary education, making them much more capable of engaging in the workforce and obtaining meaningful employment.
Additionally, students with disabilities who attend their local schools are also more socially connected and engaged in their community as adults.
Hanson’s comments were based on anecdotes from conversations with a limited number of teachers. However, there is both established and new evidence that clearly indicates Hanson’s claims are unsubstantiated.
Most importantly, when considering the placement of children with disability in the schooling debate, we should focus on both promoting quality education for all kids (regardless of their backgrounds), and providing the tools for a society in which all adults can work, study and interact socially.
In 2015 journalist Margo Kingston asked Pauline Hanson why she had James Ashby – someone with a chequered political history – working for her.
Kingston was the author of a 1999 book about Hanson and had also closely followed the story of Ashby, a key player in the sordid political downfall of Peter Slipper, the Liberal defector who became Julia Gillard’s Speaker.
“I don’t want to hear anything against him,” Hanson said very defensively of the man who has now become her trusted confidant in a close and powerful partnership.
But this week things turned sour for Ashby – and thus for Hanson – when he was caught, via a leaked recording, suggesting a scam on taxpayers. He proposed One Nation make money out of the Queensland election by presenting inflated receipts to the authorities. The idea wasn’t taken up, but this was a serious “please explain” moment for Ashby and his leader.
In a double blow to the party a staffer of Malcolm Roberts, its second Queensland senator, on Wednesday was arrested on multiple assault charges going back years. But it’s the Ashby affair – now being considered by the Australian Federal Police after a referral by Labor – that has the big potential implications.
Mostly, political staffers are known only to those within the beltway. Occasionally, however, they become public figures in their own right, because of their influence with their boss – Peta Credlin’s role with Tony Abbott obviously springs to mind.
In her first political iteration, Hanson’s right-hand man David Oldfield was mired in controversy. This time it’s Ashby. He calls a lot of the shots in the party, and has generated resentment at the grassroots level. He is the gatekeeper to her office. One observer of the party’s Senate operation says: “Pauline is the boss, but James keeps things moving on.”
In the current Senate, two parties based on high-profile “names” – Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) – are in pivotal positions on legislation when it is opposed by Labor and the Greens. Both parties are populist, though the NXT is centrist while One Nation is on the right, and promotes anti-Muslim sentiment.
So far they have operated very differently. Xenophon is the ultimate horse-trader, exacting concessions of all sorts in return for support. The government often finds itself with little choice but to say yes to demands that in other circumstances it would not countenance.
One Nation for the most part doesn’t have a “trading” approach and frequently tells the government early on its attitude to a particular piece of legislation. Fortunately for the Coalition it is more often than not one of support. It’s not surprising the government prefers dealing with One Nation than the NXT.
But it’s another matter out in the electorate, where One Nation presents a threat when voters are looking for opportunities to kick the major parties. With the Queensland election approaching, what’s happening to the One Nation vote is being keenly watched by Liberals and Nationals, and Labor too.
The Western Australian election was a setback for One Nation. It won three seats in the state’s upper house and its vote, looked at in the context of seats contested, was reasonable. But expectations had been raised too high, Hanson made gaffes, the campaign was shambolic, and she mismanaged her post-election narrative.
Given that Hanson’s base is Queensland, where populism is very strong in the regions, the state poll is regarded as a seminal test. It’s due early next year but is likely to be held before that. Depending to whom one speaks, that election could see the return of the Labor government or a change, with the One Nation winning no seats or several. At present One Nation has one seat, held by a defector from the Liberal National Party.
There is general agreement that One Nation won’t get a swag of seats, as happened in the 1998 Queensland election when it won 11, with nearly 23% of the vote.
A Galaxy Queensland poll in April had One Nation on 17%, down from 23% three months before. Other political players believe One Nation has come off the boil, but how it will trend from here remains to be seen. Nationally, it is on 9% in Newspoll.
Paul Williams, senior lecturer in politics at Griffith University, says there is no doubt One Nation’s support is dwindling but he still expects it will poll in double digits in the state election and predicts it will get two or three state seats, although it could be as few as one.
There could be another hung parliament, Williams says, and One Nation could share the balance of power. As Queensland’s is a unicameral parliament, there is no upper house for One Nation to have a shot at.
A significant difference between this Queensland election and 1998 is that there will be compulsory preferential voting, rather than optional preferential, which will make it harder for One Nation.
Federal Labor is pushing hard on Ashby. A prime motive is embarrassing the Coalition over preferences, ahead of the Queensland election, and the later federal one. The question of preferencing One Nation is always a delicate one for the conservatives. A preference deal with One Nation caused the WA Liberals more grief than gain.
The Queensland LNP has said it will decide its position on preferences closer to the election; it will take a pragmatic, seat-by-seat approach.
The horror stories related by disgruntled former One Nation members, including about candidates being bullied and forced to buy expensive campaign material, and the issues about Ashby’s behaviour are damaging for Hanson and her party. The depth of the Ashby problem will depend on what the AFP says.
The extent to which supporters will be alienated by the divisions and the talk of rorting is hard to judge.
On the one hand, they may be repelled by the revelations.
On the other hand, voters attracted to One Nation are often people simply wanting to hit out at the major parties, and so may take little notice of the scandals. They might just be listening to the woman who articulates their anger and grievances.
But if things go badly, Hanson could find herself asking the question that Kingston put to her.
Malcolm Turnbull has asked the Australian Federal Police commissioner, the attorney-general and the justice minister for advice about the revelation that Pauline Hanson’s key adviser, James Ashby, floated the idea of One Nation scamming public funds.
Ashby suggested at a meeting last year that a way One Nation could make money at taxpayer expense in the coming Queensland election was to inflate receipts presented to electoral authorities.
The party did not pursue the idea, but its surfacing – via a recording of the meeting – is causing serious fallout for Ashby and for Hanson, who was present at the meeting.
Labor has written to the Queensland electoral commissioner and the Queensland police commissioner asking them to investigate.
In the recording, Ashby said: “There is an opportunity for us to make some money out of this, if we play it smart. Now I know they say you can’t make money out of state elections, but you can.”
Outlining the idea at the meeting, Ashby said: “I’ll deny I ever said this but what stops us from getting a middle man or gracing – I’m happy to grace in cash and double the price of whatever it is.”
The party would say to candidates that it would fund 50% of a package, he said. The package might be A$5,000, with the candidate told they were going to pay $2,500 and party would pay the other $2,500.
“The other $2,500 is profit. It’s the fat,” Ashby told the meeting. “When you lodge the receipt at the full price with the Electoral Commission of Queensland you get back the full amount that’s been issued to you as an invoice.”
At an extraordinary joint news conference with Hanson on Monday, Ashby said the revelation was “embarrassing”, adding that it was a “poor choice of words on my behalf”.
He complained that “these were secretly recorded conversations in what we thought was an environment where we could safely put any idea on the table and it wouldn’t go any further”.
“We’ve never implemented this idea that was put forward and it’s regretful that obviously a poor choice of words on my behalf had to be aired in such a public manner,” he said.
Hanson told the news conference: “Don’t forget I was at the meeting as well. You do not have the full recording of that meeting, so you have no idea what was said at the rest of the meeting. We knocked it on the head at the meeting. It didn’t go ahead – that’s why. It was an issue that was raised and it was knocked on the head there and then.”
In comments later, Ashby said he had felt it necessary to come forward to deal with the story – he cast Hanson as being at the news conference to support him. “At times I’m going to have to come forward and defend myself”, he said.
He said political parties were run like businesses, but formerly One Nation had been run in a dismal fashion.
His proposal had been a silly idea, he said. Amid suggestions there was more of the tape to come out, he said could not remember what else he had said at the meeting.
Crossbench senator Derryn Hinch said Ashby had committed a sackable offence but Hanson “won’t sack him”.
In parliament, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus quizzed Turnbull about the allegations One Nation had conspired to defraud Queensland electoral authorities.
Dreyfus asked whether Turnbull had referred this and previous allegations about One Nation to the Australian Federal Police to investigate whether any Commonwealth laws had been broken, including whether any similar fraud had been perpetrated against the Commonwealth.
He also asked whether the government would be reviewing payments made to Coastal Signs and Printing – Ashby’s Sunshine Coast-based business – to make sure there hadn’t been inflated receipts.
Turnbull said the question raised “some serious matters” and he would be getting advice.
The government is somewhat conflicted over Ashby. It needs One Nation’s Senate votes for legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens – Ashby is Hanson’s right-hand man and arguably the party would be less stable without him. But anything that discredits Ashby and One Nation is useful ahead of the Queensland election.
Ashby is a divisive figure within One Nation, and bitterly attacked by some ex-members.
He has been the centre of controversy over the contested funding for a plane used to ferry Hanson around. He says he purchased the aircraft and it was owned by his business.
A former Queensland One Nation candidate, Diane Happ, who had a row with the party over the cost of campaign material, told the ABC on Monday that Ashby was “a viper, he’s a snake, he’s nasty stuff”.