Dutton camp presses for quick second leadership ballot

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Dutton forces mounted a push on Wednesday night to get a quick second vote on the leadership, seeking names to petition Malcolm Turnbull to call a meeting.

Peter Dutton and his supporters do not want Liberal MPs to disperse late Thursday without a vote, fearing a loss of momentum for his campaign.

Having to wait until after a fortnight’s break for the next pariliamentary sitting could put Dutton under much more scrutiny over policy, and risk negative feedback when MPs return to their electorates.

Delay could also possibly see the emergence of other contenders, such as Treasurer Scott Morrison.

But on Wednesday night the government whip’s office said there was no special meeting planned and “there never has been any special meeting”.

Rumours circulated during the evening about the number of names that had been gathered for the petition for the meeting, which requires 43 signatures.

Turnbull supporters accused the Dutton camp of generating “fake news”.

As the Dutton forces ramped up the pressure, frontbencher James McGrath, assistant minister to the Prime Minister, announced he had met Turnbull to “insist” he accept the resignation offered by McGrath on Tuesday.

McGrath was one of multiple frontbenchers who offered their resignations after voting for Dutton on Tuesday.

McGrath said his resignation had now been accepted. “Like Peter Dutton has said, we must do everything in our power to stop Bill Shorten ever becoming Prime Minister,” he said.

His Tuesday letter said: “The people who have for all their lives counted on us to look after them and their families are now questioning our commitment to them. Our people feel forgotten, ignored and spoken down to. As a Liberal National Party senator for Queensland, this is an intolerable situation.”

This takes the actual frontbench resignations to three – the others being Dutton and a junior minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Turnbull on Wednesday told a news conference that a number of frontbenchers had offered to resign and “I’ve had discussions with all of them.

“Look, what I’m endeavouring to do is to obviously ensure that the party is stable, to maintain the stability of the government of Australia. That’s critically important,” he said.

“And so, the cabinet ministers, apart from Peter Dutton of course, who came to me and told me that they had voted for Mr Dutton in the leadership ballot, have given me unequivocal assurances of continuing loyalty and support.”

In parliament a number of ministers who voted for Dutton on Tuesday – Greg Hunt, Michael Keenan, Angus Taylor, Alan Tudge and Steve Ciobo – were asked whether they retained enough confidence in the prime minister, the government and its policies, to remain a minister.

All eyes have been on Senate leader Mathias Cormann, who had not been in the Dutton camp. A switch by Cormann would be fatal for Turnbull. Sources believed he was concerned about the impact a switch would have on business confidence.

Another complication for Dutton is the attention that has come on questions around his eligibility to sit in parliament.

Labor in the House of Representatives pursued the suggestion that he could be ineligible under the constitution’s section 44 on pecuniary interests. This says a person is incapable of sitting if they have “any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth”.

Dutton through a family trust has an interest in child care centres that receive Commonwealth funding. The key question is whether it involves an agreement with the public service.

Dutton maintains his legal advice is that he has no constitutional problem. Turnbull told parliament he had not seen the advice and the Solicitor-General had not been asked for an opinion.

Subsequently Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement that given the matter had been raised in question time and in the media “I determined to seek advice from the Solicitor-General on the issues raised.”

Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff said this week: “it’s well known about his interests in childcare centres … he recused himself from any conversations we ever had in policy terms.”

Craig Laundy, a junior minister and a Turnbull supporter, said Dutton should release the advice “just to allay any concerns”.

Labor released advice from Bret Walker SC and James Mack that argued Dutton was incapable of being chosen for the parliament and therefore not entitled to continue to sit. They said if the issue were referred to the High Court there was a “reasonable prospect” he would be disqualified.

Dutton on Wednesday started to be tested on policy, after he proposed the GST should be taken off electricity bills.

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Morrison said this would cost some $7.5 billion over four years. “That would be a budget blower, an absolute budget blower”, Morrison said. Dutton also favoured a royal commission into power companies.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


The executive board of the California Southern Baptist Convention unanimously endorsed the state’s proposed constitutional marriage amendment during its meeting Sept. 11-12 and encouraged Southern Baptists in the state to do the same, reports Baptist Press.

The amendment, known as Proposition 8, will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot and would define marriage as between one man and one woman, thus overturning a May decision by the California Supreme Court legalizing “gay marriage.” The board passed a resolution acknowledging the Bible as the “Word of God” and the “standard by which all human conduct and religious opinion should be measured.” (See the full text of the resolution at the bottom of this story).

The resolution acknowledges: “The Bible also teaches that marriage was the first institution ordained by God at the beginning of creation when it was established between Adam, a male, and Eve, a female, as the pattern for all time.”

The resolution calls on California Southern Baptists to pray about the issue and conduct voter registration drives through Oct. 20, the cutoff date for voter registration. The resolution urges pastors to inform their congregations of issues related to the ballot measure and encourages them to participate in the grassroots effort.

Additionally, the resolution encourages California Southern Baptists to financially support Proposition 8. The resolution points to Internet resources such as those at www.csbc.com/protectmarriage, www.ProtectMarriage.com and www.protectmarriageca.com .

In presenting the recommendation to the executive board, Don Fugate, communications committee chairman and pastor of Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, said the resolution is something all California Southern Baptists should support, and that he believes it is at the core of what Baptists believe about the family.

Following is the complete text of the resolution supporting Proposition 8:

“WHEREAS, The Bible is the Word of God, written by men, but divinely inspired, the Bible also is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is God-breathed and inerrant, and all Scripture is true and trustworthy. It is the standard by which all human conduct and religious opinion should be measured; and

“WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that God loves all people and commands us to do likewise; the Bible also teaches that marriage was the first institution ordained by God at the beginning of creation when it was established between Adam, a male, and Eve, a female, as the pattern for all time. Since the beginning of time societies, cultures and religions have endorsed marriage as the union between one man and one woman for a lifetime. Marriage provides the framework for intimate companionship, the avenue of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation. It also is God’s unique gift to demonstrate the relationship between Christ and His church; and

“WHEREAS, The family unit that God intended — a father, a mother and children — has fallen into disarray while the divorce rate in our state and nation is at an all-time high, and the percentage rate of divorce in the general population is reflected in the church; and

“WHEREAS, California voters in 2000, by more than 61 percent of the vote, approved Proposition 22 which reads, ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California;’ and

“WHEREAS, The California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, disregarded the will of the people on May 15, 2008 by striking down Proposition 22, thereby granting marriage privileges to ‘same-sex’ couples; and

“WHEREAS, Same-sex marriage is legally unnecessary since homosexual couples in California already are entitled to all the legal rights and privileges of marriage, short of the name; now, therefore be it

“RESOLVED That the California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board, meeting September 12, 2008, endorse Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment that states, ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California;’ and be it further

“RESOLVED That California Southern Baptist Convention churches and members are urged to pray about this important issue, and that at least 7 million Californians will vote for traditional, biblical marriage; and be it further

“RESOLVED That churches are encouraged to conduct voter registration drives between now and October 20 since as many as 50 percent of Christian eligible voters are not registered to carry out this civic privilege; and be it further

“RESOLVED That California Southern Baptist Convention pastors are urged to inform their congregations of the issues and encourage them to participate in the grassroots effort; and be it further

“RESOLVED That California Southern Baptists be encouraged to financially support Proposition 8 by making donations to ProtectMarriage.com by Oct. 10; and be it finally

“RESOLVED That California Southern Baptist Convention church leaders are urged to avail themselves of resources provided on the World Wide Web at www.csbc.com/protectmarriage , www.protectmarriage.com , and www.protectmarriageca.com .”

Report from the Christian Telegraph