Labor’s member for the NSW marginal seat of Lindsay, Emma Husar, has announced she is taking personal leave, after a long-running party investigation into allegations she misused and bullied staff members became public.
Husar said in a statement that she had received threats of violence.
The NSW Labor party probe, led by barrister John Whelan, into the claims against Husar, who is in her first term, has been going on for some time but the story only broke publicly with a BuzzFeed report last week.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has said he first heard of the allegations last week.
They include that Husar had members of her staff perform baby sitting and dog walking chores, and that she had been abusive towards staff. Her office has had a big turnover. There has been speculation that she could lose preselection if the investigation finds against her.
In her statement late Tuesday Husar said: “The past few days have been incredibly difficult for my family. I’m a single mum and my first priority is the safety and wellbeing of my children.
“I have received threatening messages including threats of violence and have referred them to the Australian Federal Police.
“The best thing for me and my family right now is for us to be out of the spotlight so I can access support.
“I look forward to returning to my duties as the Member for Lindsay very soon. I love my community and there is no higher honour for me than representing the people of Western Sydney in Australia’s parliament.
“As I said last week, I respect and am co-operating with the independent process that is underway”.
Shorten said on Tuesday Husar had “been a hard-working member in her electorate” but he didn’t want to further comment until the inquiry was finished.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said: “I’ve always found her very passionate about Western Sydney, about the issues she cares about deeply, and entirely professional, but these serious matters should be dealt with through that independent investigation.”
Labor frontbencher Mike Kelly defended Husar, saying the use of staff members for some personal help was “a small price to pay for having a truly representative democracy and facilitating the ability of women to participate in our parliament.”
“You’ve got a hard-working young woman here, a single mother with three kids, having to juggle a very tough electorate in Lindsay with a lot of diverse issues and then of course do the commute to Canberra,” he told Sky.
Recently former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce took a stint of personal leave after a furore over his paid TV interview about his affair with his former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion, with whom he has a baby.
New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia are currently affected by a massive complex low pressure system, dropping temperatures and bringing rain, hail, wind and snow.
While complex low pressure systems like this come along every year or so, some Australians may be feeling whiplash after a particularly warm autumn.
Typically, as Victoria and Tasmania head into winter we see cold fronts that move from west to east, generating rain and thunderstorms. This weather system started off like that, but developed into a complex low that will stay with us for the rest of the week.
It’s the kind of weather system you see on average once every year or two. What is a little unusual is to see such a deep pool of cold Antarctic air so early in May. Canberra, for example, is forecast to have a maximum of 9℃ on Friday – which would be its coldest day in the first half of May since 1970.
In weather-speak, “complex” describes a weather system with an intricate structure. Starting as a cold front across Victoria and Tasmania, this complex low now has multiple low-pressure centres at the surface, and is interacting with a broad low-pressure system in the upper levels of the atmosphere. These upper and low-level weather systems reinforce each other.
The other factor contributing to the complexity is the warmer waters of the Tasman Sea. The East Australian Current brings warmer waters down the east coast, raising ocean surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea relative to the neighbouring Bass Strait and Southern Ocean. When these low pressure systems develop over the western Tasman Sea, that warm water provides a lot more energy through evaporation.
When all the elements align, with a cold front and its associated cold air mass moving over warm water, beneath an upper-level low in the same place providing reinforcement, a deep and complex low-pressure system can develop.
Difficult to predict
The Bureau of Meteorology usually has several days’ indication that a system like this may form, but development of multiple low-pressure centres at the surface makes it tricky to predict exactly where local impacts will strike.
These small-scale low-pressure centres influence exactly where the heaviest rain or strongest winds will be, as do features of the landscape like mountain ranges.
While we can make broad predictions of what may be on the way, it’s not until we get closer to the event that we can really start to be more specific about rainfall totals, wind speeds, and so on.
The Bureau gets minute-to-minute readings from our Automatic Weather Stations, but we have the ability increase the frequency of some of our measurements (for example, at the moment we have increased the frequency of weather balloon releases at Hobart airport), to get additional information about the atmosphere.
This system will move fairly slowly over the next couple of days, and different elements will impact different parts of Australia.
We’ve got cold air, wind and showers over Victoria and southern New South Wales at the moment, but there are parts of the east coast that are still quite warm today. Tasmania is starting to see windy conditions in Hobart and rain developing, and potentially heavy rain through the east of the state over the next couple of days.
Once the cold air moves further north into NSW we’ll expect snow at lower levels as far north as the Central Tablelands, and then as we move into the weekend the low pressure system will move out into the Tasman Sea.
We’ll then start to see swell increase, as the ocean responds to the weather system. Heavy swell and hazardous surf conditions could push well north along the NSW coast and potentially into southern Queensland by early next week.
Currently, severe weather warnings for wind have been issued across parts of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. Heavy rain warnings and flood watches are in place in Victoria, and flood watches and warnings are current in Tasmania as well.
Other specific warnings provide important information for those on the land – the Bureau has alerted sheep graziers, for example, to the impacts of cold, wet and windy conditions on exposed livestock.
While these warnings are all fairly standard for this kind of weather system, always follow the advice of emergency services. We’re the weather experts, but they’re certainly the experts on preparing for hazardous weather!
The way cities are designed and managed has big impacts on our health. While Australia is considered a world leader in research on health and cities, nationally our planning policies remain underdeveloped relative to our knowledge base. To remedy this, healthy planning advocates need to better understand how urban planning systems can be influenced.
Several recent, mostly positive, experiences in the New South Wales (NSW) planning system provide insights into this process. Each represents a milestone for land-use planning in this state given extensive reforms have been on and off the table for the past decade.
The connections between city planning and health are many and varied. Key aspects include environmental sustainability, pollution risks and liveable places. Being liveable means having access to healthy food, nearby employment and services, and opportunities for active lifestyles.
These issues are increasingly important given projected population growth pressures on urban infrastructure. Other areas facing similar pressures, in Australia and overseas, might wish to take note of what has happened in NSW.
Healthy planning has always had champions in NSW, but really hit its stride during a major legislative reform exercise that began in 2011. This came to a head in November 2017, when the state parliament passed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
This legislation now lists two objects of direct importance for health:
protection of the health and safety of occupants of buildings
promotion of good design and amenity of the built environment.
Also in 2017, the NSW Office of the Government Architect produced a policy of “design-led planning”. Known as “Better Placed”, this policy positions health as a top priority. It embeds health within design processes, methods and outcomes for different levels of planning from cities and towns to places and buildings.
In our view, Better Placed is an exemplary policy in demonstrating the importance of urban planning for health.
In another positive development, the Greater Sydney Commission recently released Metropolitan and District Plans that position health as a core objective (number 7). The plans consistently refer to health across the central themes of liveability, productivity and sustainability.
To their credit, the NSW government and the commission have developed plans concurrently with transport and infrastructure and released them together. The evidence suggests this integration should have public health benefits. The emphasis across the commission, transport and infrastructure plans on creating a liveable and accessible city increases our confidence in this outcome.
Our research suggests three crucial factors in elevating the status of health in planning.
1. A core group of non-government, government and academic representatives has led health advocacy for over a decade. The group’s messages and activities intentionally focused on collaboration across agencies in the public interest.
This advocacy has grown in sophistication since the early days of making submissions about “health” issues that risked being treated as peripheral to the main game of planning (infrastructure, for instance).
Within government, NSW Health (both state and local departments) has developed an increasingly effective response to urban planning opportunities for promoting and protecting health.
2. The previous minister for planning (Rob Stokes), the Office of the Government Architect and the Greater Sydney Commission have each provided vital policy mechanisms for including health. This illustrates the importance of particular agents in the right place at the right time.
The minister was essential in establishing the commission. This effectively created a respectful distance between strategic planning and the “economics trumps all” planning agenda seen in some policy environments.
The “design-led planning” emphasis came about when Stokes was planning minister. The starring role given to health in Better Placed gives healthy planning advocates, for the time being, unprecedented opportunity to influence strategies and plans.
3. Delivery now requires close attention, as these positive shifts alone have limited power. For instance, the commission’s plans emphasise collaborative infrastructure delivery to create an equitable city. Infrastructure has profound health impacts, costs and benefits.
Shifting infrastructure funding to benefit the city’s West will be the core fault line for delivering on promises of equitable infrastructure provision. However, infrastructure project funding and appraisal are crying out for reform. Better indicators, transparent analyses to inform options, improved governance arrangements and greater accountability have all been identified as required reforms.
The NSW planning system has begun to recognise the importance of urban planning for health. These developments present a tremendous opportunity to influence how healthy public policy can be delivered for the benefit of the whole city.
The Commonwealth government called last week for AGL Energy to consider selling its Liddell power station to rival Alinta.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has raised concerns that the scheduled 2022 shutdown of Liddell will affect New South Wales’ energy reliability. It’s suggested the sale would provide a way to keep the ageing power station open past the end of its normal 50-year operating life.
However, AGL responded to government concerns in December 2017 by releasing a replacement plan. Liddell’s theoretical maximum output is 1,800 megawatts (MW), but the firm capacity – the power that can be relied upon at peak time – is 1,000 MW. AGL is confident this can be replaced by a mix of improved efficiency, renewables and demand response.
AGL’s proposal unpacked
Late last year, in response to the Commonwealth government’s pressure, AGL updated its Liddell replacement plan. The updated plan includes generator efficiency upgrades, new natural gas and renewable energy generation capacity, and demand response.
This plan builds on the planned 2022 closure of the Liddell station. Phased investments in new, low-emissions generation and upgrades to existing generation will replace the 1,000 MW of coal-fired power by:
increasing the capacity of AGL’s nearby Bayswater coal-fired power station by 100MW
installing 750MW of high-efficiency gas power (at potential sites in Newcastle and/or elsewhere in NSW)
adding 1,600MW of new renewable generation capacity (wind and solar farms)
providing 100MW of firm capacity from demand response and 250MW from battery storage.
The replacement portfolio is split into three stages. The first aims for 550MW of new generation: 300MW from two solar power plants, to be built by third-party developers, and 250MW from a new gas peaking power station located at Newcastle (or other suitable sites in NSW).
Further, AGL has already approved 650MW of wind projects. The Bayswater efficiency upgrade will add 100MW to the capacity without burning any additional coal.
This, along with the 20MW of demand response, will provide the “firm capacity” required to meet existing customer needs, in line with the federal National Energy Guarantee. The “firm capacity factor” is the proportion of the installed capacity (the theoretical maximum) that can be relied upon to be available at peak time.
The next two stages will progressively add new capacity from renewables, battery storage and demand response to meet the energy needs of AGL’s potential uncontracted customers. Stage 2 and Stage 3 feasibility is expected to start by 2020 and 2021 respectively, for a 2022 delivery.
AGL’s Liddell replacement plan is designed to provide an equivalent amount of energy and dispatchable power at a similar level of reliability.
The plan’s total investment of A$1.36 billion is more than the A$920 million estimate of the 2027 Liddell extension plan, but once operating and fuel costs are included the average cost of replacement generation is more affordable at A$83 per megawatt hour (MWh), compared with extending the life of Liddell at A$106 per MWh.
Though the replacement plan has an installed capacity of 2,900MW, it accounts for a firm capacity of 1,000MW.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has endorsed AGL’s Liddell replacement plan. It said the plan provides more than enough energy and capacity to meet the potential shortfall created by the closure if AGL completes all three stages by the 2022 deadline.
Some of this plan is already under way, as the AGL board has approved the upgrades at Bayswater and Liddell and the new solar and wind power plants. However, the next two stages are dependent on market signals and investments other companies make in new resources.
If stages 2 and 3 of AGL’s plan are not undertaken in time and other market players do not invest, there could be a reliability gap that results in supply interruptions. While this is unlikely to occur, this is exactly the type of problem that the government’s National Energy Guarantee is supposed to fix. The guarantee envisions that retailers carry the responsibility of meeting the required amount for dispatchable energy. Failure to do so would invite financial penalties, with the energy market operator stepping in as the procurer of last resort.
However, AGL has proposed an adequate plan to meet the gap that the Liddell closure would create. It’s ultimately improbable that regulator intervention will be needed.
That said, AGL’s plan is not necessarily the best plan. There are other lower-emission options that are more cost-effective.
A study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (which I have contributed to) proposes a third “clean energy package”, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, demand response and flexible pricing. Rather than selling Liddell, if the Commonwealth is looking for low-cost and reliable solutions, this is the approach it should be pursuing.
It’s been a long time coming, but Australia is finally going to have a Space Agency. This will enable Australian space industries to benefit from agency-to-agency agreements and collaborations, and facilitate our participation in the growing global space market.
The Federal Government appointed an Expert Review Panel to map out how the Agency should operate. As we wait for its report – the final strategy was scheduled to be submitted in March 2018 – two space experts offer their perspectives on what we might expect.
What will an Australian Space Agency need in terms of people, resources and infrastructure?
It seems clear there is a real appetite on both sides of politics for an agency for our times, that embraces the excitement being generated by “Space 2.0” – that is, commercial entities, low-cost access to space and avoiding some of the baggage of the older legacy agencies.
It’s likely the focus will be on growing the Australian space industry, with less emphasis on space exploration, human space flight and space science. However, for the agency to have any impact or credibility, the people, resources and infrastructure must be provided at an adequate level.
I have in the past pointed to the UK agency as a good model – it basically cost “nothing” initially and significant funding followed when it succeeded. Now, I don’t think we can afford to replicate this in Australia. The agency needs to be properly funded from the beginning. Penny-pinching will kill it.
We’ve been here before and seen how a lack of resourcing plays out. The 1980s Australian Space Board was managed by a small office within the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, but it fizzled out after ten years and we were back to square one. There’s a strong feeling in the Australian space community that a substantial investment in a stand-alone agency is the only way to avoid another death by bureaucracy.
In terms of personnel, we’ll need leadership with credibility and experience in the global space arena, people familiar with how existing space activities across government departments work, and probably there’ll be a role for some kind of advisory or expert panels.
The structure will also be important. NASA, for example, runs 11 research centres, and the European Space Agency has nine centres or facilities, including the Kourou launch site in French Guiana. They support human spaceflight programs as well as deep space exploration. Both organisations use private contractors, and large chunks of the private space sector rely on them as clients. This is not a model that Australia can sustain.
Personally, I think it’s critical that the new agency also takes Indigenous interests on board. Indigenous people can’t be left out of conversations about the future of Australian space technologies.
How strongly should the Space Agency be linked with Defence programs?
Recently the Australian Strategic Policy Institute argued that we must develop a solid space industry for our own strategic and Defence needs. However, strong industries such as that in the US have a dominant civilian space sector.
So I would argue that to avoid this strategic weakness, it is more important to reinforce the independence of the civilian agency from Defence. It is the job of the agency to ensure this independence. Being overly close to Defence is likely to hamper the current civilian commercial drive so effectively being driven by the start-up community. Having a thriving civilian space sector can only benefit Defence anyway.
I agree with Andrew that forging a new civil and commercial space identity is essential.
Because the Woomera rocket launch site, one of our most significant space assets, is located in South Australia, as well as the Defence Science and Technology Group – which grew out of the Cold War weapons program – South Australia has traditionally been the focus of Defence-related space activities.
At this stage we can be hopeful that a properly funded space agency will allow equal participation across all states.
Where should Australia’s Space Agency be located?
There’s interest in where the agency will be located because there will be jobs associated with it. I’ve had so many enquiries from acquaintances – and strangers – asking about this.
People probably are thinking it will be something like NASA, with a whole industrial complex. We’re not anything like that scale. Having said that, a Canberra-based headquarters supported by state-based centres makes a lot of sense.
In terms of location, I agree there will need to be an administrative presence in Canberra, to interact with the Federal Government. Other satellite sites should reflect where the action is.
If there are to be satellite offices, they need to be close to where the industry is currently active, and where it is developing. This may require some sort of representation in each state.
Senator Kim Carr’s recent announcement of Labor’s policy of several hubs and centres lends itself very well to distributed activity around the country. Bipartisanship on that issue would be very helpful.
Which Australian states have relevant space capabilities right now?
I live in South Australia, so am naturally well acquainted with this state’s space achievements! A number of exciting new start-ups such as Fleet, Neumann Space and Myriota are based in Adelaide.
The three universities in South Australia have strengths in satellite telecommunications, space law and space heritage. At the international level, South Australia has been developing relationships with the French national space agency (CNES), as well as French aerospace industries.
I am from NSW so I have a particular interest in the NSW Department of Industry submission to the expert review panel. It suggested “the future Australian Space Agency should be based in NSW” and goes on to list 17 reasons why NSW dominates in space, such as having the largest space workforce, revenue, research effort, number of start-ups, venture capital and law presence.
The only centre funded by the Australian Research Council on space is in NSW, and two of the four satellites built and launched last year involved my university.
However, I don’t believe there is any benefit to highlighting one state over another. I’m with Raytheon Australia, whose official position is that state rivalry for Defence work is getting “hysterical” and we should be avoiding that with space work.
Back in 1958, the beginning of the Space Age, Australia was one of the founding members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. We’ve been kind of missing in action ever since.
The new Space Agency will allow us to have a credible voice on issues that may impact Australia – such as revisions to the international space treaties. It’s going to be exciting times ahead!
The Victorian election will be held on November 24, and the New South Wales election in March next year. Newspolls have been conducted in these states in February and early March from samples of 1,268 in Victoria and 1,526 in New South Wales. Labor led by 52-48 in Victoria, and was tied 50-50 in New South Wales, a one-point gain for Labor since February to March 2017.
In Victoria, primary votes were 39% Coalition, 37% Labor, 11% Greens and 6% One Nation. The last Victorian Newspoll was conducted in 2016, so it is not useful for comparison. However, Galaxy polling had Labor slumping to a 53-47 deficit in June 2017, before recovering to a 50-50 tie in December, so this Newspoll suggests a continuing trend to Labor.
Premier Daniel Andrews’ ratings were 46% satisfied, 41% dissatisfied. Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s ratings were 36% satisfied, 37% dissatisfied. Andrews led Guy 41-30 as better premier.
Labor led the Liberals 44-34 on party best to maintain energy supply and keep power prices lower, while the Liberals led 42-37 on law and order. 65% thought the Andrews government should be doing more to reduce gang violence, while just 25% thought it was doing enough.
This poll will be a major disappointment for right-wing media that have campaigned strongly against Labor on the gang violence issue. Despite this campaign, the Liberals only have a five-point lead over Labor on law and order, a conservative-leaning issue. Other issues are likely to be helping Labor.
In New South Wales, primary votes were 38% Coalition (down two), 34% Labor (steady), 11% Greens (up one) and 8% One Nation (steady). This Newspoll is the first since early 2008 that has not had a Coalition lead after preferences.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ratings were 45% satisfied (up one since February to March 2017), 35% dissatisfied (up 14). Opposition Leader Luke Foley’s ratings were 37% satisfied (up five), 35% dissatisfied (down one). Berejiklian led Foley 43-25 as better premier (43-21 previously).
New South Wales is the only state that now uses optional preferential voting for single-member electorates. All other state and national elections use compulsory preferential voting (Queensland changed to compulsory preferential during the last parliamentary term).
Populists dominate Italian election
At the Italian election on March 4, the centre-right coalition won 37.0% of the vote, the populist left Five Star Movement won 32.7% and the centre-left coalition 22.9%. Within the right coalition, the anti-immigrant populist League won 17.4%, while former PM Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia had just 14.0%.
37% of both chambers of the Italian Parliament were elected by “first past the post”, while the remainder used proportional representation. The right coalition’s narrow lead over the Five Star Movement did not allow them to win a large majority of the first past the post seats, and they were well short of an overall majority.
42-43% of both chambers went to the right coalition, 36% to the Five Star Movement and 18-19% to the left coalition. A governing coalition could be formed between Five Star and the Democratic Party, the main component of the left coalition. It is also possible that the League and Five Star could combine, or a new election may be needed.
More than five months after election, German government formed
On March 4, the Social Democrats’ members voted by 66-34 to join Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in a grand coalition – the same right/left coalition that had governed Germany from 2013-17.
At the September 2017 election, the Social Democrats’ vote had fallen to 20.5% – its lowest in a free election since 1932. Since the election, their vote has fallen to about 17%. It is difficult for a centre-left party in coalition with conservatives to differentiate itself.
By the next German election, due in 2021, it would be no surprise if the Social Democrats had fallen into single figures, and been overtaken by one or both of the more left-wing parties – the Greens and the Left.
Centre-left parties faltering in Europe, but UK Labour is performing much better
The German and Italian elections are examples of a Europe-wide problem for centre-left parties. The exception appears to be the UK, where Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour won 40% at the June 2017 election, and is now neck-and-neck with the Conservatives, with both parties in the 40’s.
I believe the most important cause of this disparity is that UK Labour has adopted many populist left policies, while European centre-left parties resist populist policies.
Putin set for crushing victory at March 18 Russian election
Incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin is polling over 60%, and will win the first round of the Russian Presidential election on March 18 with an outright majority, avoiding a runoff. The other candidates all have under 10% support.
Our research suggests that the NSW government should invest in smaller community events and sporting organisations that make use of existing facilities. We tracked 480 community events across Australia and found that they generated A$550 million in revenue.
These events also contribute more than A$10 billion a year to their local communities, support 100,000 jobs, and help build local business networks and skills.
The benefits of grassroots events
In contrast to major, one-off events that require large infrastructure and marketing budgets, there are thousands of small community events across Australia every month. Each might only attract a few hundred people, but the revenue adds up.
Places that have consciously fostered grassroots community events, such as Ballarat and Hobart, enjoy healthy visitor numbers year-round, without overwhelming the local infrastructure.
Smaller community events make good use of existing facilities such as RSL clubs, showgrounds and parks. They tend to hire labour, PA systems, portaloos and catering from the local community, keeping dollars in circulation locally.
In contrast to mega-events that subcontract management to large firms, community events integrate more participation from their local communities. This not only improves local business networks, but also enhances local skills and leadership.
The evidence also overwhelmingly shows that public investment in major events isn’t worth it. Promised benefits are often exaggerated, and in the words of a recent review of the international research:
…any increased economic activity resulting from the event is routinely dwarfed by additional public budgetary commitments.
Sydneysiders may have enjoyed the experience of hosting the 2000 Olympic Games, but increases in tourism and business investment failed to materialise. Rio de Janeiro is struggling with recession in the wake of its 2016 Summer Olympics. The money spent on the Olympics would probably have been better spent upgrading hospitals and other infrastructure.
This is partly why cities are backing away from hosting major sporting events. When the International Olympic Committee opened the bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, all but two cities – Paris and Los Angeles – withdrew their bids.
The fact that no other city was prepared to bid shows that the justifications for lucrative mega-events are wearing thin, both financially and politically.
The NSW government recently defended its plan to rebuild stadiums by arguing that the revenue generated by major sporting events will easily pay for itself within a few short years. Economists beg to differ.
Such estimates are typically based on conducting visitor surveys at events and asking punters to estimate their total spending. This is not good research methodology.
It can also be hard for visitors to differentiate between money spent while at a specific event, and their spending elsewhere on their holiday.
We also need to subtract all of the money that would have been spent whether or not a major event takes place. This includes spending by people who live in the area, those who rescheduled travel plans to coincide with the event, and those who would have done some other activity (also known as “time-switching”) instead of going to the event.
In other words, take all the Sydneysiders, casual visitors and time-switchers out of calculations of, say, weekly NRL game revenue at the Olympic or Sydney football stadia. The actual amount of “new” revenue for Sydney is much less impressive.
This is why a sober analysis of the true costs and benefits, and actual revenue numbers, are needed before governments rush to invest in major sports and event infrastructure.
If NSW truly wants to foster the events economy, the evidence suggests that money would be better spent on local community events and sporting organisations.
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has been returned to parliament with a big swing toward him in his New South Wales seat of New England.
With around half the vote counted, Joyce had won a swing on primary votes of about 11%, polling about 63% compared with 52% at the 2016 election.
A delighted Malcolm Turnbull, appearing at the Tamworth victory celebration with Joyce, told the crowd it appeared to be “the largest swing to the government in the history of byelections in Australia”.
Turnbull said it been a “stunning victory” and he would relish “getting the band back together”.
Surrounded by his parliamentary team, Joyce said it was a massive win for the Nationals.
He also paid tribute to the embattled Turnbull, saying running a country was a little bit harder than running sheep through a gate – and “you need someone with the skillset of this fellow here”.
The vote follows a week in which rebel Nationals forced the government to launch a royal commission into the banks. On Friday the NSW Nationals’ leader and deputy premier, John Barilaro, launched an extraordinary attack on Turnbull, saying he should quit by Christmas.
The byelection campaign was dirty at times, with persistent chatter about Joyce’s personal life. It was forced by the High Court ruling Joyce ineligible to sit in parliament because he was a dual New Zealand citizen via his father.
The result shows voters did not blame Joyce for his failure to do the proper checks, instead extending something of a sympathy vote to him.
Joyce had always been expected to be comfortably returned but the swing is a morale booster for the Nationals in particular and the government generally. Joyce’s return to parliament and the role of deputy prime minister will bring the government’s numbers in the lower house to 75.
But for Turnbull, the test will be in Bennelong at the December 16 byelection, where John Alexander, who resigned in the dual citizenship crisis, faces a tough battle to hold the seat against Labor’s Kristina Keneally.
The Nationals’ federal president Larry Anthony told the Saturday night celebration: “This is the reset, but not just for the National Party … but for the government”.
It remains to be seen whether the result will embolden the Nationals to further differentiate their brand over coming months.
This could in part depend on how Bennelong goes, as well as whether the opinion polls remain strongly against the government. If so, the Nationals’ vote at the next election may be best maximised by running their own race.
In an interview with Sky, Joyce acknowledged there were some issues in the Coalition that needed to be “ironed out” and “we are doing that”.
Joyce has picked up a sizeable portion of the 29% of the vote that went at the 2016 election to Tony Windsor, the former independent who held the seat previously. In the field of 17 candidates, Labor, on a vote of around 11%, has achieved only a minor swing of about 4%.
The ALP put little effort into the seat, with Bill Shorten never appearing in the campaign. Turnbull ridiculed the Labor performance, saying its vote was comfortably ahead of the informal vote.
Rebel Nationals backbencher George Christensen, whose possible defection had been a matter of speculation, confirmed to Joyce by text that he would be staying in the party.
In a social media post on Saturday, Christensen said that since the banking royal commission was announced on Thursday, he had reconsidered what could be achieved within the framework of government.
He had also had discussions with local mayors and community leaders, local LNP members and party elders, and Nationals colleagues.
“The consensus is that the Nationals need to be a stronger force within the government for both conservative values and country Australia and that people like me need to remain in the Nationals and government to ensure that happens,” he wrote.
“I am assured that, with Barnaby Joyce set to be returned to Canberra by the good people of New England today, we will have a more assertive and independently minded National Party with a reinvigorated leader at the helm.
“That’s good news for the people of Australia and should point the government in a new direction. That’s why, despite serious earlier misgivings, I will remain completely with the Nationals and, ultimately, with the government.”
Malcolm Turnbull has faced an extraordinary attack from the New South Wales Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro, who has called on Turnbull to give people a “Christmas gift” by quitting immediately.
Barilaro’s scathing denunciation of Turnbull’s leadership came on the eve of the weekend New England byelection, where Nationals federal leader Barnaby Joyce is seeking to re-enter parliament after being disqualified by the High Court.
It is part of the rippling fallout from last Saturday’s Queensland election, where the Liberal National Party was defeated and the Nationals were left spooked by a big One Nation vote in regional areas.
Barilaro was furious that Turnbull denied federal factors affected the Queensland loss. “That is just a joke,” he told Alan Jones on 2GB, saying Turnbull was “completely out of touch”.
“You’ve got a party in disarray, a Coalition government in disarray and the community is not unified. And that is all at the feet of the prime minister of Australia.”
Turnbull should have apologised to the Queensland LNP and the people of Queensland “because the shenanigans and the circus that is the federal government today is the reason that we saw the shellacking” of the opposition in that state, Barilaro said.
He said he had just spent four days travelling in the southern part of NSW, where he was confronted by people from all sides of politics who kept talking about the lack of leadership federally.
If Turnbull, who could not win an election, did not leave the leadership he would be stabbed in the back in coming months, Barilaro said.
“Turnbull is the problem, the prime minister is the problem. He should step down, allow for a clean out of what the leadership looks like federally,” he said. “What we want to see federally is a reset if the Liberals and Nationals have got a chance of winning the next federal election.”
He said Turnbull had delivered very little since becoming leader. “My view is Turnbull should give Australians a Christmas gift and go before Christmas.”
The comments follow the exposure of Turnbull’s political weakness in Canberra this week, when the government was forced into announcing a royal commission on banking after a revolt by rebel federal Nationals.
The royal commission will be led by firner High Court Judge Kenneth Hayne and will be asked to deliver a final report by February 1, 2019, with an interim report before that. The terms of reference ARE tight: “it’s not going to be an inquiry into capitalism”, Turnbull said.
The Barilaro intervention will fuel more talk about the leadership, although there are not believed to be any active moves to replace Turnbull at this point.
Turnbull reacted dismissively, saying he thought Barilaro was “just trying to ingratiate himself with Alan and telling him what he wants to hear”.
He said Barilaro had “never raised these matters with me personally”.
“If that was a serious view he held, you would think that he would speak to me directly wouldn’t you?” Turnbull said on 3AW.
Turnbull said nobody had come to him to suggest his time as leader was running out.
Federal ministers rallied around Turnbull, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian rejected what she described as Barilaro’s “personal view”, with which she disagreed. She said she looked forward to continuing to work with the Turnbull government.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann all hit back at Barilaro.
Fifield targeted Barilaro in personal terms. “To get a run by whacking your own side requires no political skill. It’s weak. And it’s lazy. And it lacks character.” He said Turnbull “is doing an excellent job as the leader of the nation”.
This coming parliamentary week, expected to be the last for the year, is likely to be challenging for Turnbull.
A Newspoll is due, the MPs’ citizenship declarations will be considered – which also could be difficult for Labor – and the ALP will be out to put pressure on the government over penalty rate cuts and other issues in the run-up to the Bennelong byelection on December 16.
The mood of the week will be affected by the vote in New England. While Joyce is regarded as certain to win, there is a huge field and the size of his primary vote will be carefully watched.