NAB’s Andrew Thorburn and Ken Henry quit after royal commission lashing


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The banking royal commission report has claimed its first high-profile victims, with National Australia Bank’s chief executive officer Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry quitting their positions.

The two were subject to scathing assessments in the report from
commissioner Kenneth Hayne.

Hayne said that after having heard from both men he was “not as confident as I would wish to be that the lessons of the past have been learned.

More particularly, I was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, and then having its staff act accordingly. I thought it telling that Dr Henry seemed unwilling to accept any criticism of how the board had dealt with some issues.

I thought it telling that Mr Thorburn treated all issues of fees for no service as nothing more than carelessness combined with system deficiencies … Overall, my fear – that there may be a wide gap between the public face NAB seeks to show and what it does in practice – remains.

In a statement late Thursday, NAB said Thorburn would finish at the end of this month while Henry would leave the board once a new CEO had been appointed.

The board will search internationally for a CEO while also considering internal candidates, the statement said.

Philip Chronican, a NAB director with extensive banking experience
will act as CEO from March 1 until a replacement is found.




Read more:
Defence mechanisms. Why NAB chairman Ken Henry lost his job


It has been speculated that Mike Baird, former NSW premier, a senior executive at NAB could get the CEO post.

Thorburn, who has been CEO since 2005, said he had had a number of
conversations with Henry this week.

“I acknowledge that the bank has sustained damage as a result of its past practices and comments in the royal commission’s final report about them.

“As CEO, I understand accountability. I have always sought to act in the best interests of the bank and customers and I know that I have always acted with integrity. However, I recognise there is a desire for change.”

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Bevan Shields tweeted: “NAB boss Andrew Thorburn effectively says in a call just now that he was sacked by the board and didn’t voluntarily resign”.

Thornburn appeared to be fighting for his job early this week, cancelling leave, but he admitted on Tuesday that he could not guarantee he would still have his position on Friday.

Henry, a former secretary of the federal treasury, said he and the
board had recognised change was needed.

“The timing of my departure will minimise disruption for customers,
employees and shareholders,” he said.

He said the board should have the opportunity to appoint a new chair as NAB “seeks to reset its culture and ensure all decisions are made on behalf of customers.

“I am enormously proud of what the bank has achieved and equally
disappointed about what the royal commission has brought to light in areas where we have not met customer expectations.

“Andrew and I are deeply sorry for this. My decision is not made in
reaction to any specific event, but more broadly looking at the bank’s needs in coming months and years.”

The Board is to recruit new non-executive directors “to increase
diversity of thinking and experience”. It will also establish a board committee for customer outcomes.

Chronican, who joined the NAB board in 2016, said he was “confident in our existing strategy to
transform the bank to be better for customers”.

“Our strategy and the self-assessment we completed into our culture, governance and accountability set out clearly the steps we need to take to change and we are committed to them,” he said.



In a mea culpa interview on Thursday night, Henry told the ABC that what had changed since the indications on Tuesday that he and
Thorburn would stay on was that “we’ve had further time for
reflection.

“And we came to the view jointly really that it was in the best
interests of NAB that we take the decision together to step down from our respective roles.”

He said the enduring legacy of the commission’s report “will be that intense scrutiny that it has shone on financial institutions and the way it’s forced senior people in those organisations to confront some really challenging things”.

Asked whether there was as wide a gap as Hayne said between the public face the NAB sought to present and what was does in practice, Henry said: “There is a big gap.




Read more:
Hayne’s failure to tackle bank structure means that in a decade or so another treasurer will have to call another royal commission


“The gap as I see it is NAB does aspire to do the right thing by every customer every time and everywhere. And we’re a long way from that. We’ve got an absolute mountain to climb in NAB in order to achieve our aspiration for the bank”, although it was on the right path.

“We’ve not been able to satisfy customer expectations, nor community expectations … For that, we’re deeply sorry”.

He and Thorburn hoped their departures would “contribute to the
development of a better industry that’s capable of delivering better outcomes for customers”.

Quizzed about his performance at the commission, which was widely
criticised as looking defensive and contemptuous, Henry said he was initially surprised by that commentary.

“And I was upset by it. The more I thought about it – and I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve relived that appearance – I understand
the criticism. I did not perform well. I really should have performed quite differently. I should have been much more open”.

He said he believed he was leaving NAB in better shape than he found it. “And yet… I also believe that we are not much closer yet to delivering on community expectations. So the gap that was there, that gap still remains. We’ve closed it a bit. We have an intention to close it completely with the investments we’re making and the changes that are under way in the bank.

“That remains the aspiration. I’m confident within a few years,
hopefully much sooner than that, NAB will be a much stronger
institution than when I joined it”.




Read more:
Banking Royal Commission: no commissions, no exemptions, no fees without permission. Hayne gets the government to do a U-turn


The Conversation


Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Liberals lose yet another high-profile woman, yet still no action on gender


Mark Kenny, Australian National University

Liberal women must surely be asking why their party is so clear-eyed when facilitating the departure of competent women, and yet so mealy-mouthed about recruiting and promoting them.

Prominent among Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments on Kelly O’Dwyer’s retirement to pursue family life, was to say he supported his minister’s decision, and indeed supported all such choices by women.

Such clarity has been conspicuously absent from the Liberal Party’s leadership since its now widely accepted “women” problem came to the fore in 2018 amid claims of bullying, implied career threats, ingrained gender bias, and other generally oafish behaviour.

Even more opaque has been the Liberal Party’s puzzling refusal to broach any corrective action to address a powerful internal preference for men, when selecting candidates in winnable seats. This, despite a miserable return of just 13 female MPs of its 76 in the lower house after the 2016 election.

It is even worse now, and voters are on to it.

Not the first such departure

O’Dwyer is the second female Liberal from Victoria to call it quits in six months after her friend, the talented rookie backbencher Julia Banks, spectacularly called time on the party in the wake of Malcolm Turnbull’s brutal ouster.

Banks went to the cross bench to form a quartet of competent female moderates with past ties or sympathies to the centre-right – Banks, Kerryn Phelps, Rebekha Sharkie, and Cathy McGowan.

There have been other high-profile departures this term also on family grounds with two frontbenchers on the Labor side – former minister Kate Ellis, and rising star Tim Hammond – both bowing out.

That federal politics is hard on families and relationships is hardly news, but the slew of resignations / defections underscores how little has been done to change things.

And poignant, given her portfolio

In any event, O’Dwyer’s retreat is arguably the most pointed given the current debate, her particular government portfolio, her hard-won ministerial seniority, and her party’s woes.

It makes Liberal retention of her previously safe Melbourne seat of Higgins somewhere between problematic and unlikely.

On the social media platform Twitter where cynicism and vitriol flows freely from people hiding behind false identities, her departure has been met with some appallingly personal abuse, exaggerated outrage, and claims she was merely a rat leaving a sinking ship.

It is true that retaining the seat would have been no certainty even with O’Dwyer still as the candidate, especially given Victoria’s recent anti-conservative tendencies in state election races, but with a new candidate, the Liberal jewel is undoubtedly more vulnerable.

Feminists will be aggrieved to see another senior woman go but they might also be quietly disappointed in her stated reasons.

In contradistinction to some of her predecessors, O’Dwyer, did substantive work as minister for women, and unlike some, gave the impression of actually believing in the mission.

She also garnered respect from across the aisle and within the press gallery as a person of warmth and humility – stand-out qualities on Capital Hill.

It is a portfolio she believed in

O’Dwyer created enemies however on her party’s increasingly reactionary right flank by outlining the challenges for women – especially in politics – acknowledging the Liberal Party’s poor image in some quarters.

She was even reputed to have told colleagues they were seen as a bunch of “homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers”.

Her introduction of a women’s economic security statement last year was another material achievement resisted by some as political correctness.

But in declaring her job’s incompatibility with family life, there was an unmistakable note of resignation, even defeat in O’Dwyer’s “choice”. And coming from the minister most directly involved in remediating that problem for women, her resignation cannot help but reinforce the message that politics may well be no place for women.

Morrison’s superficially virtuous support for the choices for women, was no help either – typical of much conservative sophistry around this whole issue.

Morrison isn’t helping

Masquerading as a pro-choice feminist while endorsing a senior colleague’s decision to give up her career for child-rearing and home duties takes some chutzpah.

An alternative approach might have been to lament her departure as symptomatic of a flawed representational system, acknowledge the failure of politics to renovate its male paradigm, and vow to change the culture in material ways.

It might even be called leadership.

For a government laced with longstanding (if undeclared) quotas for ministerial selection – think ratios in the ministry applied to the number of Libs to Nats, House to Senate, moderates to conservatives, and even between states – the blind spot over women’s under-representation and the philosophical objection to corrective action (quotas) is all the more bizarre.

It is a mark of how far conservative Liberals have drifted from contemporary public attitudes and even their own philosophy that some would countenance re-nationalising of energy assets and building new coal-fired power stations before correcting a clear market imperfection within their own organisation.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Julie Bishop will be open to post-politics offers


And with speculation that Julie Bishop could also withdraw from the 2019 field, the situation facing Morrison’s Liberals threatens to deepen.

Through all of this, voters’ views come second.

Not so long ago, Bishop was easily the most popular alternative to Malcolm Turnbull in voter land but such unrivalled public support was good for just 11 votes in the party room.The Conversation

Mark Kenny, Senior Fellow, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

View from The Hill: O’Dwyer’s decision turns the spotlight onto Bishop


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The political down time over summer can be something of a respite for
an embattled government. But for Scott Morrison, it has just brought
more setbacks. The weekend announcement by cabinet minister Kelly
O’Dwyer that she will leave parliament at the election is the latest
and most serious.

O’Dwyer says she wants to see more of her two young children, and
would like to have a third, which involves medical challenges.

Her decision is understandable. The first woman to have a baby while a
federal cabinet minister has been juggling an enormous load.

But with the general expectation that the Morrison government is
headed for opposition, many people will think (rightly or wrongly)
that O’Dwyer was also influenced by the likelihood she faced the grind
of opposition, which is a lot less satisfying than the burden of
office.

Bad timing for the minister for women

Her insistence at Saturday’s joint news conference with Morrison
that he will win the election won’t convince anyone.

If the Liberals didn’t have their acute “woman problem”, O’Dwyer’s
jumping ship wouldn’t be such a concern. She’s been a competent
minister, not an outstanding performer. She was not in “future leader”
lists.

But it’s altogether another matter to have your minister for women
bailing out when there has been a huge argument about the dearth of
females in Coalition ranks, damaging allegations of bullying within
the Liberal party, and high profile Victorian backbencher Julia Banks
deserting to the crossbench.

All in all, the Liberal party is presenting a very poor face to women
voters. It was O’Dwyer herself who told colleagues last year that the
Liberals were widely regarded as “homophobic, anti-women,
climate-change deniers”.

Anti-women climate-change deniers?

An effort earlier this month to have assistant ministers Sarah
Henderson and Linda Reynolds talk up the Liberals’ credentials on women looked like the gimmick it was.

O’Dwyer says she has “no doubt” her successor as the Higgins candidate will be a woman. Morrison also says he thinks there will be a female replacement.

But this just highlights how the Liberal party’s failure to bring
enough women through the ranks now forces it into unfortunate corners.

The candidate will be chosen by a local preselection. As one
journalist quipped at the news conference, is the situation that blokes needn’t apply?

And what if a man happened to win? Remember Morrison’s experience in the Wentworth byelection, where he wanted a woman and the preselectors gave him Dave Sharma?




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Wentworth preselectors’ rebuff to Morrison caps week of mayhem


Sharma was generally considered a good candidate – and Morrison is happy for him to have his second try against independent Kerryn Phelps at the general election.

Assuming, however, that Higgins preselectors heed the gender call,
it seems they will have some strong female contenders to choose from.

Paediatrician Katie Allen, who contested the state election, has
flagged she will run; Victorian senator Jane Hume is considering a
tilt.

There is inevitable speculation about whether former Abbott chief-
of-staff Peta Credlin might chance her arm for preselection.

But her hard-edged political stance would be a risk in an electorate
where the Greens have been strong – savvy Liberals point out a climate
sceptic wouldn’t play well there. And it would be embarrassing for her
if she ran for preselection and was defeated.

O’Dwyer rejects the suggestion she was swayed by the possibility she
might lose Higgins. Some Liberals were pessimistic about the seat
after the party’s drubbing in the Victorian election, and Labor was
ahead in two-party terms in a poll it commissioned late last year.




Read more:
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer says Liberals were ‘subject to threats’ in leadership battle


But the government has a 10% margin in two-party terms against Labor, and despite the polling the ALP doesn’t expect to win the seat. (In 2016 the Greens finished second.)

O’Dwyer, who is also minister for jobs and industrial relations,
remains in her positions and in cabinet until the election.
Understandably Morrison would not want a reshuffle. But having a lame
duck minister in the important IR portfolio is less than optimal.

Attention turns to Bishop

Inevitably O’Dwyer’s announcement has turned attention onto the future
of former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop. Bishop has said she is
contesting the election but there is continuing speculation she might
withdraw.

While she has previously left open the possibility of running for the
opposition leadership this makes no sense.

Now in her early 60s, her chances of ever becoming PM would be
virtually nil if Labor won with a good majority and was set for two
terms. That’s if she had the numbers to get the leadership in the
first place.

It is assumed Bishop has said she’s staying so she stymies any replacement
she doesn’t want (such as attorney-general Christian Porter whose own
seat is at risk) and can secure a candidate she favours.

Even though she’s a backbencher now, it would be a another blow for
the Liberals if Bishop does decide to retire at the election.




Read more:
Julie Bishop goes to backbench, Marise Payne becomes new foreign minister


She was humiliated when she received only a handful of votes in the
August leadership ballot. Her treatment left her deeply angry,
especially because none of her Western Australian colleagues supported
her.

But out in the community she is very popular and many voters still
can’t understand why, when there was a change of prime minister, she
was not the one chosen.

If Bishop were to walk away, she would be making a rational decision.
But it would send another powerful negative vibe to voters about
the Liberal party and women.


UPDATE: Jane Hume, interviewed on the ABC on Monday morning, has
ruled out running for the Higgins preselection.

UPDATE: In reply to queries to her office, Bishop said on Monday: “I am pre-selected as the member for Curtin and it is my intention to run”.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Four MPs resign as citizenship crisis causes more havoc


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Update

Voters in four states will face byelections after three Labor MPs and a crossbencher announced they were resigning from parliament in the wake of a landmark High Court decision disqualifying ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher on the grounds that she was a dual British citizen when she nominated for the 2016 election.

Labor’s Josh Wilson (WA), Justine Keay (TAS), and Susan Lamb (QLD) and the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie (SA) quit within hours of the judgement.

Another byelection will also come from the proposed resignation of the ALP’s Tim Hammond (WA) who is stepping down for family reasons.

Lamb, who holds the highly marginal Queensland seat of Longman will have to renounce her British citizenship before she can recontest her seat. Bill Shorten said he was confident she could do so in time for a byelection.

Earlier story

The High Court has disqualified ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher from sitting in parliament, in a decision opening the way for four byelections, three of them in Labor seats.

The decision, reigniting the citizenship crisis, has transformed the immediate political landscape, overshadowing Tuesday’s budget and putting immense pressure on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who delivers his budget reply on Thursday, to have three ALP MPs immediately quit.

Gallagher was ineligible to sit because she had not completed the renunciation of her dual British citizenship when she nominated for the 2016 election.

The four MPs in the firing line are Susan Lamb in the Queensland seat of Longman (0.8% margin), Justine Keay from Braddon in Tasmania (2.2%), Josh Wilson who holds Fremantle in Western Australia (7.5%) and crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie from the South Australian seat of Mayo (5.4%).

Labor already faces a byelection for the seat of Perth, with Tim Hammond announcing last week he would resign for family reasons.

Attorney-General Christian Porter declared the court had provided a “crisp and crystal-clear clarification” of the law. He called for the resignations of the Labor MPs by the end of the day.

Porter flatly rejected Shorten’s earlier statement that the court had set a new precedent. Shorten said Labor would now consider the implications of the decision.

Porter said for Shorten to claim it was a reinterpretation was “talking absolute rubbish”.

“We all knew what the circumstance was last October”, when the court ruled on the case of the Nationals’ Matt Canavan, Porter said.

“Bill Shorten must require the resignation of those three Labor members today, and that must occur before close of business today,” he said.

Neither side looks forward to a plethora of byelections, which are expensive and with unpredictable fallout, so close to a general election.

The contest in Longman would be testing for Labor. The Liberals would have a prospect of picking up Mayo. Sharkie is from the Centre Alliance, formerly the Nick Xenophon Team, the fortunes of which have collapsed.

University of Sydney constitutional expert Anne Twomey said the crux of the court’s decision was that the test of someone having taken reasonable steps to renounce their foreign citizenship – the argument on which Gallagher relied – applied only when the country actually or effectively would not let the person renounce. This did not apply with UK citizenship.

Twomey said the four MPs in question, who were all British citizens when they nominated, were in similar circumstances to Gallagher’s.

She added that “the real problem will be for those people from countries where it is difficult to renounce or it takes a very long time.

“Parties will have to complete pre-selection at least a year before an election to allow sufficient time for renunciation, and even this might not be enough for people from some countries.

“It will also narrow the field for filling casual vacancies to those who have no foreign citizenship, so that renunciation problems can be avoided. The big message here for anyone who might want to be a member of parliament in the future is to renounce now.”

George Williams, from the University of New South Wales, said there could be more MPs caught by the decision.

As a senator, Gallagher’s disqualification does not trigger a byelection – she is set to be replaced on a recount by the next person on the ALP ticket, David Smith.

Sharkie said she would now take urgent legal advice.

“It is my belief that the particulars of my circumstances are materially different to Senator Gallagher’s case. My paperwork was lodged and received by the UK Home Office before the election was called. My paperwork was returned before the election was held.”

Porter rejected her argument that her circumstances were different.

Gallagher said she had always acted on legal advice which indicated she satisfied the eligibility requirements. But she respected court’s decision.

“I believe that I have more to contribute to public life and I will take the time to talk with Labor Party members on how I can do this over the months ahead,” she said.

The citizenship crisis has claimed nine federal parliamentarians since the election. Another two, Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander, were either ruled ineligible or resigned but are still in parliament after being returned at byelections.

The ConversationIn the earlier stages of the citizenship crisis Shorten had been adamant that all Labor MPs had fulfilled the constitutional requirement on citizenship.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Barnaby Joyce succumbs to pressure and will go to backbench



File 20180223 72445 zvob7o.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Barnaby Joyce announces he will stand down as deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party.
AAP/Marlon Dalton

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Barnaby Joyce has capitulated to intense pressure and announced he will stand down, declaring the government needs clear air and he could not continue on the frontbench with an allegation of sexual harassment hanging over him.

He told a news conference in Armidale he would quit as Nationals leader and deputy prime minister on Monday at an 8am party meeting, where a new leader will be chosen.

After hanging tough for more than a fortnight, Joyce said the final straw was the harassment allegation, by a Western Australian woman, that was made to the Nationals federal president Larry Anthony and revealed on Thursday.

He had asked that the allegation, which he denies, be referred to the police. “But it’s quite evident that you can’t go to the despatch box with issues like that surrounding you.”




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: The Nationals have been paralysed by the extraordinary and unpredictable Joyce situation


Malcolm Turnbull, who last week said Joyce “has to consider his own position” and will be relieved at his departure from the frontbench, quickly affirmed in a statement that the Coalition “partnership is undiminished”.

The crisis over Joyce, sparked by revelations in the Daily Telegraph of his affair of his former staffer and now pregnant partner Vikki Campion, has consumed and distracted the government, wiping out what promised to be a good start to the year.

The favourite to replace Joyce as leader is Michael McCormack, a junior minister from New South Wales. He is minister for veterans’ affairs and minister for defence personnel.

Joyce informed Acting Prime Minister Mathias Cormann and his Nationals colleagues before his announcement. He did not speak with Turnbull, who is in Washington. A week ago, Joyce denounced Turnbull’s very personal attack on him.

Today he said it was “incredibly important that there be a circuit-breaker, not just for the parliament but more importantly a circuit breaker for Vikki, for my unborn child, my daughters and for (wife) Nat”.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on Barnaby Joyce’s ‘week off’


He said that over the past half a month there had been a litany of allegations. “I don’t believe any of them have been sustained.”

He condemned “the leaking, the backgrounding … it will destroy not only our government. It will destroy any government.”

Joyce confirmed he would stay in the parliament, and said he wouldn’t snipe from the backbench. “I have a lot of things I need to do,” he said. He was writing a book, and he wanted to assist his colleagues where he could to keep their seats. And his baby would be born in April. So “I’ll have other things on my mind”.

Joyce’s exit to the backbench means another reshuffle, hard on the heels of the December changes. Meanwhile John McVeigh, a Queensland Liberal who is minister for regional development, will act in Joyce’s infrastructure portfolio.

Joyce has been leader of the Nationals and deputy prime minister since February 2016.

The ConversationWhile Joyce’s stepping down will relieve pressure on the government, there will still be intense questioning next week in Senate estimates about the employment arrangements for Campion, who was transferred from Joyce’s office to that of Resources Minister Matt Canavan, and later to the office of then-Nationals whip Damian Drum.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Nick Xenophon set to go back to where he came from



File 20171006 25745 or4t25
Nick Xenophon is a tough dealmaker who demands concessions in return for his crucial numbers.
AAP/David Mariuz

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Nick Xenophon, the master of the stunt, is about to indulge in one more before he leaves the Senate for a run at ruling the South Australian roost from its crossbench.

After his shock announcement that he’s about to quit federal parliament, Xenophon is off to the US where, early on Monday morning Australian time, he’ll appear with Australian Ugg boot manufacturer Eddie Oygur to protest outside Deckers Outdoor Corporation headquarters in Santa Barbara.

The small business of “Aussie battler” Oygur is being sued for an alleged breach of trademark of the word “Ugg” and the boot’s patent design.

They’ll have with them, according to the pre-publicity screed from Xenophon’s office, “a flock of sheep”. It’s all about pulling wool over consumers’ eyes and fleecing Eddie, you see.

It’s typical Xenophon, an extraordinarily popular and populist politician who specialises in the corny as well as the canny.

Xenophon insists his resignation is not influenced by the cloud over his parliamentary eligibility – the High Court next week considers his, and other MPs’, dual citizenship. If that went badly for him, he’d be out of the Senate anyway.

We can accept his word. Not only do colleagues say he’s been chewing over the possible change for months – although the actual decision is recent – but a source within the government ruefully admits there were hints that weren’t picked up at the time.

Regardless of the court outcome, the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) numbers are safe. If he loses the case, Xenophon’s Senate spot would be filled by the next person on the 2016 election ticket – Tim Storer, who runs a trade consultancy. If his position is upheld his party will choose his replacement.

At last year’s election Xenophon went from a one-man band to having a team of three senators and one lower house member. NXT Senate support is needed to pass government legislation that is opposed by Labor and the Greens.

With a government that wants to get measures through, the NXT – like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, with four Senate votes – is in an enormously powerful position. The difference between Xenophon and Hanson is that he usually extracts a price.

He’s a tough dealmaker, who demands concessions in return for his crucial numbers.

Government negotiators sometimes can’t quite believe what they are having to give him. Most recently he received a package worth more than A$60 million for backing the media reform bill.

Earlier, as part of a deal to pass company tax cuts, he secured a one-off payment to help with high power prices for people on aged and disability pensions or the parenting payment, costing the budget some $260 million.

Leading his SA-BEST party for the March election, Xenophon wants to extend that power to state politics – where he started, elected in 1997 on an anti-pokies crusade.

“With SA-BEST and NXT holding the balance of power in both the state parliament and the federal Senate, we will work together as a united team under my leadership to drive real change to improve the lives of all South Australians,” he said in his statement announcing his resignation, which will wait until after the High Court decision.

All the signs are SA-BEST will do well, harvesting people’s discontent with the major parties. Xenophon himself will contest the marginal Liberal seat of Hartley, where he lives.

His personal entry into the SA contest will give much more heft to SA-BEST – already with a strong vote in private polls – and strike more alarm into both Liberals and Labor. He is keeping his counsel on which side he would support in a hung parliament, so maximising uncertainty. The party will not issue preferences.

ABC analyst Antony Green predicts Xenophon’s party “will poll well enough to finish first or second in enough seats to make it very unlikely either side can win a majority in its own right”.

There will be a dozen electorates in which SA-BEST will be very competitive, according to Green. He says Xenophon’s entry will be better for the Labor Party than the Liberal Party, because “he’ll be more of a challenge in Liberal seats”.

Xenophon’s departure leaves his Canberra team with considerable uncertainty. While its numbers are preserved, it has no experienced person to step into Xenophon’s shoes.

And from what Xenophon said on Friday, he wants to keep his own feet in those shoes a good deal. “I will still be heavily involved in federal decisions,” he said. “I won’t be micromanaging but I will have a good idea of what is going on and I will be part of key decisions, particularly insofar as they affect South Australia.”

That might sound all right in theory. In practice it would be complicated, especially when there is complex legislation and difficult negotiations.

Even over the last year, there have been a few suggestions of differences between Xenophon and members of his team. The more time passes, the greater the chance of Xenophon losing touch with the federal nitty-gritty and the federal team resenting input from afar.

The leadership within parliament would have to go to one of the two other current senators: Stirling Griff (most likely) or Skye Kakoschke-Moore.

There is some uncertainty about whether Xenophon would remain overall leader of the party, as well as the state leader. His comment, quoted above, referring to “under my leadership”, suggests he would. And Griff says “we still consider him the leader of the federal party” as well as of the state party.

Immediate future arrangements will be discussed when the NXT meets on parliament’s resumption the week after next.

The ConversationThe longer-term questions will remain. Among them will be the name of the party for the next federal election, and whether Xenophon – even if he stays overlord of the federal party – can retain as much of a national profile when his focus becomes South Australian politics.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Nigeria: Boko Haram Demand Resignation of President


The link below is to an article reporting on the latest persecution news out of Nigeria, where the president has been told to resign by Boko Haram terrorists.

For more visit:
http://www.worthynews.com/11679-muslim-group-demands-christian-prez-convert-or-resign

Plinky Prompt: Name One of the Best Decisions You’ve Ever Made


resignation

One of the best decisions I have made, if not the best, was to resign from my job after 20 years of work there. I moved on and now work in a lesser paid job – however, my health has improved across the board as a result and I am far happier now than I was back then. I no longer work the excessive hours and have more time to do my own thing. What’s not to like.

Powered by Plinky

Christian Woman in Pakistan Abused, Forced to Resign


Sanitation worker on verge of receiving benefits; in another village, church builders attacked.

SARGODHA, Pakistan, June 10 (CDN) — A Christian woman here said she has been falsely accused of theft, beaten, threatened with rape and forced to resign her job in a bid to keep her from obtaining full benefits as a regular government employee.

Razia Bibi, a 38-year-old sanitation worker known as Rajji of village No. 47-NB (Northern Branch), Sargodha, was due to obtain regular status as a government employee at Aysha Girls’ Hostel at the University of Sargodha at the end of May. On May 7, however, Muslim office worker Safia Bibi accused her of stealing 10,000 rupees (US$120) from her cubicle – and when Muslim hostel warden Noshaba Bibi learned of it, she called female police officers and ordered them to beat her until
she confessed, Rajji said.

“Lady police constables subjected me to inhumane thrashing with bamboo sticks and kept saying that I must confess or they would not spare me,” she said, adding that she was beaten for four hours in one of the hostel rooms. “I said that, being a Christian from childhood, I had learned not to steal, therefore I told them the truth, but it seemed they were bent on making me confess a crime I had not committed.”

Her comment about being a Christian and therefore not having stolen anything seemed to especially enrage Safia Bibi and Noshaba Bibi, she said.

“Hostel officials turned violent, and they called Haaser Khan, the chief security officer of the university, accompanied by two junior security guards, and ordered them to take me into a cubicle and take off my clothes and rape me,” she said. “I raised a cry for help, but there was no one to help me.”

Her husband, Nayyer Aftab, told Compass that someone informed him that his wife was in serious trouble at her workplace. Rushing to the girls’ hostel, he said, he found the security guards dragging his wife on the ground as she screamed for help. When Aftab asked why they were treating her this way, Khan charged him with his baton and left him injured on the ground, Aftab said. The chief security officer took Rajji inside.

“Both hostel officers, Noshaba and Safia, told me that Rajji had stolen 10,000 rupees, and that because she didn’t confess her crime the security guards were going to teach her a lesson,” Aftab said.

Aftab said he knew that his wife would not confess to theft even to spare herself from rape, and he pleaded with the two accusers to stop the security guards, promising that he would pay them the amount of the allegedly stolen money.

“At this both Safia and Noshaba ordered to bring Rajji out and not rape her,” Aftab told Compass. “They gave me an hour to make payment of the allegedly stolen amount.”

He said he went to friends and relatives to gather up the 10,000 rupees and gave it to Safia Bibi and Noshaba Bibi, but Aftab said they still compelled his wife to resign by forcibly obtaining a thumb print from the illiterate woman on a resignation statement.

Rajji said she had been happily looking forward to obtaining regular employee status.

“In three weeks I was going to become a regular employee as a sanitation worker at the university, but as I am a Christian, the Muslim hostel officers Safia and Noshaba wanted a Muslim regular employee after their hearts instead of me,” she told Compass.   

Noshaba Bibi initially refused to comment on the allegation that she falsely accused the Christian woman of theft in order to provide a job to someone of her choice. After repeated questioning by Compass, however, she became exasperated and used coarse language, yelling, “Yes, I have done it, do whatever you want!”

The Christian couple in the village in Punjab Province has an 8-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 9 and 5.

 

Christians Beaten, Jailed

In a village in southern Punjab Province, Muslim extremists on Saturday (June 5) attacked Christians trying to construct a church building, and then got police to file charges against them for defending themselves, according to the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA).

A club-wielding Muslim mob led by Muhammad Nazir Ahmed beat Christians who were laying the foundation for the church building in village No. 184/9-L, in Cheechawatni of Sahiwal district, seriously injuring several of them, said Javed Akber Gill, APMA district coordinator in Sahiwal.

Ahmed later enlisted Inspector Allah Ditta, station house officer at the Dera Rahim police station, to file charges against four Christians – Noreen Mumtaz, who is pregnant, and her husband Mumtaz Inayat, Aftab Inayat and Kashif Masih, Christian sources said. All four were charged with critically injuring others and attempting to kill or threaten to kill, they said.

Inspector Ditta refused to respond to repeated requests by Compass for comment on allegations that he colluded with the Muslim extremists to falsely accuse the Christian victims of the attack.

The accused Christians pleaded with police that they were innocent, to no avail. Gill said that he was doing his best to resolve the issue peacefully in an attempt to avert the kind of violence that hit the Christian communities of Gojra and Korian in July and August of 2009 and Shanti Nagar in 1997.

The Rev. John Rizwani of Cheechawatni city said the government had allotted a small piece of land to the Christians for the building and that they had permission to build. There are only 25 Christians’ homes amid the approximately 500 Muslim homes in the village.

Ferhan Mazher, chairman of Rays of Development Organization, Azher Kalim, general secretary the Christians Lawyers Foundation and Khalid Gill, head of APMA in Punjab, condemned the attack.

“Attacks on worship places usurp basic human rights and constitute a conspiracy to belittle the name of Pakistan worldwide,” Mazher said.

Report from Compass Direct News