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Archive for the ‘Parliament’ Category

I just got off a plane, waiting for my connecting flight, and decided to check the news.

What do you know, apparently a special caucus meeting has been called where it’s expected Nathan Rees will be challenged for the leadership by either Frank Sartor or Kristina Keneally.

It’s hard for me to keep updated on the situation from the airport, and when the meeting is on I’ll be on a plane, so consider this an open thread for information and discussion on the challenge.

A quick comment on the issue – If Labor knifes Rees, it’s probably the stupidest thing they could do and will consign them to defeat at the next election.

Update:
The Right need to get their act together if they want to knock off Rees. At the moment, there’s still no consensus candidate with Keneally saying she won’t challenge Rees but if there’s a spill she will contest, and Sartor expected to challenge.

If they remain divided it’s possible that Rees can hold on, given he has pretty much all the Left votes and a handful of those on the Right.

Some Left MP’s have apparently stated that if Keneally becomes Premier they will defect from the party and sit on the crossbenches.

Update: Unconfirmed suggestions that Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt is being sounded out by MP’s and the party office.

Update: NSW Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell has called for a no confidence vote in the State Government. Silly move in my opinion. He should just shut up, sit down and watch the fireworks.

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A Nielsen poll out this week has the Coalition leading Labor 55-45 on a two party preferred basis with primaries running at 43 per cent, 31 per cent for Labor and 13 per cent for The Greens.

The Labor primary has not moved since the State ALP conference were Labor figures, including the Premier, were expecting the dumping of the unpopular Joe Tripodi and the populist reaction to the issue of political donations to provide a boost. Indeed, some were claiming that if there wasn’t a bounce it would be the end of Rees’ leadership.

Further polling revealed that the Coalition is now leading Labor as better handlers of every policy area besides education, which is evenly split at 44 per cent.

This is a terrible result for Labor and shows they are far behind in their traditionally strong areas.

Unsurprisingly, the polls have renewed leadership speculation. The problem is still the Right’s inability to choose a replacement.

Today there were rumours of a John Della Bosca-Eric Roozendaal ticket challenging at the final caucus meeting of the year tomorrow. Not a very surprising combo but still just a rumour.

You would think that Labor would be happy enough with the federal Liberal Party exploding without having to create their own excitement. On the other hand, maybe they will use the cover of tomorrow’s Liberal leadership spill to do their own knifing?

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The NSW Greens have just completed their preselection for the upper house in the next State election.

The preselection was conducted by a ballot of all members and counted this weekend.

Prominent environmentalist and executive director of the Nature Conservation Council Cate Faehrmann was elected to fill the vacancy in the Legislative Council created by Lee Rhiannon who is running for the Senate.

The 2011 ticket will be headed up by industrial relations lawyer and Woollahra councillor David Shoebridge. Second is Byron Mayor Jan Barham. Orange councillor Jeremy Buckingham is in third spot.

NTEU organiser and Rockdale councillor Lesa de Leau and City of Sydney councillor Chris Harris are in the fourth and fifth positions.

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The big news out of last weekend’s State ALP conference is that Premier Nathan Rees has been given the power to appoint his own cabinet, no longer having factions force candidates upon him.

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There’s a bunch of new legislation up for debate in NSW Parliament over the next few weeks and some pretty major new policy initiatives from the Government. Rather than trying to give an update on everything that’s happening I’ll pick a few of the ones I think are the most important or interesting and give an overview.

Changes to voter enrolment

This week the Government introduced legislation to change the way new voters enrol.

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Independent NSW MLC Gordon Moyes has just announced he is joining Family First, becoming their first MP in NSW.

Moyes was elected to the Legislative Council in 2002 as a member of the Christian Democratic Party. He served in that capacity until 2009 when he was expelled from the party after a number of personal and policy clashes with the CDP and its leader, Fred Nile.

Immediately after he was expelled Moyes entered discussions with Family First about becoming a member and leading their upper house ticket in the 2011 election.

It’s an interesting, if not unexpected, move by Moyes. Whilst undoubtedly a social conservative he has sided with The Greens on a number of occasions and voted against the Government to subpoena documents in a range of areas.

Moyes holds a key balance of power position in the NSW upper house and his vote is often required to pass legislation. His modus operandi in Parliament seems to be to approach each issue on its merits and compare it to his personal beliefs and values. It will be interesting to see whether this changes now that he is once again a member of a political party. There are a few stark policy differences between Moyes and the Family First Senator Steve Fielding – most notably on the issue of climate change. Where Fielding is a climate sceptic/denialist, Moyes is a firm believer who has often advocated for stronger action on protecting the environment.

It’s difficult to predict the results of the next election but it is unlikely that Moyes would be re-elected. The Christian Right vote in the last few elections has only been high enough to elect one MLC – last election the CDP received 2.4%. It is possible that disgruntlement with both major parties could see a boost in the Christian vote, but I think this split will offset any positives to be gained from a small vote boost.

Update:
It looks like we have another schism between Family First Senator Steve Fielding and Gordon Moyes, this time on the issue of asylum seekers.

This week Steve Fielding said of the 78 asylum seekers on board the Oceanic Viking:

This is our boat, it’s been hijacked by the refugees, and the Rudd government hasn’t got a clue what to do. Those people trying to jump the queue should go to the back of the queue.

Today, Gordon Moyes has announced a completely different position:

Kevin Rudd could solve the problem of the 78 Sri Lankan boat people on the Australian vessel in Indonesian waters by ordering today that the ship bring them to Australia. Process them in Perth or Port Hedland, then bring them to Sydney.

He also goes on to describe his experiences in resettling illegal refugees in the 1960’s.

This is a stark policy difference and mirrors the difference between the two parliamentarians on climate change. Only one day into the “leadership” of the NSW branch of Family First and Moyes is already picking fights with the Federal leader. Looks like it might be a habit…

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Today in parliament The Greens moved a motion to censure the Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, for misleading Parliament over comments she made about the implementation of school league tables being tied to Federal funding.

During the debate over the league tables legislation Verity Firth refused to back down, stating:

We will not put New South Wales at the risk of losing $4.8 billion dollars in Commonwealth investment.

However her representative in the upper house, Penny Sharpe, answered a question by Fred Nile on whether the move to ban league tables would have any impact on the Commonwealth agreement or in anyway threaten Commonwealth funding by saying:

The answer to both questions is no.

Some might consider the move to censure Verity Firth trivial as Labor does not have a majority in the upper house. However, in the context of ongoing scandal the motion is quite embarrassing for the Government, but more importantly, analysing the breakdown of the vote shows the difficulty it faces in the Legislative Council.

The vote passed 18-17 with The Greens, Coalition and Gordon Moyes voting for the motion and Labor and Fred Nile voting against it. The Shooters abstained.

This vote perfectly encapsulates the political dynamic in the upper house. The Coalition will jump on every opportunity to make the Government look bad and Gordon Moyes seems to have developed some kind of environmental and social conscience, for example, siding with The Greens to call on the Minister for State Development to:

(a) respect the right of local communities to peacefully express their opposition to the Repco
Rally, and

(b) actively monitor the environmental and social impacts of the Repco Rally.

On these kinds of motions Fred Nile tends to support the Government as a small thanks for his increase in pay due to his appointment to the useless position of Assistant Deputy President. The Shooters used to be a reliable source of support for Labor but, as discussed previously, they seem desperate to prove they can’t be taken for granted. While showing their bargaining power they aren’t going so far as to actually support censuring the Government, perhaps suggesting a thawing in relations leading to a potential compromise.

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