Malcolm Turnbull has endured an uncomfortable first day back in parliament after Cory Bernardi confirmed he was quitting the Liberal party
That’s it for day 1 and what a day 1 it has been.
The House is voting on independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s earlier motion regarding the Centrelink debt notices. The motion fails 73-71.
I just want to double back on the Senate numbers now, more for myself as much as anyone else.
With the Cory defection, the numbers are:
The weight of office.
The Liberal MP Warren Entsch says it is unfair to take the gold pass for people in the past who have served seven terms (which was the requirement).
By all means constrain it, I have no problem ... I have no issue with cutting it off from 2014.
The new paradigm.
The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, says she spoke on the phone this morning to the new US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
She told the Coalition party room that her conversation with Tillerson “could not have been warmer” and there was “no doubt” the Turnbull government and the Trump administration would work together.
It is clear that the United States will remain deeply engaged in our region.
It shows that we can manage relationships between both of those countries in a calm, considered and mature way. Every nation puts it’s interests first, and it’s in Australia’s interest to provide peace, stability and security.
Question time is over.
Speaker Tony Smith announces criminal charges will be laid as a result of the demonstration from last year which saw question time disrupted after protestors superglued their hands to the benches.
Government question to Peter Dutton: Will the minister update the house on steps the government is taking to ensure foreign workers are a supplementary to and not a substitute for Australian workers? How does this compare with other approaches?
Dutton goes to the number of visas for 457 issued under Bill Shorten as minister.
Shorten to Turnbull: Today’s print media includes comments from a large number of members of the prime minister’s own government airing grievances about the workings of the Liberal government including in the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Courier Mail and the Australian all have examples of this. When thousands of people are losing their jobs at Toyota and Holden, why are members of the government only talking about themselves?
It is not so long ago that ... the leader of the opposition spoke at the Press Club, the day before I did, and he said he would be focused on people rather than politics. What we see is one cheap shot after another.
The foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, gets a government question: Will the minister update the House on how the government is promoting Australia’s national interests in strengthening our bilateral relationships? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that would threaten our national interest?
She goes to Chinese free-trade agreement and the increase in exports from the citrus industry.
Labor’s Tanya Plibersek asks Turnbull: Does the prime minister agree with the member for Warringah that “the first duty of the leader is to keep the party together”. How is that going?
Speaker Tony Smith rules the question out of order.
There is a Dixer CFMEU question to the defence industry minister, Christopher Pyne.
The revelations of the year of funding up to the 2016 federal election, the union movement spent an incredible $26.5m of other people’s money campaigning against the Turnbull government.
Labor’s Linda Burney to Turnbull: Anne Foley is a 67-year-old pensioner who received a Centrelink debt recovery notice for around $36,000. As a result Centrelink cut off Mrs Foley’s pension, causing her considerable stress and anxiety. Two weeks later, Centrelink admitted they got it completely wrong and reinstated her pension. Are pensioners like Anne suffering because the only thing the prime minister is focused on is trying to fix his broken government?
Before flicking the question to Alan Tudge, Turnbull suggests her details should be passed on to the government to resolve. Then he says:
The focus has been to ensure that where anomalies are detected consistent with practices put in place long ago under the Labor government, people are entitled to or are able to correct the record. If they do owe money to Centrelink, it should be recovered.
The energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, gets a government question on affordable energy and Labor renewables policy.
Labor to Turnbull: Tasmania’s Liberal premier, Will Hodgman, has said the flawed Centrelink data-matching system needs to be fixed and Liberal senator Eric Abetz has said Centrelink’s robo-debt mess has “let down the Australian people”. Is the mess inside the Liberal government the reason the prime minister has ignored the mess his government has made of Centrelink?
The human services minister, Alan Tudge, outlines the system:
We want to be fair to the taxpayer. That is exactly why we have this system in the first place. What we do is that we look at the self-report income provided to Centrelink and we compare that to the data provided to the Australian Taxation Office.
If there is a discrepancy between the two, then a person is asked if they can explain that discrepancy. Sometimes they can but, if they are unable to do so, then a debt may be issued. This practice has been in place by the way since the Labor party introduced it in 1990 in a data matching act. Then automation came into place in 2011 under none other than the leader of the opposition, the deputy leader of the opposition.
A Dixer to Barnaby Joyce on live export but strangely segues into renewable energy policy.
NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie to Turnbull: Over Christmas, thousands of my constituents enjoyed several days without power, phones or internet after storms damaged electricity infrastructure. In the middle of the fire season, in one of the highest bushfire risk areas in Australia, we had few to no means of communication as mobile base station batteries lasted only four hours and, in some areas, landlines failed. I understand the downgraded NBN roll-out will mean landlines won’t work in power outages at all. It is outrageous in 2017 telecommunications infrastructure would leave us so vulnerable. Please advise how your government will address this and safeguard telecommunications access, particularly in isolated fire risk areas such as my electorate of Mayo.
He says it is Labor’s fault. He goes to renewable energy policies in the Labor governed South Australia.
In the socialist paradise, where the honourable member lives, is the consequence of the failure to invest. Resilience in telecommunications systems is vitally important. If the honourable member is concerned about the lights going out in Mayo, that is the consequence of Labor’s reckless approach to energy.
Labor to Turnbull: The prime minister’s former energy adviser Danny Price said that the prime minister’s refusal to even consider an emissions intensity scheme “shows a lack of spine”. By doing this it means they are the party of increasing electricity prices and reduced energy security. Will the prime minister confirm that his lack of spine and his failure to stand up to Senator Bernardi has made the Liberal government the party of increasing electricity prices and reduced energy security?
After an introduction involving squirrels, Turnbull reasserts that the Coalition stands for jobs and reliable affordable energy.
There is a government question to the treasurer, Scott Morrison, about the need to cut company tax cuts.
I should also say his shadow, Chris Bowen, was chucked out in the previous answer for taking a frivolous point of order.
Labor’s Mark Butler to Turnbull: Energy markets commission modelling shows emissions intensity scheme would save consumers $15bn on their power bills. Within hours of Senator Bernardi objecting to the government even considering such a scheme, the prime minister caved in and ruled it out in December. Given that Senator Bernardi has now quit the Liberal party, will the prime minister reconsider an emissions intensity scheme or are there still too many government MPs who hold the same views as Senator Bernardi to prevent the prime minister from taking the right action?
Turnbull doesn’t answer on the savings to be had on an emissions intensity scheme.
The reality is very simply this – that the Labor party has pursued renewable energy as an end in itself, without having regard for the need for base load power, without having regard to the fact that all of their assumptions about gas prices have been overtaken by both a massive rise in the cost of gas and its constrained availability and without making any plans for the storage that is needed to make renewables viable.
Malcolm Turnbull takes a government question on energy so that he can talk about Labor governments and their renewable energy policies.
Shorten to Turnbull: It is a matter of record that 34,000 full-time jobs have been lost in the last year. Underemployment is close to a record high. Wages are growing at the slowest rate on record. When 34,000 full-time jobs have been lost in the last year alone, why are you only worried about your own job and not theirs?
It gives me the opportunity to remind the honourable member that there were 100,000 new jobs in manufacturing. It has been a long time since we have seen growth in manufacturing. The reason we are seeing it is because of the big export markets we have opened up and he would like to close in his new protectionist guise.
The first Dorothy Dixer is about how the government is helping hardworking Australians get ahead.
Turnbull’s answer relates to energy prices and Labor’s determination to revert to protectionism.
Shorten to Turnbull: Australians have been shocked and sickened by the crimes that have been revealed through the royal commission into child sexual abuse, including yesterday’s tragic and indefensible revelations. Will the prime minister join with me in reassuring the people of Australia that we will do everything in our power together to make sure that this never happens again and that survivors get the justice and redress they deserve?
Turnbull says the scheme will be established next year and will provide monetary payments, psychological counselling and a direct personal response to acknowledge the wrong doing inflicted upon survivors.
Without enough hands, I have not given a full account of the pledge by the government not to force land sales of farmers around the defence facility at Shoalwater Bay. But Colin Bettles has the story here.
Meanwhile, in the US, AAP reports:
US senators have gone into damage control for the American-Australian alliance following president Donald Trump’s acrimonious phone call with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Republican senators Lamar Alexander and Marco Rubio, along with Democrats Ben Cardin and Ed Markey, have introduced a bipartisan resolution “reaffirming a strong commitment to the United States-Australian alliance relationship”.
It describes the alliance as a “sacred vow of friendship and trust” and Australia as a faithful and reliable partner.
Senator Alexander told the Senate on Monday night he did not know what happened during the infamous phone call between the leaders.
But he did know the people of the US did not have better friends than the people of Australia.
Even though they lived down under on the other side of the world, for a century Australians have stood with us every time we were at war. And we have stood with them.
Independent Andrew Wilkie is giving a statement on the 50th anniversary of the Black Tuesday bushfires in Tasmania.
Going the full Cory. His resignation speech.
Check out Katharine Murphy’s wrap of the Cory Bernardi resignation.
Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are giving a statement on indulgence on the death of the writer and broadcaster Anne Deveson.
Labor has made a submission to the high court in the Bob Day case.
Jeremy Kirk, representing the former South Australian Labor senator Anne McEwen, has told the high court that if Bob Day was ineligible to be elected to the Senate, the next Family First candidate should not be automatically elected.
Everyone in the chamber stands to remember the victims who died in the Bourke Street mall.
Shorten talks about the victims, individually and then praised the people who helped.
In a world where we have seen too much iPhone footage of violence on the street, too many helicopter angles of attacks on the innocent, it would have been entirely understandable of Melburnians to flee the scene in that moment of fear. But the footage only shows our people, our fellow Australians running towards the danger. Administering CPR, comforting the wounded. Even as there were still shots ringing out. They did what I think we hope we all would when confronted by the same set of circumstances, but perhaps we wonder in our hearts if we would be as brave as these fellow Australians.
Bill Shorten speaks on Bourke Street.
My home town was packed with tourists, shoppers, workers. And then that day was shattered. I have lived in Melbourne nearly all of my 49 years. The Bourke Street mall is a place that every Melburnian, every Victorian and probably every Australian knows. We have caught the 86 and the 96 tram along the mall. Many of us can picture the mall with our eyes closed. I visited the Myer Christmas windows as a child and I have taken my own children to see them. I think perhaps that is why this tragedy has affected us so strongly. Unlike some of the tragedies and disasters which confront the human condition, this one wasn’t somewhere else. It was one which could have affected any of us, as we have all been there.
Turnbull tells the parliament of the Bourke Street Mall incident:
The Victorian government is examining and reviewing the state’s bail laws and processes, as they should.
Last year, following the truck attack in Nice, terrorist attack, I tasked the counter-terrorism coordinator to review the challenge of protecting places of mass gathering. While the review found that we had largely robust protections in place, it was also clear that more work was required.
The high court, sitting as the court of disputed returns, is holding a hearing into former Family First senator Bob Day’s eligibility to stand at the last election.
In Tuesday morning’s hearing the solicitor general, Stephen Donaghue, argued that Day was ineligible because he had an “indirect interest” in an agreement with the commonwealth, namely the lease of his electorate office housed at 77 Fullarton Road.
The trust will simply hold the property and collect rent on a regular basis. That rent will then pass back to the Day family trust so there will be no profit nor loss in the new trust.”
Statement: Gina Rinehart says she's not funding Cory Bernardi's new party @PoliticsFairfax #auspol pic.twitter.com/O0OwsS8FBm
Bill Shorten begins with a short speech on the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse. He underlines the need for a proper national redress scheme.
Malcolm Turnbull begins remembering the victims of the recent Bourke Street mall incident. He thanks the emergency services and all those who assisted.
Australian Conservatives unite.
Before the resignation, a quiet word over the table ...
In the party room, at the news of the death of the gold pass, I’m told one MP joked “we will all have to get corporate sponsorship”.
Special minister of state Scott Ryan is speaking to the government’s announcement:
IPEA will have the core functions of auditing and reporting of parliamentarians’ work expenses. It will also have a specific focus on the administration and compliance of travel and related claims from parliamentarians, including ministers, and their staff. This will ensure that taxpayer’ funds are spent appropriately and in compliance with the rules. IPEA will operate as an independent statutory body.
We have the opportunity to show Australians that the current generation of parliamentarians will subject themselves to higher standards than ever before.
Q: Don’t you need to appeal to people outside of your narrow far right constituency?
There is a pejorative sort of characterisation. This is the difficulty that we have. We have a case where the political class is held in very low regard because of what they say, what they failed to do and what they do do. We don’t need that to be compounded in elements of the media.
Bernardi says he cannot identify the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
He goes to the US election and urges people to look past Trump’s personality.
I don’t want you to confuse the personalities of the individuals involved with the policy outcomes. What the Republican candidate took to their election was the fact that they wanted to cut taxes, deregulate the economy, make sure their borders were secure and that their trade policy would be acting in their interests, not in anyone else’s. They are mainstream concerns and added to why they are so demonised by those who chose not to get past his personality and look at what he was putting forward.
Bernardi has been criticised for not telling his party room directly. He says he did not go to the party room meeting because he was no longer a member.
Bernardi won’t criticise his conservative colleagues. He won’t answer a question about whether he would rule out rejoining the Liberal party.
Bernardi on how he will be different to One Nation:
I have the utmost respect for her, she is tenacious. This is about Australian Conservatives though. This is about applying principles which will be enshrined in all our documents and asking people if you want to come and join us because we will take a principled approach to all policy, rather than just chasing any manner of headline, assess policy on what is in the best term for the national interests. That is my goal.
Bernardi says he had no intention of breaking away from the Liberal party at the time of the election.
Cory Bernardi says he has no idea whether Gina Rinehart will fund his campaign.
He avoids a question over whether he will apologise to Liberal voters.
Every single Liberal party voter and those party members knew exactly what they were supporting. My principles have not changed. My advocacy has not changed.
Bernardi hopes to run candidates at the next election. He does not outline his funding plan but says he received 700 donations at the last election.
On dealing with the government:
My heart, my ethos is, is steeped in the Liberal party. It is about lower taxes and living relationship your means and better outcomes for families, fostering enterprise, restricting the scope of government and building society. It is how we build the base. Read into that what they will. If they put forward good policy, I will support them. If they err, I will tell them and try to amend it.
In the last seven months, you said two answers ago, things haven’t gone the way you would like them to go but you are only identifying one policy that has precipitated you doing this today.
I was asked for a policy but the voters have rendered their verdict. After the last election I said there was a problem. We need to fix it. When the pollster says the base doesn’t matter, when the election campaign is lacklustre and we hang on by one seat and trumpeted it as a great victory and no one is investigating it, we have got a problem. That problem is getting worse. It is getting worse. The minor parties are growing exponentially because people have lost faith in the major parties. I want to give them a viable, a credible and a principled alternative in which they can vote.
Bernardi says it is not about leadership though the party is still being affected by the change of leadership. Asked which policies he disagrees with, he cites the examination of an emissions trading scheme – one of the options being considered by the chief scientist – for the review of energy policy. (Frydenberg subsequently ruled it out.)
Cory Bernardi is answering questions outside the chamber now and answers the key question about why he did not resign before the election.
I have reflected Liberal values since I joined the Liberal party over 30 years ago. My sincere hopes the last election would deliver a positive outcome for the people of Australia. But what we saw was a million votes left the conservative party and went to alternatives. Some of them represent the national interests better than others. My ambition was always to bring those people back into the tent. I regret over the last seven months or so we see more of them leaving the tent. That says to me there is a serious problem. Now, I want to give them a principled, credible and stable alternative in which they can invest their vote in the Senate.
Senator Derryn Hinch:
To hear him talk about principle when he has stood as a Liberal candidate and been elected as such is a joke. Three-hundred thousand people in South Australia, I feel sorry for them, they voted for a Liberal senator for six years. Below the line senator Bernardi got something like 2,000 votes and yet he stands up here and talks about principle.
Richard Di Natale:
Here is a very clear message in this for prime minister Turnbull – you don’t negotiate with extremists. You do not negotiate with extremists because it doesn’t matter how much you give them, they always want more.
It is never enough. It is never enough! You look at the capitulation that we have seen from this prime minister on issues that he believed were issues of substance.
Scenes from a resignation, Cory Bernadi in the #senate @gabriellechan @GuardianAus #politicslive pic.twitter.com/G3H0ROHWDG
Greens leader Richard Di Natale:
In Senator Bernardi we have 6.5ft of ego but not an inch of integrity. Not an inch. I would have expected that speech if he had given it a year ago before he stood as a Liberal party candidate and waited to get himself a six-year term in the Senate. What a hypocrite!
So Mr President, this is a sad day for the Liberal party. It is a sad day when someone leaves the family. Senator Bernardi will have to account to the Australian people and to his own conscience about how he can continue to sit in this parliament, having been elected as a Liberal, but that is a matter for him.
George Brandis said while the government would deal with Bernardi courteously, the government would expect him to support the government’s policies, which he stood for at the recent election.
He says the Coalition would deal with him courteously, unlike the Labor party did with former defector Mal Colston.
We won’t be abusing him in the way, for example, we saw former [Labor] senator Robert Ray conduct the most vindictive personal campaign against Senator Mal Colston that any of us can remember.
The attorney general and Senate leader, George Brandis, says Cory Bernardi has done the wrong thing.
We believe that he has done the wrong thing. Because only seven months ago Senator Bernardi was elected by the people of SA to serve in the Senate as a Liberal senator.
There is a variety of views in theLiberal party, as there is a variety of views in the Labor party, but only seven months ago Senator Bernardi was happy to stand before the people of SA – seven months ago Senator Bernardi was happy to stand before the people of SA to say he sought their endorsement to serve for a 6-year term as a Liberal senator.
Penny Wong replies:
What we have seen today Mr President is extraordinary. Extraordinary. A government senator leaving on ideological grounds and on grounds of conviction and philosophy from the government benches. What we have seen today really tells us something very important about this government because it is emblematic of a government that is bitterly divided, a government that is coming apart at the seams, a government so driven with internal division it is more focused on their own issues than on matters that matter most to Australians.
I don’t think Tony Abbott was much of a prime minister but he was a hell lot better at being Tony Abbott than Malcolm Turnbull will ever be.
Bernardi says his party will focus on stronger families, freedom of speech and smaller government while rebuilding confidence in civil society. He suggests the speaker should consider new seating arrangements.
For many years, I have warned of the consequences of ignoring the clear signs. I have spoken of the need to restore faith in our political system and to put principle back into politics. I regret that too often these warnings have been ignored by those who perhaps needed to hear them most. It really is time for a better way. For a conservative way. The enduring beauty of the conservative tradition is it looks to the past, to all that is good and great, to inform the future. It is a rich paradox where the established equips us for the new. So today I begin something new, built on enduring values and principles that have served our nation so well for so long. It is a political movement of Australian Conservatives.
When, as a younger man, I joined the ship of state, I was in awe of its traditions and the great captains that it guided us on our way. But now, as the seas through which we sail become ever more challenging, the respect for the values and principles that have served us well seem to have been set aside for expedient, self-serving, short-term ends. That approach has not served our nation well. There are few in this place or anywhere that can claim the respect for politicians and politics is stronger today than it was 10 years ago. In short, the body politic is failing the people of Australia. It is clear that we need to find a better way.
Bernardi says he is resigning because he believes it is the right thing to do.
Penny Wong informs the Senate chamber that senator Sam Dastyari has been appointed deputy whip of the Labor party. So begins the resurrection.
Culleton is sitting alone in the public gallery
President Parry is reading through the history of his actions relating to Culleton and Culleton’s attempts via letters and legal action to remain in the senate.
President Stephen Parry speaks to the vacancy caused by the former One Nation senator Rodney Culleton, pointing out the high court ruling that found he was not eligible to sit in the Senate.
Bernardi will give a statement and then Penny Wong is expected to seek leave to speak to it.
Senate is sitting now as the president reads the Lord’s prayer and pays respect to Indigenous elders past and present.
The human services minister, Alan Tudge, spoke to the motion, saying the system is designed to ensure that taxpayers only support those in need.
In the lower house, independent Andrew Wilkie is trying to suspend standing orders on the Centrelink debt recovery system. The motion:
(1) acknowledges that Centrelink has, since late 2016, been sending out numerous incorrect notices relating to debt recovery – by its estimation, at least 4,000 of the 20,000 debt notices sent each week are incorrect;
(2) notes the severe financial and emotional toll that the debt recovery system has had on thousands of people, including some of the most vulnerable, with some going so far as to talk of suicide;
I will be seeking leave to make a statement to the Senate when it commences at 12.30pm today.
Following my statement to Senate will hold press conference in Mural Hall @ 1pm
#BREAKING: @TurnbullMalcolm has axed the lifetime gold travel pass for former MPS.
Tony Abbott has taken to Facebook to decry the lack of effort being made to keep Cory in the tent.
Cory Bernardi has made an important contribution to our public life and I deeply regret his decision to leave the Liberal Party.
While Cory and I have sometimes disagreed I’m disappointed that more effort has not been made to keep our party united.
Given new rightwing political parties are the topic of the day, I thought it was worth casting our minds back to the pulped book of John Hyde Page, called The Education of a Young Liberal. While the book was pulped in relation to another matter, the author gives an interesting account of a conversation with Malcolm Turnbull regarding the possibility of forming a centre-right party. Hyde Page was working for the former Liberal Wentworth MP Peter King at the time. (Turnbull knocked off King in a torrid preselection.) Hyde Page recalls the conversation was about the hollowing out of the Liberal party into what the PM had then called a “doughnut” – that is, Young Liberals at one end, pensioners at the other and nothing in between.
Hyde Page went on to interpret Turnbull’s words.
Indeed if something was not done, Turnbull predicted, the Liberal party would very soon be supplanted by some new centre-right party. It wouldn’t be hard at all, thanks to the internet – he took a moment or two to praise the marvel that is the internet – a couple of wealthy financiers, a few emails, an online recruitment campaign and voila, a new conservative force in Australian politics and no more Liberal party.
John Hyde Page’s book The Education of a Young Liberal is a very hard book to hate. And as a proud member of the Liberal party’s WA division I tried very hard. Indeed, it is probably a mistake to have a member of any political party review such a book because, of the several reviews published to date, each goes immediately to its accuracy and political meaning ...
Whether accurate or not, the several pages devoted to Peter King and Malcolm Turnbull leave the reader with a sense that he has been privy to some deep insight into complex and textured human beings.
The Parliamentary Budget Office has published an update on the budgetary impact of legislation still stuck in the Senate.
Labor will try to capitalise on it today, which the government won’t appreciate.
Katharine Murphy has done a little bit of decoding of the various barrows being pushed around the Bernardi defection.
But folks intent on running a line of defence that says how dare Bernardi offend the custom and practice of the political establishment in Canberra, and think that is somehow a resonant argument, must have missed the past two years in politics.
If somehow you missed the past two years in politics, the bit where Brexit happened and Trump got elected and One Nation returned to the political scene, then you have only to read Monday’s Newspoll to know that Australian voters are parting ways with the major parties and are actively looking for alternatives.
Let’s get real. Looking at Turnbull, it really is hard to see how he could get more conservative than he currently is without also triggering a full-scale rebellion by party moderates.
So let’s call this one out. The hard right of the Liberal party just don’t like Turnbull, so it doesn’t matter what he does, it won’t be enough.
The minister for investment opportunities. The former minister of health.
Then and Now- fellow SA sen. David Fawcett takes Cory's seat in the party room this morn @gabriellechan @GuardianAus pic.twitter.com/AjojsbPGKI
We will hear from the party rooms shortly but in between times, it is worth remembering great Cory quotes relating to the prospect of a separate party.
In 2014, when the former SA MP Martin Hamilton-Smith defected, Bernardi was scathing.
We’ve supported him over successive elections, he was a former leader of the Liberal party, of course we’re disappointed and the people of Waite should be disappointed too because you can’t just jump ship and join the other team and claim it’s the national or public interest because it’s not.
I don’t think there’s an appetite for an alternative party. I think people want to make the Liberals work.
My intention is to make the Liberal party stronger.
The two men fell out publicly at Christmas time as Bernardi was planning his exit from the Liberal party – and Bernardi told confidantes during December he was profoundly irritated that Abbott was using the prospect of his defection as a trigger for a renewed bout of aggression against the current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
Abbott positioned himself in December to make the Bernardi defection a test of leadership for Turnbull, writing at the time Australia did not need a new conservative party, it needed “a credible agenda for the mainstream conservative political movement that already exists”.
Falsehoods in SMH. I don't leak against colleagues. Never have, never will.
Laura Tingle of the Australian Financial Review has written a good column on the Bernardi threat.
Some people may find it vaguely reassuring that, while the western world – well, the whole world really – experiences an existential crisis as it watches the festival of bizarre in the White House, Australian politics can still trundle on, paralysed by a level of puerility that would be almost as hard to make up as Donald Trump.
So Cory Bernardi is about to leave the Liberal party. Yes, he really is apparently going to do it this time.
Former WA Senator Rod Culleton is planning on attending the opening of Parliament today + wants to meet fmr Senate colleagues #auspol
The education minister and Cory Bernardi’s fellow South Australian Liberal, Simon Birmingham, has been interviewed on his home state radio 5AA. He is asked about the 250,000 Liberal voters who voted for Cory at the last election.
Birmingham, in his mild-mannered way, points out that it was actually more like 345,000 and they had plenty of choices. The minister is a key moderate.
I’ll let others undertake the colourful caricatures or descriptions, but you were right – although you slightly shortchanged it – that at the last election the Liberal Senate voted, South Australia grew by more than 5% and more than 345,000 South Australians chose to vote for the Liberal party. They chose the Liberal party ahead of the Labor party, or the Greens, Nick Xenophon or One Nation. They had plenty of choices the left and the right of the Liberal party and those more than 345,000 South Australians chose the Liberal party, electing four Liberal senators and I’m sure that they expected to have four Liberal senators serve out their terms and they will rightly be disappointed.
Paul Karp has gone to the high court to cover the Bob Day case. AAP has previewed the case for us:
The question of how to fill the Senate seat left vacant by former Family First senator Bob Day is set to be argued in the high court.
Lawyers for attorney general George Brandis will argue the South Australian seat should be filled by a special count when the matter comes before the high court, sitting as the court of disputed returns, in Canberra on Tuesday.
We are entering the Matt Hatter zone. Herewith, a visual representation of the Cory Bernardi defection.
@gabriellechan Hi. Following the official returning of the LNP stapler, Mr Bernardi then performed a traditional SA Liberal exit ceremony. pic.twitter.com/xpzTNgbc9f
Malcolm Turnbull reportedly tells the party room that Bernardi did not try to justify staying in his Senate seat after being elected as a Liberal.
PM Turnbull just now in partyroom "I asked him how he could justify remaining in the Senate having been elected ...1/2
...as a Liberal only seven months ago. He could not answer that question" 2/2
Look around the world at the grief and the turmoil that you’ve seen through lax border protection.
We have now gone over 900 days without a successful people-smuggling venture coming toAustralia. That is a remarkable achievement and one on which we can never be complacent.
Malcolm Turnbull says:
The Labor party used to believe that years ago when they were more economically rational. No longer. A wholly owned subsidiary of leftwing trade unions. Bill Shorten is a threat to every household budget, to every business, to every job. Only a few weeks ago, I was in Portland. What does the great enterprise need most of all? It needs markets to sell its aluminium and it needs affordable energy, and the Labor party is the enemy of both. Adopting his new guise as a protectionist, a populist protectionist, leading us down into a dead end of poverty.
The prime minister is speaking to the joint party room right now. He is talking about his very clear roadmap to deliver affordable energy.
It will be an all of the above policy, using all technologies, rationally, objectively, in a business-like manner, to deliver for those hard-working Australian families.
All eyes will be on the Senate chamber at 12.30pm when Cory Bernardi officially jumps ship.
The last time a similar desertion happened was when the Labor senator Mal Colston ratted on the ALP. The inglorious senator, who left the party because he did not get its deputy president’s gig, resigned by fax.
Some of you may have read my piece last week on the barney going on in central Queensland regarding a decision to acquire land for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay military training facility. The expansion is required because of the deal signed last year with Singapore to allow its troops to train for 18 weeks a year with Australian troops in Australia. As an important ally, Singapore is also funding the expansion of the facility. The fight occurred after the defence department wrote to landholders with a threat of acquisition before they knew which properties were required, leaving farmers upset and angry.
Pauline Hanson was making hay while the sun shone. Labor was campaigning there. Shock jocks were getting in on the act.
As reported earlier, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has spoken on ABC’s AM about the “betrayal” of Senator Cory Bernardi in quitting the Liberal party. Here are fuller quotes.
It is a betrayal when somebody leaves a political party. Because … the grassroots members, the people who have handed out how to votes in election after election because they believe in good government, in the cause of the Liberal party … [it’s] certainly a sense of betrayal they would feel when somebody leaves our ranks.
The principal that we have to adhere to here is the enemy of the Liberal party and of good government here in Australia is the Labor party. We can most effectively defeat the Labor party at the next election if we’re united and we stick together as a party”
I take George Christensen at his word. To answer your question, I think there is no chance of others following. I think people … will be angry about any defection, angry about the betrayal of Liberal party values.
If God were polled, would she tick Cory or me?
Stuntman and NXT leader Nick Xenophon, channelling the zeitgeist.
It is worth concentrating on the question asked in the poll relating to the Trump travel ban. Because the Essential poll found that when you added Donald Trump to the equation, support for a ban dropped. From Paul Karp’s story:
The Essential poll found support for a travel ban on Muslim countries was highest among voters of “other” parties, with 66% in favour and 25% opposed. Coalition voters were the next most likely to support it, with 48% in favour and 38% opposed.
A majority of Labor voters were against a ban, with 59% opposed and 31% in favour. Greens voters were most opposed with 75% against a ban and just 15% in favour.
Another Essential poll on the question of Australian support for Trump’s travel ban.
Australians are evenly divided on Donald Trump’s ban on travel from a group of Muslim-majority nations, two new polls have found.
Christopher Pyne has tweeted his heart out this morning.
The Liberal Party's values are not limited to conservatism. We are Liberals because we are open to new ideas; tolerant of difference; 1/2
modern and forward looking; we believe in reward for effort and sharing Australia's good fortune with those in need. 2/2
Those most hurt by Cory Bernardi are the hundreds of thousands of SA voters who voted Liberal in the Senate only to be let down by him.
There’s been a lot of talk over the past 24 hours about why the Liberals in South Australia didn’t seek watertight undertakings from Cory Bernardi during the election campaign that he would stay in the Senate as a Liberal for the whole term.
A bit of context about that campaign. Despite the fact Nick Xenophon was surging in the state, Liberal campaign HQ in Canberra had done no detailed work on a South Australian Senate campaign.
The special minister of state, Scott Ryan, tells Sky that he too, is disappointed.
Political parties require compromise, says Ryan, and we can’t all have every single one of our views adopted in a party.
Cory Bernardi was elected as a Liberal. The honourable course is for him to resign his seat and for him to recontest it as an independent.
Simon Benson at the Australian has an unsourced report that Barnaby Joyce gave the Coalition frontbench a lecture, warning moderates to back off on the push for marriage equality, among other issues.
“It was a spray,” one Liberal frontbencher said.
“He said if we continue to be distracted by issues which only appeal to people in George Street and Oxford Street but not in the outer suburbs and the regions, things will not improve,” another said.
Joyce said we have to focus on what’s important to the Australian people.
The trade minister, Steve Ciobo, is speaking to Kieran Gilbert on Sky. He says the Bernardi defection is disappointing but hopes he will work constructively on the crossbench.
Gilbert points out that Bernardi’s colleagues feel betrayed and that they were given assurances by Bernardi that the Australian Conservatives would act like a faction of the party – what the Tea Party is to the Republican party. Ciobo says he is not getting into who said what to whom but:
He has to stare the Liberal party voters in the face and justify his actions.
Katharine Murphy has written the essential backgrounder on Cory Bernardi. You must read it through but here is a taste:
As we begin to contemplate what his next phase as a crossbencher will look like, we have certain advantages. Bernardi has been around sufficiently long in Australian politics to be a known known.
He’s an avowed climate sceptic. He’s a Christian values conservative: a vociferous opponent of marriage equality, and inclined to poke the hornets’ nest on Islam. He’s been at the pointy end of internal debates on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which is the frontline of the contemporary left-right culture war in Australia. On economic issues, he’s a low-tax, small-government man.
Is that the time already?
MPs and senators are now in the usual church service to start the parliamentary year. The treasurer, Scott Morrison, suggests that Bernardi made a promise to his Liberal voters – a promise that has now been broken. Bernardi’s fellow conservative senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells says she is disappointed. Backbench