Consequences of Disqualification as a Senator on Votes and Payments

With the disqualification of Rod Culleton as a Senator, by virtue of having been convicted at the time of his election for an offence punishable by imprisonment of more than twelve months, and facing sentence, a number of questions arise as to the consequences of this decisions for his votes while sitting in the Senate, and the recovery of any payments made to him. Continue reading “Consequences of Disqualification as a Senator on Votes and Payments”

Re Webster: Members of Parliament, Pecuniary Interests and Disqualification – A Background

At the heart of the High Court challenge to Bob Day’s qualification to contest the Double Dissolution election of 2016 lies the case of Senator James Webster in 1975. Contentious at the time in the midst of wider political controversy, and thought potentially capable of opening up to scrutiny all manner of contractual arrangements, including residential leases, held between MPs and the Commonwealth, the relevant clause was narrowly interpreted by a single judge of the High Court and benefit of the legal doubt given to the Senator.

Since then, it has been the subject of criticism, and may well be overturned in the course of current proceedings. In its submissions in the current case, the Commonwealth has argued that, while Bob Day would fall foul even if the case were applied, Re Webster was too narrowly decided. Herewith the background to the original case, and its aftermath. Continue reading “Re Webster: Members of Parliament, Pecuniary Interests and Disqualification – A Background”

The Time Philip Ruddock Opposed Double Dipping by Retired MPs

Revelations that fomer Minister and Member of Parliament, Philip Ruddock, has continued to receive his full parliamentary retirement benefits whilst in receipt of payment for his role as the Government’s Special Envoy on Human Rights are at odds with a stance he took early in his parliamentary career.

In Senate Estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday, the Department indicated that Mr Ruddock’s parliamentary pension had not been reduced, as a result of legal advice on the status of his role as a “Special Envoy”. The DFAT officer to which the role reports,  Dr Lachlan Strahan, First Assistant Secretary, Multilateral Policy Division, told the Estimates session that Ruddock had obtained the legal advice on his own initiative. Continue reading “The Time Philip Ruddock Opposed Double Dipping by Retired MPs”

New Rules Net Liberal Party Extra $49,000 For Software Subsidy

After a cap was removed on a controversial public subsidy of the major political parties, 72 Coalition MPs claimed an additional $48,935 in the first half of 2015-16 over and above what could be claimed in previous years.

This was paid to the Liberal owned entity, Parakeelia Pty Ltd, the subject of recent controversy over its practice of funding the Liberal Party by way of public subsidy for electoral management software it developed and owns. Continue reading “New Rules Net Liberal Party Extra $49,000 For Software Subsidy”

Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege

The Parliamentary Privilege questions enlivened by the series of raids on Senator Stephen Conroy’s office, the home of an adviser and the server maintained by the Department of Parliamentary Services, arising from the Australian Federal Police’s investigation into the leak of NBN documents brings to a head a series of questions raised across a number of legislatures in Australia, the UK and the US in the past twenty years.

On the matter being raised in the Senate yesterday, a background paper from the Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing was tabled. It indicates that she is not satisfied with the processes used by the Senate until now to deal with disputes over privilege between Senators and law enforcement. Continue reading “Search and Seizure and Parliamentary Privilege”

The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger

Since 1996, an allowance has seen over $5.6 million in taxpayer funds made available to Federal Members of Parliament for “software reimbursement”, with members of the major parties directed to claim this allowance against software prescribed by their party.

A decade long cap on the allowance of $1500 per year has now been removed, thereby exposing taxpayers to greater charges by parties and reimbursement claims by MPs. Continue reading “The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger”

NSW Crime Commission faces staff upheaval, move from drug crime focus

In a remarkably frank session last week with the Parliamentary Committee responsible for overseeing the NSW Crime Commission, the Crime Commissioner, Mr Peter Hastings QC foreshadowed a renewed period of change, turmoil and upheaval at the state’s secretive organised crime fighting body.

Continue reading “NSW Crime Commission faces staff upheaval, move from drug crime focus”

The Million Dollar Campaign That Failed to Land A Seat

The controversial No Land Tax Coalition party committed over a million dollars and out spent Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party by hundreds of thousands of dollars in its ill-fated effort to win a seat in the NSW Legislative Council at the March 2015 election.

Despite declared party and candidate election expenses of $1.063 million, including nearly $645,000 allocated for election day workers, and drawing the coveted first box on the ballot paper, No Land Tax narrowly lost to the Animal Justice Party in the contest for the last remaining seat in the Upper House. The Animal Justice Party spent $4865 on its election campaign. Continue reading “The Million Dollar Campaign That Failed to Land A Seat”

A History of the Sir Garfield Barwick Address

The Sir Garfield Barwick Address is a lecture organised by the Legal Professional and Policy Branch of the NSW Liberal Party. Intended to honour the former barrister, Liberal Attorney General, Minister for External Affairs, and Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, it has been held at Sydney’s Castlereagh Hotel since 2010.

Until now, the speakers have largely consisted of lawyer-politicians, who either served with Sir Garfield, or followed in his tradition. Speakers have included the former Prime Minister, John Howard, three Commonwealth Attorneys-General and a Chief Justice of the High Court. Future speakers are said to include former High Court justice, Ian Callinan, and a former associate to Sir Garfield, Garry Downes, a former Federal Court judge and President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Continue reading “A History of the Sir Garfield Barwick Address”

NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)

In May 2014, in response to the mounting revelations at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of breaches and circumvention of NSW’s electoral disclosure laws, particularly in respect of donations by prohibited donors, Premier Mike Baird announced a Panel of Experts to review the system of political donations. Continue reading “NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)”