Australian Parliament Is Back, And More Chaotic Than Ever

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A new year gives us all time to turn over a new leaf, maybe reinvent or improve ourselves in some way. No-one gave this message to Australian parliamentarians though as they returned to Canberra for a new session. A sitting fortnight that has had a narrative which is worthy of an Academy Award nomination. Starting with…

Barnaby Joyce. The Deputy PM (pictured in featured image) ended last year on a bit of a high, winning the by-election for his seat triggered when he was ruled ineligible due to having dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship. However, this week it emerged that he had been having an extra-marital affair with a member of his staff, who is now pregnant with his child. The scandal continued to grow as it appeared he had been living in free accommodation in his electorate after leaving his family home. This was scandalous enough to even cause disgraced former Senator Sam Dastyari to crawl out of the woodwork to call on Joyce to resign, coinciding with the swearing in of his replacement…

Kristina Keneally. The ex-Premier of New South Wales continues a political comeback that started by losing the Bennelong by-election last year, taking a seat in the Senate instead. Keneally (pictured below) can immediately be considered an influential presence in Parliament, with some already suggesting she could be destined for bigger things. But having another big beast in Parliament may not be good news for…

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Bill Shorten. The Labor leader hasn’t been under significant pressure since Labor’s surprising performance in the 2016 election. However, Labor now only lead 52-48 in the Newspoll, and Shorten still lags behind Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as preferred premier. The sizzle around a potential leadership change is still at a low temperature, but it could start to rise if Labor lose in the upcoming by-election triggered by the resignation of…

Kevin Feeney in Batman. The latest victim of the world’s most tedious scandal, Feeney resigned after failing to prove he wasn’t still a British or Irish citizen and then chose not to head to the by-election mobile, instead leaving politics altogether. The Greens are confident of winning a by-election in Batman, where they only narrowly lost in 2016, and Labor’s chances may be affected if…

Susan Lamb has to resign as MP for Longman. She hasn’t been referred to the High Court by the government yet, but remains embroiled in her own citizenship scandal which may trigger another by-election. Longman, like Batman, is a marginal seat with the Liberals having held it from 2010 to 2016, but Labor would be favourites to retain it in a by-election. However, the main issue in Queensland (where Longman constituency is situated) at present is the Adani coalmine, which Queensland Labor support. Having Labor figures in the media traipsing around supporting an enormous mine, however, may play into the hands of the Greens in Batman. Labor have therefore tried to diffuse the Lamb situation by shifting the citizenship blame game onto…

Jason Falinski. Labor have sought legal advice on the citizenship status of the Liberal Party MP for Mackellar, the son of European Jews who came to Australia after World War Two. The legal advice claimed Falinski is still a Polish citizen, thus making him ineligible to serve in Parliament, but Falinski is disputing this as the legal citizenship of Poles was exceedingly murky after the war, especially as his father had moved to Poland from what is now Kyrgyzstan. The citizenship scandal has now become gruellingly complex, and is descending into ‘I saw Goody Proctor with the Devil’ levels of inanity. It could all be solved by a federal election, and the man who controls when that happens is…

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Malcolm Turnbull, who has ruled out an election this year. Turnbull, above, appears to be in a period of relative stability as Liberal leader, partly ensured by the Yes vote in the Same-Sex Marriage postal survey last year. Turnbull has also seen the strengthening of his support base with Mathias Cormann replacing the retiring George Brandis as Leader of Government in the Senate. Cormann and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton are seen as Turnbull’s most high-profile Conservative backers, protecting him from the machinations of arch-nemesis and former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. At this point, Turnbull is enjoying a break from being the most embattled leader in Parliament, an honour which brings us back to…

Barnaby Joyce, who may struggle to hold onto his position as National Party leader, given his alleged marital and apartment-based improprieties. Joyce has taken a leave of absence next week, so will not be Acting Prime Minister while Turnbull is on a foreign jaunt. His relationship with a staffer has seen Turnbull amend the ministerial code of conduct to exclude ministers from having relationships with staffers, nicknamed the ‘Bonk Ban’ by Sky News presenter Samantha Maiden.

Parliament returns in a fortnight with Senate Estimates, part of the procedure of scrutiny of the annual budget cycle. Barnaby will no doubt face heavy pressure regarding potential financial improprieties relating to his affair, and it will be at that point that we will see if he can ride out the storm.

‘New Year, New Me’? Not in Australian politics.

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2nd Year Modern History and Politics student. Moans a lot about politics, unlikely to actually do anything about it. Direct complaints towards @FSGLoveman on Twitter.

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