Abbott Releases Foreign Investment Discussion Paper

The Coalition has released a discussion paper on foreign investment in agricultural land and agribusiness.

Abbott, Truss & Hockey

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said “the Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment”. However, “there is scope to improve Australia’s foreign investment regime when it comes to investment in agricultural land and agricultural business”.

The paper was released by Abbott, Nationals leader Warren Truss and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in Sydney today.

The paper is titled: “Foreign Investment In Australian Agricultural Land And Agribusiness”. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has been put in charge of managing a “Discussion Paper process”. Submissions to the process are open until October 31, 2012.

Abbott, Truss and Hockey discussed foreign investment at a press conference this morning:

Media release from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the Foreign Investment Discussion Paper.

The Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment.

Foreign investment has been and will continue to be instrumental to the economic development and growth of Australia.

We support a foreign investment regime that strengthens our economy, promotes growth, and fosters confidence that foreign investment is in our national interest. [Read more…]

Tony Crook Supports Flood Levy

The independent Nationals MP Tony Crook will support the flood levy legislation in the House of Representatives, in a blow to Tony Abbott’s attempts to block the tax.

Crook is the member for O’Connor, the Western Australian electorate he won from the Liberal Party’s Wilson Tuckey at last year’s election. Whilst broadly supportive of the coalition, Crook has voted with the government on a number of pieces of legislation and procedural motions.

This is the text of a statement posted on Tony Crook’s website.

Tony Crook

Support for Commonwealth Flood Response Package, Crook

FEDERAL Member for O’Connor Tony Crook today announced he would support the proposed Commonwealth Flood Response Package, due to be introduced when Parliament resumes next week.

Mr Crook this morning held discussions with Prime Minister Julia Gillard regarding the detail of the funding package.

“After careful consideration of the facts that I have been provided to date in relation to the implementation of the levy, infrastructure deferrals and program cuts, I am satisfied that the Government’s responses (sic) is adequate and responsible,” Mr Crook said.

“My support is conditional upon me reviewing the draft legislation, which is expected to be introduced into the Parliament late next week, and is consistent with the advice currently provided to me.”

Mr Crook sought assurances that residents of the Gascoyne would be able to seek exemptions from the levy if they were affected by the floods, which the Prime Minister provided today.

“Furthermore, the Prime Minister also confirmed to me today that there are no plans for Commonwealth funded WA infrastructure projects to be cut or delayed as a result of the flood package,” he said.

“This directly recognises the importance of these infrastructure projects in supporting WA’s critical role in the National economy.”

Mr Crook also said that any discussions regarding a new and stand alone Natural Disaster Relief Fund should be considered separately.

“Such a natural disaster fund would provide Governments at both State and Federal level with the ability to better prepare for and recover from significant events,” he said.

“However, right now we have a catastrophic event that we need to deal with and we have a responsibility to do this in a timely manner.”

“I appreciate the many Australians that have contacted me to express a view on the flood levy, I am convinced that a response which shares the responsibility between Government and the taxpayer to an event that is shaping up to be our most significant natural disaster in economic terms, is appropriate.”

Mr Crook said he hoped that if the shoe was on the other foot that his fellow Eastern States colleagues would be supporting Western Australia and O’Connor to deal with whatever disaster that may arise.

Victorian Liberals Put The Greens Last As Labor Stitches Up A Deal

The Liberal Party in Victoria has decided to preference the ALP ahead of the Greens in all lower house seats in the November 27 election.

The decision dramatically reduces the chances of the Greens winning any of the inner-Melbourne electorates it had been favoured to capture. Without Liberal preferences, the Greens will struggle to capture Richmond, Brunswick or Northcote, although it may still be in with a good chance in Melbourne.

A minority government following the election is now much less likely.

The Labor Party has chosen to preference the Greens in all Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council districts. The Greens have agreed to give preferences to Labor in most of the key marginal seats.

The Group Voting Tickets for the Legislative Council have also been published by the Victorian Electoral Commission. As in the Senate, proportional voting is used to elect 5 members in each of 8 districts. Voters may cast a single vote “above the line” or number all preferences below the line. Preferences for votes cast above the line will be allocated according to the tickets lodged by the parties with the Commission.

Download the Group Voting Tickets for the Legislative Council (PDF):

Giving Substance To The Words

There are thirty-two new members of the 43rd Parliament, elected on August 21st. Three of them are returning after a voluntary or enforced absence. As a group they constitute one-fifth of the House of Representatives, a significant turnover and renewal of the lower house. Many of them will be there for years to come.

Over the past month, I have made a point of watching the maiden, or first, speeches of these members. On the whole, it is difficult not to be impressed by these fledgling parliamentarians.

There has been much comment on the moving speech from the Western Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House, but others also delivered considered and thoughtful speeches. [Read more…]

Turnbull Pushes For Delay of Emissions Trading Scheme Legislation

The Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced that the coalition will move to defer passage of the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation until next year.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Nationals leader, Warren Truss, Turnbull argued that the legislation should be delayed until after the Copenhagen conference at the end of the year.

Turnbull also argued that Australia should wait until US legislation is debated and voted on. He claimed that the American legislation will become the “benchmark” for other nations to follow.

The Opposition will oppose the ETS legislation if its deferral moves fail.

Click the PLAY button to listen to Malcolm Turnbull and Warren Truss:

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ACT Government Teeters; ALP Massacred In NSW By-Elections

The ACT Labor government of Jon Stanhope has lost its majority in today’s elections.

The ALP seems likely to be reduced from 10 to 7 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Liberal Party appears to have also won 7 seats, whilst the Greens have picked up 2 seats to take their total to 3.

Negotiations between the major parties and the Greens will now determine the outcome of the election.

The ALP polled 37.6% of the primary vote, a 9.3% swing. The Liberal Party primary vote declined by 3.7% to 31.1%. The Greens vote increased by 6.6% to 15.9%.

The ALP has also suffered massive swings in NSW state by-elections. In Ryde, previously held by former Deputy Premier John Watkins, there has been a swing of over 20% against the ALP and the seat has been won by the Liberal Party with 53% of the primary vote.

The ALP appears set to retain two of its safest seats, Cabramatta and Lakemba, although there has been a swing of around 22% in Cabramatta and a double digit swing in Lakemba.

In Port Macquarie, an independent candidate seems set to win against a determined effort by the Nationals to regain the seat once held by the current independent member for the Federal electorate of Lyne, Rob Oakeshott.

Nationals Mark Vaile Quits Party Leadership

The outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and leader of The Nationals, Mark Vaile, has announced that he is stepping down.

Vaile said it was time for generational change in the party. He said he would continue to represent his NSW electorate of Lyne.

Vaile’s departure means that the top three names in the Howard government have now effectively departed the political scene.

Mark Vaile, Nationals Member for Lyne

Listen to Mark Vaile’s Press Conference:

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2007 Federal Election Night Reports

Updates appear in reverse chronological order.

Ignominious End For John Howard

10.05pm – John Howard has become only the second prime minister in Australian history to lose an election and his seat. Whilst final results are not in, and there are many absentee, pre-poll and postal votes still to come, it now appears very unlikely that Howard can retain Bennelong. There has been a 5.24% swing against the Prime Minister and Maxine McKew currently leads on 51.11% of the two-party vote.

The only other prime minister to lose his seat was Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929. Bruce’s government was defeated over industrial relations changes and Bruce lost the Melbourne electorate of Flinders. He regained the seat at the next election. By contrast, Howard’s political career is now over.

Ministers Topple As Howard Government Falls

10.00pm – Four Howard government ministers look set to lose their seats as the coalition government was tossed from government in today’s election. Mal Brough, Peter Dutton, Gary Nairn and Jim Lloyd will likely join the Prime Minister, John Howard, as ministerial casualties of the election defeat.

Turnbull Triumphs In Wentworth; Challenge To Costello?

9.55pm – The Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has survived a challenge in his Sydney electorate of Wentworth. Polling 49.3% of the primary vote, and 53% of the two-party vote, Turnbull will now be subject to speculation that he will challenge Peter Costello for the Opposition leadership.

Rudd To Become Nation’s 26th Prime Minister As Howard Heads For Defeat In Bennelong; West Puts Brake On ALP Gains; Queensland Moves Against Coalition; Labor 2-Party Vote At 53.5%

9.00pm – The Australian Labor Party has been returned to federal government for the first time since 1996, securing around 53.5% of the two-party-preferred vote. The ALP will have around 85 seats in the new House of Representatives.

The incumbent prime minister, John Howard, looks set to lose his seat of Bennelong, although this is not yet certain. Labor’s Maxine McKew is polling around 51.7% of the two-party vote.

In Tasmania, the ALP has now won Bass and Braddon, giving it all 5 seats in the state.

In Victoria, the ALP has picked up Deakin and Corangamite, but is narrowly behind in La Trobe.

In New South Wales, in addition to Bennelong, the ALP appears to have won Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Lindsay, Parramatta, Robertson and Page.

In Queensland, the ALP has won Bonner, Dawson, Dickson, Leichhardt, Moreton and Longman. It is ahead in Flynn and Petrie.

In South Australia, the ALP has won Kingston, Makin and Wakefield.

In Western Australia, the ALP is behind in Cowan, although counting is at a very early stage. After early reports suggesting a swing to the Liberals, the ALP’s Gary Gray appears to be holding Brand. The ALP remains in the race in Hasluck, but is behind in Swan.

Regardless of what happens in Western Australia, it is clear that the overall ALP majority will allow it to form government and deliver Labor governments in every Federal, State and Territory jurisdiction in Australia.

ALP Storming To Victory

8.00pm – The ALP is 3 seats short of claiming victory in the election with no results yet available from Queensland. The ALP has won Braddon in Tasmania. It has also won the Victorian seats of Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe. In NSW, the ALP has gained Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Lindsay, Page, Parramatta and Robertson. It looks set to also claim the Prime Minister’s seat of Bennelong. In South Australia, the ALP has picked up Makin and Wakefield. Nicole Cornes has been defeated in Boothby. The ALP is threatening Christopher Pyne in Sturt.

Labor Leading In Page

7.22pm – The ALP’s Janelle Saffin is ahead of the Nationals candidate in Page with 52.15% of the vote. The seat is held by Ian Causley who is retiring. Labor’s Belinda Neal is marginally ahead in Robertson. Labor’s David Bradbury is well ahead in Lindsay.

The overall percentage of the vote counted is still small but the trend is clear. As Queensland and South Australian results start to come in over the next 30 minutes, the result will become more clear but it is obvious that the government has been defeated.

McKew Leads Howard In Bennelong; Small Count Only

7.20pm – Maxine McKew is leading John Howard 51.66% to 48.34%, but only 1.21% of the vote has been counted.

Labor Gains In Tasmania

7.15pm – The ALP has substantial leads in the seats of Braddon, Denison, Franklin and Lyons. The Liberal member for Bass, Michael Ferguson, is marginally ahead in Bass with 4.2% of the vote counted.

Labor On Track For Return To Government

7.00pm – The ALP is receiving a swing of between 4 and 5 per cent in early counting. There are no results in yet from Queensland or South Australia. The ALP looks to be picking up Bass and Braddon, although figures are still early. In Victoria, the ALP is ahead in Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe. There is a swing to the ALP in McMillan. In NSW, the ALP is doing well in Gilmore, Bennelong, Robertson, Cowper and Hume.

The former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, has said that the election has a similar feel to his 1983 victory over the Fraser coalition government.

State Of Play

6.25pm – The ALP had 60 seats in the old Parliament and needs to win 76 to be able to form government. There were 87 coalition members and 3 independents.

Reports Of ALP Optimism In Safer Coalition Seats

6.20pm – The ABC reports that the ALP is now looking to the next tier of seats for wins tonight, instancing the Queensland National Party seat of Dawson, held by De-Anne Kelly with a margin of 10%.

Stephen Smith Predicts Labor Win By 20 Seats

6.15pm – Stephen Smith, the Shadow Minister for Education, has predicted a Labor win by 20 seats. Smith says the ALP primary vote will be around 53-54%, that 12 marginal seats will fall in the blink of an eye and that the party will need to find 6-8 extra seats to counteract a possible swing to the coalition in Western Australia.

12% Of Voters Decided In Last 4 Days Says Poll

5.55pm – The Sky News AusPoll says 5% of voters decided how to vote today, 7% decided in the last three days, 6% decided in the last week, 12% decided in the last month, and 69% decided before that.

Howard To Lose Bennelong Says Poll

5.45pm – The Prime Minister, John Howard, will lose his seat of Bennelong by 53-47, according to the Sky News exit poll. The pollsters claim a large sample size in support of their statistics.

Eden-Monaro To Be Won By Labor 58-42 Says Poll

5.35pm – The Sky exit poll says Labor will win Eden-Monaro by 58-42. This is the seat regarded as a bellwether. It has been won by the party which formed governement at every election since 1972.

Exit Poll Gives Election To Labor

5.30pm – A Sky News exit poll says the election is likely to be won by Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party by a two-party-preferred margin of 53% to 47%, a swing of approximately 7%, and a possible gain of 30 seats by the Opposition.

Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio. [Read more…]

Voluntary Student Unionism: Senator Boswell’s Speech

This is the speech given by the Nationals Leader in the Senate, Ron Boswell.

The Senate is debating the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. The Nationals have long-supported the abolition of student union fees, believing that no-one should be forced to join a union or that their money should go to people or events that they do not support. The Nationals’ policy is to support the abolition of compulsory student union fees while also looking after the educational and other needs of students, particularly in regional areas.

This legislation gives effect to the abolition of the fees, while The Nationals have argued strongly for and secured a funding package of some $80 million that will contribute to non-educational university amenities and services. We went to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Education, Dr Nelson, and put our case in the strongest possible terms. The funding package would not be there today if it were not for the National Party. I believe it answers our policy resolution on VSU as much as is possible at this time. I am aware that there is a proposed amendment from my colleague Senator Joyce, which will be moved in the committee stage but which is not supported by the government. [Read more…]