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November 2016


02 November 2016
by Matthew Stevens

Union ordered to rewrite record after misleading members and media

The Maritime Union has been slapped with a rare trio of good faith bargaining orders.

The Maritime Union has been slapped with a rare trio of good faith bargaining orders after the Fair Work Commission found the union misled members in a continuing four-year stand-off with offshore oil and gas vessel operators.

Commissioner Danny Cloghan has ordered the union to formally correct the public record on a series of "misrepresentations" made to MUA members and the media about the progress of the negotiations and the behaviour of the employers and their bargaining agent, the Australian Mines and Metals Association. [Read More...]


01 November 2016
by James O'Neill

The Brandis threat to Australian democracy

Brandis and Gleeson

The independence of the solicitor-general is a critical safeguard, which Brandis has arbitrarily removed, jeopardising Australia's democracy in the process.

One of the fundamemental principles of a democratic society is the doctrine of the separation of powers.

This takes many forms, for example with Parliament voting on legislation proposed by the executive and any legislation passed being subject to review by the courts. [Read More...]


02 November 2016
by Mark Kenny

Senate bombshell: Family First senator Bob Day may have been invalidly elected

ex Senator Bob Day

The federal government's hopes of passing contested legislation in the Senate have been thrown into chaos following explosive revelations that its most compliant crossbench senator, Family First's Bob Day, may not have been legally elected.

Acting on legal advice, the government now believes it has been renting office space on behalf of the senator, whose company actually owned the premises.

That would be a breach of the constitution amounting to a "direct or indirect pecuniary interest" with the Commonwealth – which is specifically prohibited – and enough to make a person receiving such profit ineligible to stand as a member of the Australian Parliament. [Read More...]


01 November 2016
by Mike Seccombe

The Coalition attacks on statutory authorities

It didn’t take long for Senator Ian Macdonald to show his rudeness and ignorance in the committee hearing a couple of weeks ago. Just a matter of seconds, in fact.

The legal and constitutional affairs references committee of which Macdonald is deputy chairman was hearing evidence last Friday from Justin Gleeson, SC, solicitor-general of Australia and one of the country’s sharpest legal minds, about his conflict with Attorney-General George Brandis.

Macdonald began his questioning by asking if Gleeson was a barrister. One might have thought Macdonald, himself a lawyer, would have realised the initials SC appended to Gleeson’s name stood for senior counsel. [Read More...]


01 November 2016
by Paul Bongiorno

The rising toll of PM Malcolm Turnbull’s disappointments

In the four months since the election, approval of the prime minister’s performance has fallen 11 points in the Newspoll. The Australian’s headline highlighted the malaise pretty simply: “PM hits lowest rating.” Indeed the most popular prime minister in six years has fallen to one point below where Tony Abbott was just before he was dispatched to the backbench. Worse, it is feeding into the standing of the government, which is trailing Labor 52-48 for the third successive poll.

One veteran Liberal MP is worried that disappointment is much harder to turn around than anger.

Rather than being a circuit-breaker allowing Turnbull to reset, the election was merely an interruption to growing perceptions that what the electorate was getting was not what many were hoping for. Disappointment is the word that is becoming synonymous with the PM. [Read More...]


01 November 2016
by Katharine Murphy

Cross-media ownership: Xenophon bloc likely to support scrapping diversity rules

News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch. Labor’s argument against bulldozing Australia’s cross-media ownership regime, which would allow moguls such as Murdoch to own assets in the same market, is that Australia already has one of the most concentrated media markets in the developed world.

Coalition wants to dump regulations that prevent moguls such as Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes owning TV, newspaper and radio assets in the same market

The Turnbull government appears poised to win the Xenophon Senate bloc’s support for changes that would allow media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch or Kerry Stokes to own television, radio and newspaper assets in the same market. [Read More...]