GR Tool: NSW Committee Chairs Mailing List
Download Free

Untangling the citizenship decision: what you need to know

Brushing aside the conjecture and commentary, what are the likely outcomes of the citizenship decision?

It was once said a week was a long time in politics.  Nowadays, it seems a tweet is a long time in politics. One moment the Prime Minister is buoyantly rallying his troops behind his National Energy Guarantee, the next, he's lost majority government.

The decision handed down by the High Court on Friday 27th of October saw two of the Coalition's best performers disqualified from holding a seat in Parliament due to their citizenship status at the time of the 2016 election. The decision also opened a can of angry, venomous, worms for the Government on legislation passed and decisions made under the auspices of two illegitimate cabinet members.

And of course a natural by-product of the decision has been the mountains of conjecture and speculation by the media as to what happens next. Sweeping aside long odds possibilities, what is the likely wash-up of the High Court's decision?

Unlikely niceties for Nash

Fiona Nash has undeniably been one of the best performers in the Coalition Government.

Nash proved a solid counterpart as Assistant Health Minister to Health Minister Peter Dutton and following the 2016 election was promoted to cabinet as Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Regional Communications.

With Nash's disqualification, the Liberal's Holly Hughes steps into the vacant Senate position. There was early speculation that Hughes would step aside for the Cabinet Minister at an appropriate juncture, however this is unlikely given Hughes' passion for politics and long-held ambition to sit in the 'Big House'. A factional player with the Centre Right, Hughes is expected to grab the opportunity with both hands and hold tight, regardless of heat or heartache from her Coalition peers.

Barnaby likely to walk back in to parliament

The rule of thumb in by-elections is that whichever political party holds the seat takes a thumping. Recent by-elections in NSW are good illustrations with swings of 10-20 percent against the NSW Government.

The byelection for the seat of New England will be the exception that proves the rule. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is exceedingly popular and the general mood is likely to be that he was 'buggered by the system' rather than having done anything wrong. Mud-slinging regarding his personal life is also unlikely to have a large impact.

Add to this the fact that One Nation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Tony Windsor have all declared they will not be standing, it's highly likely Barnaby will 'cake walk' back into Parliament.

Penalty kick for third parties

The Federal Parliamentary Library has identified over 100 decisions and votes in the House that could be called into question as a result of the disqualification of Nash and Joyce. While the expense and time would rule out challenges to every single one, there are a few controversial government decisions that third parties may challenge in court.

The ACTU has already sought legal advice and there is a very strong possibility they will appeal the winding back of penalty rates for workers passed by Parliament earlier this year. It would be a politically smart move, considering the government won the vote with the support of Independent for Indi, Cathy McGowan following Nationals MP George Christensen decision to cross the floor and vote with Labor.

If the Deputy Prime Minister's vote was ruled out of order, the entire issue could be dragged through the Parliament again and the government may not have the same support the second time around.

Crossbench to crusade for Royal Commission into banking sector

The crossbenchers in the House of Representatives have sensed blood in the water and will use the weeks until the December 2 New England byelection to formulate new legislation calling for a Royal Commission into the banking sector.

History could be made as crossbench MPs with stratospherically different ideologies work together to force a vote on an expensive investigation into the practices of Australia's major banks. And with Labor likely to back their Bill, crossbenchers' primary target will again be the Member for Dawson, George Christensen. The Government only controls the outcome with the casting vote of Speaker, Tony Smith. If the Member Dawson votes with Labor and the crossbench, the Government and the banks are sunk.

The only question is will Christensen cast his lot in with the crossbench or will he hold out and see what the Government offers him to remain a team player.

The perils of Parry

Like lemon juice on a paper cut, on Wednesday came along another Coalition casualty. As if the conjecture and speculation over the citizenship debacle wasn't already stealing some of the Government's clear air, Senator Stephen Parry's announcement that he is stepping down due to being a British subject has sucked it out completely. While the announcement by the President of the Senate won't impact prior Government decisions, it adds to the general impression of disarray that is plaguing the Coalition.

Want more content?

Receive actionable advice and industry news, straight to your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from the blog

Get started with the leading
advocacy platform
Political Intelligence
Relationship Management
Impact Reporting