The government has lost a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the lower house passing a motion urging the government to accept New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s offer to resettle 150 refugees held on Manus Island. Trade minister Steve Ciobo and backbencher Warren Entsch were absent from the vote, triggering the 73-72 loss after all crossbenchers, bar Kennedy MP Bob Katter, supported the motion. While speaker Tony Smith allowed the vote to take place again once Ciobo and Entsch were present, it marked the second time the government had lost a vote on the House floor. Greens MP Adam Bandt, who moved the motion, said “apparently some government MPs didn’t think men languishing in horror was important enough to turn up and vote on”.
New South Wales education minister Rob Stokes has condemned a letter-writing campaign by One Nation Senator Brian Burston warning school principals that “many school children are becoming radicalised into terror-endorsing Islamists”. The letters, in which Burston warns principals Islam commands followers to “kill non-Muslims as their ticket into paradise”, were sent to schools last week using the Senate letterhead. Stokes described the letters as “hate mail” and urged principals to “place all correspondence from the One Nation Senator in the nearest recycling bin when it arrives” to ensure “some good may still come from it”. NSW Greens upper house politician Mehreen Faruqi has requested the Australian Human Rights Commission investigate the letters, calling them “divisive and offensive”.
Labor Senator and Yawuru man Pat Dodson has urged state governments to overhaul laws governing the treatment of prisoners after photos of a comatose Indigenous man shackled to his hospital bed were published. Kamilaroi man Eric Whittaker, 35, died in a Sydney hospital in July after being transferred from Parklea Prison. Photos published by Fairfax with permission from Whittaker’s family showed him shackled to his hospital bed by the ankles the day before he died, despite being on life support. Calling the photos “absolutely appalling”, Dodson said it was “high time” the federal government led states and territories in legislating a nationally consistent duty of care for police and corrective services.
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher may be referred to the High Court after her citizenship disclosure forms confirmed she was a dual British-Australian citizen at the time of her election. Gallagher submitted her renunciation documents in April 2016, but they were not processed by the British Home Office until August. Speaking to Guardian Australia, Labor MP and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney described the process of going through old Aboriginal Protection Board documents for evidence of her father’s place of birth “gut-wrenching”, while Labor Senator and Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri McCarthy noted the difficulty of ascertaining times and places of birth for her grandparents “because statistics and birth certificates were just not part of the way of Australia and the policies of the time didn’t include us.”. The disclosure process also unearthed some interesting tidbits about parliamentarians, including that One Nation leader Pauline Hanson believes her grandmother was born at Stonehenge and that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm is apparently the product of “immaculate conception”.
And Liberal MP Tim Wilson has proposed to his partner on the floor of the House of Representatives during debate on same-sex marriage. Wilson and his partner, Ryan Bolger, have worn rings on their left hands for seven years as “the answer to the questions we cannot ask”. Wilson said passing marriage equality would reflect a Liberal Party that was not “the party of the past, not the conservative party dying hard on the last barricade, but one with a lively mind and a forward-looking heart”. Wilson is the first MP ever to propose on the House floor. Presiding over the chamber, deputy speaker Rob Mitchell directed Hansard “to record that” Bolger’s response “was a 'yes', a resounding ‘yes’”. Debate on the same-sex marriage bill is expected to conclude on Wednesday or Thursday.