Marriage equality is now law. Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s bill passed the House of Representatives at about 6pm yesterday, with only four MPs voting against it. Speaking at Parliament House, former Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the vote was a tribute to LGBTI people “who are gone and those who are yet to come”. Same-sex couples will be able to register their intent to marry from Saturday once Governor-General Peter Cosgrove ratifies the bill tomorrow, meaning the first weddings will take place from January 9. Besides the #MarriageEquality hashtag, “House of Representatives” and “LGBTIQ”, the term “Lyle” trended worldwide on Twitter after thousands of people tweeted “eat shit Lyle” at Australian Christian Lobby chair Lyle Shelton.
The charities and non-profit sector has reacted furiously to news that former Labor MP Gary Johns has been appointed as the new head of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Johns, who is notorious for referring to Aboriginal women on welfare as “cash cows” and suggesting mandatory contraception for welfare recipients, has often criticised charities for advocating political and social causes, writing in 2014 that “advocacy is not a charitable purpose”. Community Council of Australia CEO David Crosbie said the appointment was proof the government was “committed to attacking the charities sector”, while Australian Council for International Development CEO Mark Purcell said the appointment was part of a government push to “have the charity regulator tie up charitable critics of government policy between now and the next election”.
The High Court has ruled that trade unions cannot strike during enterprise bargaining negotiations if doing so is in breach of orders from the Fair Work Commission. The decision, which further restricts the right of workers to take industrial action, was handed down in a dispute between the Australian Workers’ Union and resources company Esso over a 2015 industrial action at Esso’s Longford plant in Victoria. Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the ruling further eroded the right to strike in Australia, saying “our industrial laws are fundamentally broken and tip the power even further in favour of employers”.
Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie has been elected as new deputy leader of the Nationals following a ballot yesterday. McKenzie, who beat Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, Riverina MP Michael McCormack and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt for the job, is a firearms enthusiast who lives in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Elwood and campaigned against John Howard’s higher educations cuts while president of the Deakin University Student Association in 2003.
In the United States, Democratic Senator Al Franken has resigned after multiple women accused him of sexually harassment and assault. Franken maintained his innocence in a speech to the US Senate, saying “some of the allegations against me are simply not true” while “others I remember very differently”. Radio host Leeann Tweeden, writer Tina Dupuy, army veteran Stephanie Kemplin, Minnesota resident Lindsay Menz and a former Congressional aide who has remained anonymous are among the women to accuse Franken, who has been under growing pressure to resign in recent weeks as more women came forward. Speaking in the Senate, Franken referred to allegations against US President Donald Trump and Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying “there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party”.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced he will seek re-election in 2018, likely securing a fourth six-year term. If Putin serves a full term, his 24 years as Russian leader will be the longest tenure since Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union for almost three decades. Opinion polls suggest about 85 per cent of Russians have confidence in Putin’s leadership, while supporters of liberal opposition candidate Alexei Navalny have been assaulted, harassed and threatened.