Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has lost the support of the Western Australian National Party, deepening the leadership crisis that has engulfed the federal Nationals. In a statement, WA Nationals leader Mia Davies said “the Nationals brand across regional Western Australia has suffered as a result of Mr Joyce's actions” and that Joyce was causing “ongoing damage” at federal and state level. "It is the view of the Parliamentary National Party of Western Australia that Mr Joyce's position as federal leader is no longer tenable”, Davies said. The WA branch of the party has a history of independence from the larger party structure, with past federal representatives refusing to join coalition governments. Joyce has vowed to stay on as leader, declaring “I’m not going anywhere” in an interview with Fairfax as he takes a week of personal leave. Speaking on Sky News yesterday, Queensland Senator Matt Canavan denied he knew of former Joyce staffer Vikki Campion’s relationship with Joyce when she took a job in Canavan’s office in April 2017.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s promise to implement the Voice to Parliament Indigenous advisory body recommended by the Uluru Statement has won the support of a majority of voters. A Newspoll ($) released on Tuesday found 57 per cent of people backed the idea, while just 32 per cent opposed it. Shorten promised a Labor government would legislate for a Voice to Parliament last week, saying Labor would “not wait” for the Coalition to agree to a referendum proposal on the issue. Actor and Wongatha-Yamatji and Noongar-Gitja woman Shareena Clanton criticised the government’s refusal to consider the proposal in an appearance on ABC’s Q&A on Monday, saying “we are tired of non-Indigenous Australia thinking they know what is good for us and thinking that they can be the voice for Aboriginal Australia”.
Defence documents lodged by The Daily Telegraph in the Geoffrey Rush defamation case allege Rush repeatedly touched the genitals of a female actor while carrying her onstage during a production of King Lear in 2015. The document also claims Rush went into the women’s toilet during an end-of-show party and stood outside a cubicle occupied by the actor, Eryn Jean Norvill, who told him to “fuck off” and was “visibly upset” after the encounter. Federal Court judge Michael Wigney denied a request from Rush’s legal team to suppress details of the defence, saying “the interests of open justice outweigh the considerations” of possible damage to Rush’s reputation. Rush is suing the owner of The Daily Telegraph, Nationwide News Pty Ltd, over a December article alleging the actor engaged in “inappropriate conduct” during the production. Rush has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
And a commission of inquiry into Western Australia’s finances under the former Barnett Liberal-National government has found billions of dollars were spent on “a knee-jerk, ad hoc” basis, leaving the state’s finances in poor shape. The inquiry, commissioned by premier Mark McGowan and headed by former state treasury official John Langoulant, found that major public works “did not have robust (or any) business cases”, and that “large buckets of money were allocated to high-level and relatively undefined objectives”. The Royalties for Regions program “saw the development of a ‘shadow budget’ process” where ministers could approve large projects without proper process and consultation, while a $4.8 billion contract to manage Fiona Stanley Hospital was awarded to private contractor Serco without a business case. Liberal leader Mike Nahan and WA Nationals leader Mia Davies testified before the inquiry, while former premier and sitting Liberal MP for the seat of Cottesloe, Colin Barnett, refused to appear.