Federal government MPs have called for the introduction of United States-style voter identification laws. In a report into the 2016 election, Coalition members of the joint standing committee on electoral matters claimed that “instances of multiple voting and concerns about fraudulent voting” showed the need for voter identification, citing former Liberal politician and conservative activist Robyn Nolan’s submission that there was “an escalation of support and acceptance for voter ID across Australia”. Voter identification procedures are a common feature of US politics, where they are widely criticised as a tactic to suppress voter turnout among young people and ethnic minorities. In a dissenting report, Labor MPs argued that voter ID laws would likely disenfranchise “First Nations Australians, people affected by family and domestic violence, younger Australians, homeless people and itinerant people”.
A cross-party alliance of federal MPs could inflict a major defeat on the government today when a bill that would transfer all asylum seeker children from Nauru to Australia comes to a vote in the House of Representatives. Labor, the Greens, the Centre Alliance and various minor parties and independents will vote to amend a government migration bill, inserting a clause that would ensure the transfer of asylum seekers and refugees in offshore detention to Australia for treatment upon medical advice. Actors and directors attending the AACTA awards on Wednesday wore blue ribbons in support of the measure, with Sweet Country director Warwick Thornton calling offshore detention “disgusting and childish and ridiculous”.
Former rugby league player and schoolteacher Chris Dawson has been arrested for the historic murder of his wife, Lynette. Dawson, the subject of The Australian’s true crime podcast The Teacher’s Pet, was arrested by Queensland Police at his Gold Coast home on Wednesday, and will be extradited to New South Wales. Lynette’s brother, Greg Simms, said her family had “had a cry, we’ve cuddled, we’re just completely over the moon that something has finally happened”. Lynette Dawson disappeared in 1982, and while the NSW coroner twice ruled that Chris Dawson most likely murdered her, the NSW director of public prosecutions declined to prosecute due to the absence of a body. In November, The Teacher’s Pet won the Gold Walkley award.
Discrimination protections for LGBTI students in religious schools have been delayed until next year after federal parliament failed to agree on the terms of a bill. Labor reluctantly agreed to delay the bill after the Centre Alliance supported a government amendment allowing schools to exempt teaching activity from the bill. Speaking on Wednesday, prime minister Scott Morrison said he was willing to grant Liberal MPs a conscience vote, while opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor would vote on the bill as a bloc.
And former Victorian Liberal MP John Pesutto has blamed the federal Liberal Party’s lack of action on climate change and leadership instability for the state party’s heavy loss in the Victorian election. Pesutto conceded the east Melbourne seat of Hawthorn on Tuesday, marking the first time the Liberals had lost the seat in an election since the 1950s. Speaking to ABC Radio Melbourne on Wednesday, Pesutto said the party did not “have enough women in parliament”, and that the party’s failure to appeal to people from culturally diverse backgrounds meant that “there are lots of people who are in the party or around the party who are reluctant to put their hand up” for office.