• Hannah Phillips

This Week in Politics


Senator Katy Gallagher has been looking back at her family history and might be

Ecuadorian.


On Thursday the Australian Electoral Commission announced a redistribution which will cost the Coalition two and possibly three seats.

The ACT will pick up a third seat which will almost certainly be a safe Labor electorate. There is a campaign running to name the new seat.

One thing is for sure, it won’t be named Menzies. Nothing in Canberra is named after Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister with the exception of the Library at the Australian National University which he established.

Victoria has gained a seat which will probably also be won by Labor. After all Victoria is Labor’s stronghold. South Australia will probably lose a Liberal seat with two formerly Liberal electorates likely to be merged.

Malcolm Turnbull’s prospects of winning the next election just got a whole lot harder. The dual citizenship disaster became even murkier this week.

‘The Telegraph’ revealed that Katy Gallagher was an Ecuadorian because her British mother gave birth to her in Ecuador. While Senator Gallagher doggedly announced that she was not and never had been an Ecuadorian citizen, she and a number of Labor officials hot footed it to the Ecuadorian Embassy in O’Malley to try and clarify the matter.

At first blush she seemed to be safe because she had done nothing proactive to secure South American citizenship. However subsequent legal advice was that she was probably an Ecuadorian citizen notwithstanding.

Labor members have chosen to stand on their collective dignities and not refer Senator Gallagher to the High Court, at least until such time as the Court has delivered a definitive interpretation of what constitutes dual citizenship.

On Wednesday Senator Derryn Hinch revealed that he was entitled to a United States pension and said he would seek advice from the Solicitor General. He said that he had declined to accept the pension but he

couldn’t renounce it.

The Solicitor General’s advice must have been that this cast doubt over his eligibility to sit in the Senate because on Thursday Senator Hinch announced that he was referring himself to the High Court. As they say in the classics: chaos reigns.

$50 Million Export and Regional Wine Support Package Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Senator Anne Ruston the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Resources officially announced the government’s $50 million wine support package on Monday. Senator Ruston said “Australian wine is some of the best in the world it only makes sense we market it accordingly”.

From the Gallery

• Chris Uhlmann quits the ABC: One of Australia’s best political journalists announced on Wednesday that, after almost 20 years with the national broadcaster, he was quitting the ABC to take on the Channel 9 job recently vacated by Laurie Oakes. Uhlmann who, after a couple of remarkably diverse careers as a seminarian and a security guard, joined Auntie in 1998 and has been its political editor – across all media platforms – since 2015, won a Walkley Award for broadcast journalism and, with Steve Lewis, wrote a series of successful political thrillers. Announcing the move Mr Uhlmann said “It is hard to leave the ABC. I do it with a heavy heart and a profound sense of gratitude. I go simply because I am seeking another challenge and believe that the time is right.” We wish him all the best as he faces that challenge.

• Jacqui Lambie to front Federal Court: The Tasmanian Senator is being sued for wrongful dismissal by her former Chief of Staff Rob Messenger. In a statement of claim lodged with the Court, Messenger, who, along with his wife Fern, left Senator Lambie’s office in May this year, says that he was working unreasonably long hours during his employment with the Senator in addition to having worked unpaid for long periods before being taken on as Chief of Staff. He says that, having not received a positive (or perhaps any) response from the Senator to his complaints, he wrote to the Prime Minister’s office on 27 March, as well as to the President of the Senate, Stephen Parry, and the Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, about what Messenger alleges was inappropriate workplace behaviour. Senator Lambie apparently found out about the letters on the same day and gave Messenger a deadline of 29 March to explain why his employment shouldn’t be terminated. After another flurry of correspondence and a further deadline, Mr Messenger wrote to the Senator saying he’d been denied procedural fairness and enough time to respond. He was sacked two days later for “serious misconduct.” At the time, the Senator explained his disappearance from her office as the result of a difference of views about the direction she was taking. No hearing date has been set for the case but an application to strike out the statement of claim is expected to be lodged in court on Thursday by Lambie’s legal team.

• Barnaby Joyce: Kiwi of the Year? The Deputy Prime Minister has been revealed as one of the two front runners for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year Award alongside former co-Leader of the NZ Greens, Metiria Turei. A spokesman for the annual awards told ‘The New Zealand Herald’ that Mr Joyce’s eligibility for the awards would be assessed after nominations close on September 18. The High Court will be grateful to have the benefit of the committee’s decision before it considers Mr Joyce’s dual citizenship matter in October

Treasurer’s Ban on Excessive Card Surcharging Extended to All Businesses

Excessive card surcharging will be banned for all businesses from today, 1 September, announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison The extension of the ban to all businesses from today follows the regime applying to large businesses from 1 September last year.

Smaller businesses were granted extra time in which to prepare for the ban, but from today all those businesses will need to cease any excessive surcharging.

If they continue to impose a charge for card payments, they must restrict it to their reason-able cost of acceptance of the payment.Many businesses choose not to impose surcharges. Where they choose to impose a charge for card payment, this should be made clear to the consumer.

As a guide, where a charge is imposed, consumers should ex-pect to pay around 0.5 to 1 per cent for payment by debit card, 1 to 1.5 per cent by MasterCard and Visa credit cards and 2 to 3 per cent for American Express.

If charges exceed these ranges, the matter can be raised with the ACCC for investigation.

A surcharge includes any charge based on type of payment method used. This would include for example, charges imposed for ‘low value’ transactions. Merchants that face some fixed costs for accepting low value transactions should ensure that any charges they apply do not exceed their cost of acceptance.

Banks have been required to provide statements with average costs of accepting each payment method to inform business decisions on surcharging.

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