• Hannah Phillips

The Week in Politics


While Australia has been preoccupied with the same-sex marriage survey and the energy debate, including a threat by Tony Abbott to cross the floor on a clean energy target if it increased the hand outs for renewable energy, the real excitement has been happening across the ditch.


There was a frisson of excitement when Jacinda Ardern was elected leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.

She looked the goods: a former adviser to Tony Blair with a strong family political background and a modern progressive political philosophy, she seemed like New Zealand’s answer to Justin Trudeau.

As a consequence, from the time she was elected the leader of the Labour Party on August 1, she experienced a meteoric rise in the polls.

A week ago Labour was leading the National Party, which is in government, by 44 to 40 on a two party preferred basis.

Ms Ardern was leading the NZ PM Bill English as preferred Prime Minister by 34 to 32.

This week the wheels fell off: Labour dropped seven points and the Nationals gained nine in the 2PP.

The ostensible reason was the absence of a tax policy in Labour’s economic platform but it was more likely that the electorate had decided that Ms Ardern was not ready for the job and that it was not worth giving up a safe pair of hands for a celebrity candidate.

In the meantime the political atmosphere in the Land of the Long White Cloud has been livened up by the intervention of the Chinese in the election.

The Nationals are fielding a candidate, Jian Yang who spent 17 years in the Peoples’ Liberation Army teaching English to Chinese soldiers, who’s been accused of being a Chinese spy but he’s not the only one.

There are allegations that Chinese owned dairy farms are being used as launching sites for high altitude balloons carrying spyware.

Not only this but Chinese state owned companies have donated $100,000 to Mr English’s campaign.

Saturday’s New Zealand election could be the most exciting for some time.

The winner will probably be known early in the evening Australian time.

From the Gallery: September 22, 2017 • The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, heard yesterday that, in May and June 2016, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts asked the UK Consulate in Brisbane and the British Embassy in Canberra whether he was still a British citizen in messages sent to two email addresses which, it now transpires, were decommissioned by the British government in 2010. Not surprisingly the Senator’s emails elicited no response. He later sent another message complaining that he’d received no reply although the email address to which he directed this missive remains a mystery. Senator Roberts rejected the suggestion that, since he’d framed his query in terms of “Am I still a British citizen?” this meant that he knew he’d been one at some stage. Apparently if he’d Googled “How to renounce my British citizenship?” he would have found a bunch of official websites ending with ‘.gov.uk’. Senator Roberts told the Court that he did not remember where he found the email addresses he used in May and June last year.

• Should have worn a hat: Federal National MPs have clubbed together in support of a campaign to raise awareness of melanoma and skin cancer in Australia. The Melanoma Institute’s ‘Leave Your Hat On’ features Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, who had some bits of cancerous skin removed earlier this year, Bridget McKenzie and Damian Drum, some of whom engage in pretty dorky dancing to the tune of the Joe Cocker classic, ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’. Darren Chester’s cameo appearance in the bath, albeit sans Akubra, is said to be worth a watch if only for the bubbles.

• Just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not after you: The buzz around the water cooler this week is that foreign diplomats have been banned from walking unescorted around Parliament House on the grounds some may be foreign spies.

• The PM was in Coffs Harbour on Monday. He was promoting the local National Member Luke Hartsuyker MP by opening a redevelopment of the Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park.

• Another stop on the PM’s tour of the eastern seaboard this week has been to visit the NutraDry Factory in Queensland. The factory sits in the electorate of the Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans MP. The PM visited to promote the local member on Wednesday at 1.20pm.

• The Prime Minister on his tour of the eastern seaboard visited a road upgrade in the electorate of Luke Howarth with the Leader of the Queensland LNP Tim Nichols.

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