August 12th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The lessons for euthanasia are there for the learning

EDITORIAL Shorten's agenda will cripple Australia

CANBERRA OBSERVED Candidates must polish their paperwork skills

FOREIGN AFFAIRS EU v Poland: disquiet on the eastern front

EUTHANASIA How safe will Victoria's 'locked tin' be?

ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS Pacific likely to focus for Taiwan's Iron Lady

PHILOSOPHY Aristotle and the virtues as products of reason

FEDERAL POLITICS Backbench marriage push angers Coalition colleagues

MUSIC Time and times: Melody is moments gathered for an instant

CINEMA Dunkirk: When survival is victory

BOOK REVIEW Just socialism by another name?

BOOK REVIEW The rightness of goading the left


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Backbench marriage push angers Coalition colleagues

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, August 12, 2017

Federal Coalition members of Parliament are angry that several of their colleagues are planning to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives to consider another bill to redefine marriage.

Liberal backbenchers Warren Entsch (Leichhardt, Qld.), Trevor Evans (Brisbane, Qld.), Tim Wilson (Goldstein, Vic.), Jason Wood (La Trobe, Vic.), and Trent Zimmerman (North Sydney, NSW) are reportedly behind the private members’ bill, which is being drafted by their senate colleague, Dean Smith (Western Australia). (The Australian, August 1, 2017)

A suspension of standing orders requires an absolute majority of all members of the house, not just a simple majority of members in the house at the time of a vote. They would need 76 votes out of 150 to succeed in the house.

Coalition policy is for a plebiscite on the marriage issue. This policy is backed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and is part of the Liberal-National Coalition agreement.

A suspension of standing orders by Liberal MPs would effectively mean backbenchers taking control of the Government by overriding Coalition policy and handing the Parliament to the Labor Opposition. The policy of Labor and the Greens is for a parliamentary vote and opposition to the Coalition’s policy for a people’s vote on marriage.

While Coalition members always have the right to cross the floor and vote against a government bill, the suspension of standing orders by government backbenchers to consider a bill that is opposed to government policy is unusual, to say the least, if not unprecedented.

Leading Coalition parliamentarians, including Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz and Barry O’Sullivan, have warned that the move will undermine the Government’s authority.

Labor is likely to press the issue to keep the Coalition divided at a time when the Government is trying to deal with a range of other critical issues, such as the crisis in Australia’s electricity market and underemployment.

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