Last Month in Politics: Liberals to oppose The Voice, Trump arrested, and Shadow Cabinet reshuffle

Politicians in Australia and around the world had a quiet April, with few parliament sitting days, but there was still plenty of action and controversy.

Government, Anthony Albanese, Indigenous Affairs, Parliament, Reconciliation

Bree Liddell 3 May 2023
4 mins
Peter Dutton and new Shadow Indigenous affairs minister Jacinta Price

Politicians in Australia and around the world had a quiet April, with few parliament sitting days, but there was still plenty of action and controversy.

In Australia, for the first time in 10 months, we were given a reprieve as the Reserve Bank left interest rates on hold, while the Australian Council of Trade unions announced it will seek a 7 per cent minimum wage rise this year. And who could forget the commentary (subtle jabs) around Anthony Albanese being named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list.

Internationally, US President Joe Biden announced he will seek re-election in 2024; Finland officially joined NATO with the announcement drawing a hostile response from Russia as the two share a 1340km boarder; and the Swedish application to join NATO remained blocked by Türkiye and Hungary. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin lost the federal election after increased support for the right-wing National Coalition Party. However, Marin’s personal approval rating remained high despite pressure on her party over economic issues.

Iranian authorities announced they will install surveillance cameras in public settings to enforce the wearing of the hijab; and NASA has named the astronauts for its new Artemis II mission, with the first female and African American astronauts set to travel beyond low Earth orbit.

Europe announced it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035; the Italian Government approved a proposal to ban synthetic animal products; and Russia claimed President Vladimir Putin visited parts of Ukraine that are under Moscow-control.

In Australia, only a couple weeks after winning the NSW election, Premier Chris Minns announced t mobile phones will be banned in public high schools from 9 October this year; mandatory gambling breaks are set to be introduced at Melbourne Crown Casino after new government legislation; the ACT will spend $4.6 million over four years to provide free access to abortions; and Victoria will raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 within four years.

Australian businesses with more than 100 employees will be required to publish their gender pay gap after the Albanese Government passed a bill that began under the Morrison Government; and the Federal Government’s emissions reduction bill was passed with the support of the Greens, despite being opposed by the Coalition. The World Trade Organisation agreed to suspend its appeal over Chinese government tariffs on Australian barley as the governments try to reach a settlement; and the Government announced the ban of TikTok on Commonwealth devices.

In WA, the McGowan Government announced the new $1.8 billion Women and Babies Hospital will be built on land within the existing Fiona Stanley Hospital complex, while Perth Children’s Hospital will be the first in the State to introduce nurse/midwife to patient ratios. Separately, a new Aboriginal Advisory Body was announced to guide the Department of Education’s progress towards being more culturally responsive; and the State Government has released new guidelines to support the new Aboriginal cultural heritage laws.

Liberal Party opposes the Indigenous Voice to Parliament

The Liberal Party announced it will formally opposition the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Mr Dutton said the Opposition supported recognition for the First Nations people in the Constitution but did not support the proposed constitutionally enshrined advisory body.

MP Bridget Archer confirmed she does not agree with the party’s position and Senator Andrew Bragg will “keep an open mind on the Voice as a long-term supporter”.

The lack of bipartisan support for the Voice will now statistically make passing the referendum significantly harder – no referendum has passed in the country’s history without it.

Coalition shadow cabinet reshuffle

After several front bench resignations Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced a reshuffle within the Coalition. The below changes have been made:

  • Senator Jacinta Price – Indigenous Australians spokeswoman;
  • Senator Kerrynne Liddle – Spokesperson for Child Protection; Prevent of Family Violence;
  • Senator Michaelia Cash – Shadow Attorney-General; and
  • Senator James Paterson – Opposition Home Affairs.

Karen Andrews was the most recent resignation from the front bench following her decision not to recontest the next election.

Her resignation came shortly after former cabinet minister Ken Wyatt quit the party and Shadow Attorney-General and Opposition spokesperson for Indigenous Australians Julian Leeser MP quit the shadow cabinet over the Coalition’s decision not to support the Voice.

Donald Trump arrest

At the beginning of the month a grand jury voted to indict Donald Trump on criminal charges in relation to an investigation into the handling of ‘hush money’ payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, further payments to Karen McDougal and a doorman who claimed to have a story about a child Mr Trump had.

After his arrest, Mr Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony fraud charges over the alleged payments during the 2016 election campaign and was released without bail.

The charges fall under falsifying business records with the prosecution’s case alleging Mr Trump orchestrated a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to hide damaging information about him being released in the media.

The statement is said to allege Mr Trump signed multiple cheques reimbursing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the orchestration of the payments – however, his business records had these listed as payments for legal services.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told reporters after the court hearing that “Under New York state law it is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime.”

Donald Trump is the first US President in the country’s history to face criminal charges.

Federal Government response to Defence Strategic Review

A review to set the agenda for reforms to the Defence’s posture and structure was commissioned by the Albanese Government in its first 100 days. The public version of the review was released with the Government’s response along with and the National Defence Statement 2023.

More work is required on some recommendations, but the Government’s response outlines an agreement or agreement in-principle with six immediate action areas:

  • Acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines through AUKUS to improve deterrence capabilities;
  • Developing the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ability to strike targets precisely
    at longer-range and manufacture munitions in Australia;
  • Improving the ADF’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases;
  • Initiatives to improve the growth and retention of a highly skilled defence workforce;
  • Lifting capacity to rapidly translate disruptive new technologies into ADF capability, in close partnership with Australian industry; and
  • Deepening of diplomatic and defence partnerships with key partners in the Indo-Pacific.

In the May Budget, the Government will decide whether to cancel or reprioritise defence projects/activities that are deemed to no longer align with Australia’s strategic circumstances.

A National Defence Strategy will be established in 2024 and updated every two years. The aim of the strategy will be to encompass the plan for defence policy, planning, capabilities and resourcing as well as ensuring the Integrates Investment Program aligns with Review recommendations.

Photo credit: Peter Dutton/Facebook

Bree Liddell More from author

Bree is Cannings Purple’s Government Relations Consultant, working with a diverse set of clients across the energy, resources, education and health sectors.

Qualified with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (Politics and International Relations) and Bachelor’s Degree in Science (Sport Science)(Nutrition), Bree is currently pursuing her Graduate Certificate in Public Policy.

Bree is skilled in strategic communications with the capability to review and analyse policies and procedures to deeper understand the government’s position, particularly identifying areas of opportunity for clients to engage government and create a working relationship.

With a broad range of working knowledge of the political system and internship experience in a state members office, Bree is perfectly placed to assist clients in navigating government process, policies and approvals.

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