On 23 November 2021, Hon. Andrew Wallace, MP (Liberal National Party of Queensland) was elected as 33rd Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, following the resignation earlier that day of Hon. Tony Smith, MP.
Mr Smith had announced on 28 October 2021, his intention to resign the Speakership, telling the House that he wished to spend the remainder of his term as a Parliamentarian on the backbench, focusing entirely on his electorate of Casey, in Melbourne, Victoria. After presiding over Question Time for the final time on 22 November 2021, the then Speaker made a statement of thanks, which was followed by statements from the Prime Minister, Hon. Scott Morrison, MP (Liberal Party of Australia); the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Anthony Albanese, MP (Australian Labor Party); the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Barnaby Joyce, MP (The Nationals); the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Richard Marles, MP (Australian Labor Party); the Leader of the House, Hon. Peter Dutton, MP (Liberal National Party of Queensland); the Manager of Opposition Business, Hon. Tony Burke, MP (Australian Labor Party); and the Leader of the Australian Greens, Mr Adam Bandt, MP.
When the House met at noon the next day, the election of the new Speaker took place as the first item of business after the Clerk, pursuant to Standing Orders, read a communication from the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, AC DSC (Retd), informing the House that he had accepted Mr Smith’s resignation. The Member for Fisher, Mr Andrew Wallace, MP, and the Member for McEwen, Mr Rob Mitchell, MP (Australian Labor Party), were nominated for the position and both accepted their nomination.
The Member for Berowra, Mr Julian Leeser, MP (Liberal Party of Australia), who nominated Mr Wallace, told the House that “the Member for Fisher…was a trainee priest who became a carpenter and then a builder for 10 years before going to the bar and becoming Queensland’s leading construction lawyer, practising for 16 years at the bar.” Describing Mr Wallace as a “deep thinker and a true Parliamentarian”, Mr Leeser said that since his election to Parliament in 2016, Mr Wallace “has been among the most frequent contributors to debates” and that he was an “experienced Committee Chair.” Mr Leeser added that Mr Wallace “has been a Member of the Speaker’s panel for the last two years, and in this role, he has demonstrated a good knowledge of the Standing Orders and has developed a reputation for being firm but fair.”
Observing that the Member for Casey, Mr Smith, had set “a very high standard as Speaker of the House”, Mr Leeser said that it was his belief that Mr Wallace would “serve this House with dignity, with good humour and with distinction in accordance with the traditions fostered by the Member for Casey.”
Seconding the motion, the Member for Moncrieff, Ms Angie Bell, MP (Liberal National Party of Queensland), told the House that her fellow Queenslander was “a good man…well respected across the Chamber and eminently qualified and experienced” as well as being “calm, measured, respectful and intelligent.”
The Member for Lalor, Ms Joanne Ryan, MP (Australian Labor Party), who nominated Mr Mitchell, told the House that “the Member for McEwen would be the best person to follow the Member for Casey.” Ms Ryan described Mr Mitchell as “a fine local Member [with] a breadth of experience of the Australian life” and observed that he “has been a Member of the Speaker’s panel since 2012 [and] the Second Deputy Speaker for the entire term of this government.”
Seconding the motion, the Member for Cooper, Ms Ged Kearney, MP (Australian Labor Party), said that upon her arrival in the Parliament in 2018, “it became clear very early on that the Member for McEwen had an intimate knowledge of the rules of this House and how it operated.” She added that Mr Mitchell “is a good family man [and] he has enduring patience and an amazing sense of humour.”
A ballot was then held and the Clerk announced that Mr Wallace had received 70 votes and Mr Mitchell had received 59 votes. Mr Wallace was declared elected and was escorted to the Chair. He thanked the House for the honour and took the Chair. Statements of congratulations were made by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Paying tribute to his predecessor, the new Speaker said that the Member for Casey “is acknowledged by all of us as one of the very best to have ever taken this Chair.” The Speaker said the responsibilities that had been conferred on him “have a history that stretches back some eight centuries” but that “across all of those years, the heart of what it means to be a Speaker has not changed.” The Speaker said that in pursuit of those “ancient duties” he would “respect the independence of the Chair and seek to enforce the Standing Orders without fear or favour.” The Speaker concluded by telling Members that “today…the responsibility lies more heavily than ever on us as Parliamentarians to embody the very best of political debate. It is up to us to show that, whatever the global crisis or the political pressures that are brought to bear, we can discuss the challenges we face rationally and calmly.”
On 8 February 2022, the first sitting day of the new year, the Prime Minister, Hon. Scott Morrison, MP moved in the House of Representatives that an address of congratulation be presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The motion expressed “our warm congratulations at this time of celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of your accession to the Throne [and] our respect and regard for the dedication you have displayed in the service of the Commonwealth and your deep and abiding commitment to Australia and her people.” The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both spoke to the motion. Debate was then adjourned and the order of the day referred to the Federation Chamber for debate. On 9 February 2022, the Speaker reported the return of the motion, with Members rising in their places to signify their agreement.
A similar motion was moved on 8 February 2022 in the Senate by the Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Hon. Simon Birmingham (Liberal Party of Australia). Several Senators spoke to the motion, including the President of the Senate, who observed that “we join in commemorating this moment with the community of 54 nations that we know today as the Commonwealth.” The motion was then agreed to.
Dr Jeannette Young, PSM was sworn in as the 27th Governor of Queensland on 1 November 2021, succeeding Hon. Paul de Jersey, AC CVO, who had served in the role since July 2014. Prior to her appointment, Her Excellency was for sixteen years the Chief Health Officer for Queensland.
At her swearing-in, Her Excellency thanked the Premier of Queensland, Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, MP (Australian Labor Party), and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr David Crisafulli, MP (Liberal National Party). Her Excellency pledged “to be a Governor for all of Queensland, and to travel widely throughout the State, especially to Indigenous communities.”
Her Excellency is the fourth woman to serve in the role and her appointment makes Queensland the first State in Australia to have, at the same time, the positions of Premier, Chief Justice (The Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, AC) and Governor all occupied by women.
On 7 October 2021, Ms Frances Adamson, AC was sworn in as the 36th Governor of South Australia, succeeding Hon. Hieu Van Le, AC. Prior to her appointment, Her Excellency was the head of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has also been International adviser to the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff to the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister, and was Australia’s ambassador to China from 2011 to 2015.
At her swearing-in, Her Excellency thanked the Premier of South Australia, Hon. Steven Marshall, MP (Liberal Party), and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Peter Malinauskas, MP (Australian Labor Party). Her Excellency, who said she has been proud all her life to call herself a sixth generation South Australian, pledged “to uphold South Australia’s Constitution and safeguard the institutions which are vital to its sovereignty, democracy and prosperity and which give expression to our values.” Her Excellency said that she wanted Government House “to be a place where all South Australians feel welcome, including those who have to travel to be here. For the Kaurna people, after all, the banks of Karrawirra Parri have been a place of coming together for many tens of thousands of years.”
This Bill was introduced with in the Australian House of Representatives on 26 August 2021. It passed the Australian Senate on 2 December and was assented to on 7 December.
The Bill facilitates aspects of the Territories Stolen Redress Scheme (‘the Scheme’), which provides redress for stolen generations survivors who were forcibly removed as children from their families in the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory prior to their respective self-government, or from the Jervis Bay Territory. The Scheme provides to eligible participants, inter alia, a one-off redress payment in recognition of the harm caused by forced removal.
The Bill ensures that recipients of a payment are not adversely affected by it, by providing that:
The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Hon. Ken Wyatt, MP (Liberal Party of Australia) told the House that the Bill “ensures that the [redress] payment is absolutely inalienable, which…means the Commonwealth [of Australia] cannot set off the amount of the redress payment…against amounts owing to the Commonwealth [of Australia] by the participant.” The Minister added that the Bill would “support the survivor-focused and trauma-informed approach of the Scheme [and] support intergenerational healing.” The Minister added “with many stolen generations survivors being of an advanced aged and suffering life-threatening illnesses, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.”
The Member for Barton, Hon. Linda Burney, MP (Australian Labor Party), speaking in support of the Bill, told the House that it “is long overdue, and Labor hopes to see a speedy and effective implementation of this Scheme.” Ms Burney, noting that “the anguish, the plain, the dislocation, the loss and grief are all alive today”, added that “I’m sure that had my circumstances not been as they were when my great aunt and uncle took me and raised me, I could well have ended up - along with thousands of other children - as part of the stolen generations.”
Recalling the day that the Apology to the Stolen Generations was delivered in 2008, Ms Burney said that she had witnessed “one of the most generous things I have ever seen in my life…an old woman stood up and handed to Minister Macklin and to Prime Minister Rudd a glass coolamon. A coolamon is what we carried our babies in. It was just remarkable. It was gracious, and it was truly a healing moment.”
Concluding, Ms Burney said: “I implore the Minister, whom I know understands; make sure you work with stolen generations organisations, make sure information about the Scheme is available in language, make sure community organisations and health services are informed, make sure First Nations media is used, make sure that face-to-face help is available and make sure those who are making claims cannot be misled or ripped off. Accessing the scheme will be painful for many people, and we do not need to make it any harder than it already is.”
The Member for Melbourne, Mr Adam Bandt, MP (Australian Greens), while acknowledging the Bill as a “welcome step towards providing redress”, said that it was “quite basic and leave[s] a lot of detail to the regulations” and that, therefore, the Greens would be “watching closely...because we’ve seen in the past, in other areas, a gap between what gets announced and what turns up in the regulations.”
In the Australian Senate, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (Australian Labor Party), said that “in the Northern Territory, the exact number of children who were taken away may never be known, but…there are hundreds of families that have been affected.” She said that “the Scheme we have is thanks to the dedication and tenacity of advocates, community groups and survivors themselves” and she implored the government to “work closely with the community organisations and elders in the decision-making process all the way through” including through the provision of “information in languages early and on and throughout the rollout.”
Summing up, the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General and Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations, Senator Hon. Amanda Stoker (Liberal Party of Australia) thanked Senators for their “sincere and heartfelt contributions” and, acknowledging the “work of that the members of the stolen generations and their families have done in the past and that they continue to do to bring this Scheme into effect”, said that the Senate “should be honoured to be involved in this important and historic moment.”
This Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on 3 September 2020. It was referred on 1 October 2020 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), and the Committee’s report was tabled on 16 September 2021. The Bill passed the Senate on 22 November 2021 and was assented to on 8 December 2021. The Bill amends the:
The then Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Hon. Christian Porter, MP (Liberal Party of Australia) told House that the Bill “will establish an extended supervision order scheme to ensure that high-risk terrorist offenders who are released into the community at the end of their custodial sentences are subject to close supervision in proportion to the level of risk they pose to community safety.” Mr Porter explained that the ESO scheme “has been designed to allow the court to tailor orders to address the particular risk posed by each terrorist offender. The offender must comply with the conditions set by the court, and offences will apply to breaches of those conditions. The maximum duration of an extended supervision order is three years, but subsequent orders may be made if the offender continues to pose an unacceptable risk to the community.”
Mr Porter said that “as we have learnt from the appalling 2019 London Bridge and 2020 Streatham attacks in the UK, convicted terrorist offenders can pose a very real threat to the community at the conclusion of their sentence.” He observed that with several convicted offenders due to complete their custodial sentences of imprisonment in the next five years, “the need for effective risk management measures to keep our community safe is greater than ever.”
Informing the House of her support for the Bill, the Member for Cowan, Dr Anne Aly, MP (Australian Labor Party) described it as “an essential addition to the toolbox of agencies [to] ensure community safety from terrorism, especially where there is no guarantee or absolute confidence that an individual has fully deradicalised and has the supports in place to remain deradicalised.” Dr Aly observed that “all too often we have seen terrorist attacks being carried out by individuals who have already served a sentence for a terrorist offence…or who are known to security agencies” and she described how the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Vienna in November 2020 had been released from prison “despite [having been] assessed as a high-risk terrorist offender and despite [having been] assessed as holding ideologies…and intent to a commit a terrorist act.” Dr Aly noted that one of the PJCIS recommendations, which she was pleased to see that the government had accepted, was to include an independent review of risk assessment tools that evaluate the risk of re-offending for terrorist actors.
The Member for Cowper, Mr Pat Conaghan, MP (The Nationals), said that “as Australians we need to appreciate that the peaceful freedoms we currently enjoy are not given; they are hard fought and hard won and have been actively and…successfully protected in recent years.” Describing the measures as “proportionate and necessary”, Mr Conaghan said that “if we put into context the [Bill’s] amendments, for the 13 convicted offenders due to be released up until 2025 they are not…harsh or heavy-handed restrictions, particularly when we look at what’s at stake - the safety of our nation and the safety of our citizens.”
In the Senate, Senator Lidia Thorpe (Australian Greens), describing the legislation as “highly flawed”, urged her fellow Senators “not to consider this law on its own, but in the broader ecosystem in which it lives”, arguing that “this Parliament has passed over 70 counter-terrorism laws in the last 20 years. Many of these laws create really broad, extensive and often overlapping powers.”
Senator Hon. Kristina Keneally (Australian Labor Party) told the Senate that the Bill had been “strengthened and improved” by the PJCIS recommendations that had been agreed to by the government, and that the PJCIS report was “bipartisan [and] done in the national interest.” Senator Keneally thanked all Committee Members for their “diligence” and the Chair, Senator James Paterson (Liberal Party of Australia), for his “considerable work on this legislation” since his appointment.
Summing up, the Minister for Sport and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Hon. Richard Colbeck (Liberal Party of Australia) thanked Senators for their contributions, and the PJCIS for its consideration, saying that “this Bill reflects the government’s ongoing commitment to protecting the Australian community from terrorists and ensuring our law enforcement and security agencies have the powers they need to respond to the evolving threat of terrorism.”