Friday, 26th March 2021
This week we’ve seen a number of women across the political spectrum including the Premier, the Health Minister, former Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, former judges and others, speak out about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment by men in various professions.
These stories of harassment that emerged initially out of Canberra have since spilled out across the country and revealed that this behaviour is not blind to progression, age, colour or politics and has affected women in all walks of life.
Queensland has seen a record number of COVID-19 cases arrive from PNG which has coincided with a huge spike in cases from our northern neighbours. The Palaszczuk Government has responded by pausing all flights from PNG into Queensland and has raised the issue in PNG as a potential threat to Queensland and the country as a whole due to the close proximity to the more vulnerable Torres Strait community. The Federal Government has also responded with vaccines and equipment being delivered to PNG to assist the locals’ response to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
The McGowan Labor Government was overwhelmingly re-elected recently gaining an additional 13 seats and now hold 53 out 59 seats in the lower house, with the Liberals reduced to two and the National Party down to four seats. This was a huge endorsement of Premier McGowan’s handling of the pandemic as well as his Government’s efforts in keeping the WA economy going during the lockdowns. The Labor Government will also for the first time in history, have a majority in the upper house having received 24 of 36 seats. This will allow the government unrestricted power to pass a number of bills which were rejected in the previous term and will likely see them introduce legislation to reform the gerrymandered upper house election system.
Notably, Premier McGowan has given himself the Treasury portfolio which is an unusual step for a Premier to take on the workload of a heavy portfolio, but it is a sign of his confidence and central role he has and will continue to play in the fortunes of the Labor Government in Western Australia. A full list of the new cabinet is available here.
The Gutwein Liberal Government is now in minority status after the defection from the Liberal Party of the Speaker Sue Hickey who, after losing pre-selection for her seat, has announced that she will run as an independent at the next election. While Ms Hickey has confirmed she will support the government on matters of supply and confidence, this may not be enough to stop Premier Gutwein from calling an early election this year to take advantage of the popularity that incumbent governments have enjoyed during their successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next Tasmanian election is not due until May 2022 but it is unlikely Premier Gutwein will wait that long now there is a legitimate reason to go to the people asking a majority mandate.