Senate woes won’t go away for the Turnbull government

The Senate and its denizens will occupy the government in the coming week of federal parliament.

Legal action against two senators is set to dominate politics and the fallout complicates crossbench equations on key pieces of legislation.

Family First senator Bob Day has resigned to deal with his construction company collapse, and the government has revealed legal advice casting a cloud over both his and One Nation senator Rod Culleton’s election.

The Senate will on Monday decide whether to refer Mr Day and Senator Culleton to the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns.

And while the Senate chaos is causing big headaches for the government, at least the Australian public is getting a laugh out of it thanks to the latest computer mash-up parody, What’s Up Rod, from the ABC’s Walkley Award-winning video editor Huw Parkinson.

Watch above What’s Up Rod here:

Mr Culleton’s doorstop declarations from last week on his impending High Court appearance are inserted into the 1972 Barbara Striesand, Ryan O’Neill comedy What’s up Doc – and somehow it work’s seamlessly.

Previous mash-ups from Mr Parkinson include Presidential Avengers: Uncivil War,  Kindergarten Cop and the 45th Parliament of AustraliaSeinfeld in Parliament and Winter is Trumping, which gained worldwide attention from fans of both US politics and Game of Thrones. 

Plebiscite uncertainty

The cloud hanging over the two crossbench spots, meanwhile, changes dynamics as the government pushes ahead with its same-sex marriage plebiscite legislation and delays a pair of industrial relations bills.

The government insists it doesn’t know what will happen to the plebiscite bill, even though the numbers appear set against it.

“When you’re in politics, lots of people make predictions,” Liberal MP Tim Wilson told ABC TV on Sunday.

“But until the final vote is counted … in the Senate you can’t make any prediction.”

Conversely, it has pulled legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and a registered organisations watchdog – the bills used to trigger the double dissolution election – because it doesn’t believe the Senate support is there yet.

Mr Wilson said it was doubtful those bills would go to the Senate before the end of the year.

Why the double dissolution?

“Why did we have a double-dissolution election?”Opposition leader Bill Shorten asked on Sunday.

Malcolm Turnbull said the $50 billion tax cut for large companies and the industrial relations legislation were the big reasons to vote Liberal at the last election,”Mr Shorten tol ABC’s Insiders. “We see no sign of them advancing either of these matters now.

bill shorten

Mr Shorten was not enthusiastic about the govermment’s proposed refugee legislation

“It has been four months since the election. In terms of the Senate, what happens there is anybody’s guess,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for malfeasance in the construction unions but we also know this ABCC doesn’t have criminal powers and that we would think the Government would be better advised looking at our sensible proposals.”

The government is also set to introduce legislation for a lifetime Australian visa ban on asylum seekers on offshore immigration centres.

Labor is scrutinising the draft bill and will decide its position in a caucus meeting on Tuesday, but Mr Shorten’s response makes support seem unlikely.

“We received the legislation late Friday afternoon. In classic Turnbull government style they said it was a giant issue a week ago, then rush around the legislation a week later,” he said.

“We will take it through the caucus processes, but certainly on its face, the idea you will deter people smugglers by saying a genuine refugee who becomes a citizen of another country couldn’t visit Australia in 2056 – it’s just ridiculous, Barrie [Cassidy].

Indonesian president Joko Widodo had been due to address parliament on Monday morning but cancelled his visit to deal after a protest in Jakarta spiralled into violence.

– with AAP

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