- The royal family were snapped arriving at Buckingham Palace today for the Queen's Christmas lunch
- The annual celebration is a royal tradition and allows the monarch to catch up with extended family members
- Prince Harry was accompanied by his glamorous fiancée Meghan Markle as he swept up to the gates
- Queen took unusual step of inviting Meghan to join royal Christmas celebrations before the couple wed
Published: 07:40 EST, 20 December 2017 | Updated: 15:36 EST, 20 December 2017
It seems that Prince Harry's radiant bride-to-be Meghan Markle has been well and truly welcomed into the royal fold, after she joined the extended family at Buckingham Palace for the Queen's annual pre-Christmas lunch on Wednesday.
The actress has followed in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge – who made the guest list for the first time in 2010, as Prince William's then fiancée – in securing an invitation to the event ahead of her marriage to Prince Harry next May.
However, unlike Kate, Meghan will also join her husband-to-be at the Queen's Sandringham Estate on December 25th – an unprecedented step for someone who is yet to become an official member of the royal family.
The Duchess of Cambridge did not spend Christmas at Sandringham until she and William were man and wife.
A cherished royal tradition, the lunch at the palace provides the monarch with the opportunity to spend time with those relatives who don't join her at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk on the 25th, as well as close members of the family.
And it seems that Meghan's debut, which comes after she wowed crowds when she joined Prince Harry on a public walkabout in Nottingham following their engagement announcement, was a success – with the 36-year-old unable to wipe the smile from her face as she left the palace at around 3.30pm.
The actress was pictured smiling and flashing her dazzling engagement ring as her fiance drove her back to their home at Kensington Palace following the festive lunch.
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Bride-to-be Meghan flashed her dazzling engagement ring from the front seat of Prince Harry's Land Rover as she left the Queen's annual Christmas lunch
Today was the first time that Meghan will have met much of Harry's family, and the invitation is a further sign that she is well and truly part of the royal establishment
Following shortly behind were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with a sleepy looking Princess Charlotte in the back
Cheerful Kate gave a wave to crowds who had lined the streets outside Buckingham Palace in a hope to catch a glimpse of the royals on their departure
Be a style superhero in a Zara cape like Kate
The Cambridges were spotted at Buckingham Palace today for the Queen’s traditional Christmas lunch. With William driving his family, Kate sat upfront, whilst George and Charlotte were in the back with their nanny.
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Prince William also appeared to be in a festive mood, smiling to the crowds as he made his way back to Kensington Palace
Charlotte looked adorable in a festive red cardigan and she had her hair tied in a crimson ribbon in honour of the occasion
Prince George did away with his coat for the journey back showcasing a sweet Christmas jumper underneath
The four-year-old could be seen pulling funny faces in the back of his car under the watchful eye of his nanny Maria Borrallo
Meghan Markle is joining Prince Harry and members of the royal family for the Queen's annual Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace today
The event provides the actress with the opportunity to meet with some of Harry's more distant relatives before their wedding
Meghan is wearing a £300 dress from Self-Portrait, a brand which the Duchess of Cambridge is known to be fan
For the likes of the Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent, or his son Lord Frederick Windsor, today's lunch could well have been their first meeting with their new – and already most famous – family member.
Today marked the start of the whirlwind of events that will make up Meghan's first royal Christmas, which will also see her join her soon-to-be in-laws as they walk to the Christmas Day church service on the Sandringham Estate, and being hosted by the monarch for a turkey lunch.
On Wednesday Meghan was whisked to the palace by her Prince, who drove them to the event in a Land Rover Discovery.
The bride-to-be opted for a £300 high necked lace dress from Self-Portrait for the festive lunch, accessorised with a pair of diamond drop earrings.
Among the first to arrive at the Palace were the Cambridges, with Prince William driving, pregnant Kate in the passenger seat, and George and Charlotte in the back with their nanny, Maria Borrallo.
A roaring success? Meghan looked at ease as she departed from her first Christmas lunch with the Queen
The former Suits star was all smiles, having clearly enjoyed her afternoon at Buckingham Palace
Loved up couple! Meghan was seen chatting to her royal beau as they drove away from the palace
Meghan's dark hair was looking even more rich and glossy than ever before
Meghan opted for a glamorous beauty look today, showcasing a smokey eye and a layer of shiny lipgloss in preparation to meet new members of the royal family
Meghan appeared to be full of excitement as she headed to the palace, this being the second time she has been seen since the couple announced their engagement
Among the first to arrive today were the Cambridges, with Prince William taking the wheel while Kate took the passenger seat
Meanwhile Princess Charlotte and Prince George sat in the back with nanny Maria Borrallo
Prince George looked adorable in a navy blue wool coat as he sat patiently while travelling to his great-grandmother's home
As always, Kate's hair was coiffed to perfection, and the Duchess appeared to be wearing a faux-fur trimmed coat
Eagle eyed royal fans may be able to spot Princess Charlotte, who is wearing a red ribbon, behind the Duchess of Cambridge
And the nanny is invited too! Kate and William arrive at the Palace with trusted aide Maria Borrallo – as she takes care of George and Charlotte in the back seat
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's faithful nanny, Spanish-born Maria Borrallo, 46, was spotted next to Prince George in the rear of Prince William's royal car as they family arrived at Buckingham Palace this afternoon
Ms Borrallo first began working in the royal household in 2014, when she was employed to take care of Prince George. She trained at the prestigious Norland College
Maria Borrallo has been employed in the royal household since 2014 when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge first recruited her to look after Prince George.
Three years on, the Spanish nanny sat in the back of Prince William and Kate's royal car as they arrived at the Palace this afternoon for their seasonal lunch.
With Prince George, 4, clearly seen sitting on his booster seat, it's assumed Princess Charlotte, 2, was just out of view in the vehicle's rear.
Ms Borrallo has been a regular fixture at major royal events and has also travelled abroad with the couple. With the Cambridge brood set to expand in April when Kate gives birth to a third child, the 46-year-old's childcare remit is set to get even bigger.
Ms Borrallo trained at the prestigious Norland College which has been producing childminders for the rich and famous since 1892. The institution's students are known for their distinctive uniforms and are schooled in all aspects of looking after youngsters during their three-year degree course.
Prince Charles looked dapper in a suit as he was joined by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall in the passenger seat
Both Charles and Camilla are expected at Sandringham for Christmas but today also gives them the opportunity to see some of their more distant family
Camilla looked elegant in a forest green coat and could be seen smiling to the cameras upon her arrival at the palace
The Duchess of Cornwall was driven to Buckingham Palace for the traditional family lunch with her husband, Prince Charles
Lady Amelia Windsor, granddaughter of the Duke of Kent, was dubbed Britain's most beautiful royal by Tatler and proved herself worthy of the title this afternoon
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, drove his elegant daughter to the event accompanied by his wife Sylvana Tomaselli
Stylish couple: Prince and Princess Michael of Kent arrive in style for the Queen's Christmas lunch
Prince Charles was also in attendance on Wednesday, accompanied by his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who looked chic in a forest green jacket.
Not far behind was Princess Eugenie, who was snapped in the passenger seat of a car as she made her way to her grandmother's house.
The 27-year-old had opted for a festive red dress, which could be seen poking from beneath a navy blue coat.
A FAMILY AFFAIR! THE GUESTLIST AT THE QUEEN'S CHRISTMAS LUNCH
The Queen's annual pre-Christmas lunch is a royal tradition, and gives the monarch an opportunity to catch up with those relatives who don't join her at Sandringham over the festive period.
Closer relatives join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at her Norfolk estate from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day to enjoy traditional celebrations, including a bracing walk to church on December 25th and a turkey lunch.
For those spending the big day with their own immediate families, the annual lunch at Buckingham Palace is the perfect opportunity, and often the only opportunity in the calendar, to spend time with all of their relatives at once.
The family enjoy a three course lunch in the Buckingham Palace dining rooms before heading home in the late afternoon.
This year's guest list included….
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte and Prince George
- Prince Harry and fiance Meghan Markle
- The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
- The Princesses of York, Beatrice and Eugenie
- Sophie, The Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor
- George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews, Sylvana Tomaselli and daughters Lady Amelia and Marina Windsor
- The Duke and Duchess of Kent
- Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence
- Peter and Autumn Phillips with daughters Savannah and Isla
- Lord Frederick Windsor, Freddie and Maud Windsor
- Prince and Princess Michael of Kent with Lady Gabriella Windsor
- The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester with grandson Rufus Gilman
- Princess Alexandra
- Lord Nicholas Windsor, Lady Paola, Albert and Louis Windsor
- Viscountess Serena Linley, Charles and Margarita Armstrong-Jones
- Lady Sarah and Daniel Chatto
- Lady Helen Taylor, Timothy, Estella, Cassius, Eloise and Columbus Taylor
Princess Eugenie was among the first to arrive at the Queen's annual Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday
The Queen's granddaughter appeared to be in good spirits as she arrived at the palace
Following behind was her elder sister Princess Beatrice who gave a wave to the cameras as she made her way through palace gates
Princess Beatrice is another to regularly attend Christmas celebrations at Sandringham but looked delighted to be catching up with other relatives
For the drive back the two sisters swapped seats so that Eugenie was able to sit up front well Beatrice sat in the back
Sophie, the Countess of Wessex cut an unusually informal figure as she drove her daughter Lady Louise Windsor to the palace
Sophie could be seen wearing a denim jacket as well as a rarely seen pair of spectacles while her daughter looked festive in a red cardigan
Autumn Phillips, the wife of Peter Phillips seen at the wheel of the vehicle as one of today's earliest arrivals.
Eagle eyed royal fans may have been able to spot her daughter Isla Phillips, who appeared to be in an excitable mood ahead of Christmas.
Unusually Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, husband of Princess Anne, chose to walk to the event doing away with cars like his fellow royals.
Members of the extended family in attendance included the Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent who arrived with his daughter Lady Gabriella Windsor and his wife Princess Michael, who looked typically glamorous.
It seems there were plenty of youngsters to keep Charlotte and George company on Wednesday with Lord Frederick Windsor arriving with his two children Freddie, and Maud – who attends the same Battersea school as George.
It seems that Meghan is being well and truly welcomed into the royal family after it was confirmed that she will join them for celebrations in Sandringham over Christmas.
Princess Anne's husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence did away with a car and chose to arrive at the event on foot
Smartly dressed in a sharp suit with a crisp white shirt and a red tie, Sir Laurence, 62, clearly left some of the crowds a tad confused, with many unsure as to whether a royal would actually walk in the rain to the gates of Buckingham Palace
Princess Anne arrived separately to her husband, travel by car rather than join Laurence on the walk
The Queen's daughter was wrapped up warm in a beige coat and a blue silk scarf as she made her way to the palace
He just strolled right in! Princess Anne's husband Sir Timothy Laurence greets well-wishers as he WALKS into Buckingham Palace (and he's done it before)
Easier on foot! Princess Anne's husband retired British naval officer Mr Laurence, 62, surprised many of the tourists gathered outside Buckingham Palace this afternoon by eschewing a royal car in favour of attending on foot
Princess Anne's husband Timothy Laurence opted for the low-key approach as he arrived for the Queen's Christmas lunch this afternoon.
Eschewing a royal car, the 62-year-old Vice Admiral opted to use his own two feet to attend the lavish festive affair.
Dressed for the inclement weather in a green tweed overcoat, Laurence also donned a sharp suit with crisp white shirt and an eye-catching pillar-box red tie.
As he strode past hundreds of tourists, only a few seemed to realise there was a royal in the midst and reached for their smartphones to capture a picture.
Obviously not a fan of London traffic, the retired British naval officer Mr Laurence has taken the 'on foot' option before when attending the Queen's annual Christmas event.
The Queen's granddaughter-in-law Autumn Phillips could be seen at the wheel of the car, with eagle eyed royal fans being able to spot Isla Phillips in the back
For their return journey Peter Phillips took the wheel to drive his wife and daughter home from the lunch
Among the young arrivals was Maud Windsor, who attends the same school as distant cousin Prince George
Freddie Windsor (seen far left) Maud's younger brother appeared to have dozed off on the journey over
Lord Frederick Windsor drove his wife and daughter to the palace from their home in London on Wednesday
Lord Frederick, who is the son of the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, appeared to be in good spirits as he made the drive home
The star, 36, will spend the festive period at Her Majesty's private estate in Norfolk even though Kate Middleton was only asked after she walked down the aisle with Prince William in 2011.
The Queen's invitation to the US-born actress is further evidence of the royal family's warm welcome for her ahead of the couple's May wedding at Windsor Castle.
Meghan, who will take British citizenship and get baptised by the Church of England before the wedding, will also attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.
She and Harry, 33, who are now living together in a two-bed cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace, will also take part in the traditional walk to mass by the entire royal family.
Confirming the news today a Kensington Palace spokesman said: 'You can expect to see The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day.'
The Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent arrived with his wife Princess Michael of Kent who looked typically glamorous
Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince Michael of Kent, looked stylish in a red coat as she was driven to the palace by her parents
The Duchess of Gloucester whose husband is the Queen's cousin is a regular at the palace lunch
Another of the Queen's cousins Princess Alexandra appeared to be in a good mood as she made her way to the lunch
Lord Nicholas Windsor, the son of the Duke of Kent, was unusual in taking a taxi to the event on Wednesday accompanied by his son Albert
The wife of Lord Nicholas, Lady Paola, (left) was pictured holding their youngest son Louis in the back of the taxi
Albert Windsor, 10, the eighth grandchild of the Duke and Duchess of Kent arriving with his family
Viscountess Serena Linley was behind the wheel driving her teenage son Charles Armstrong-Jones to the festive lunch
Margarita Armstrong-Jones sat in the back who at 15, has appeared to have already inherited her mother, Viscountess Serena Linley's, elegance
The Duke and Duchess of Kent were joined by granddaughter Marina Windsor for their journey to Buckingham Palace
Daniel Chatto wrapped up warm as he drove the Queen's niece Lady Sarah Chatto to the much anticipated event
The Duke of Kent's daughter, Lady Helen Taylor, was accompanied by her whole family including husband Timothy Taylor, and two children Estella, Cassius, Eloise and Columbus Taylor
The Duke of Gloucester sat with his grandson Rufus who paid tribute to the Queen by clutching a corgi stuffed toy
Meghan's attendance today comes just a few days before she heads to Sandringham in Norfolk where she will spend Christmas with the royal family
Meghan looked preened to perfection for her visit to the palace while Harry looked dapper in a suit and tie
Maria Borrallo has been working for the Cambridges for three years and is often on hand to provide assistance at family events
Kate wore a festive fur stole over a black wool jacket as she joined her family for the early Christmas celebrations
The post Meghan Markle joins royals for the Queen's Christmas lunch appeared first on News Wire Now.
Saudi women in Sydney: Sisters’ bodies lay undiscovered for a month
Australian police are baffled after the bodies of two Saudi women, believed to have lain undiscovered for a month, were found in a Sydney apartment.
Sisters Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were found dead on 7 June in separate beds at home in the suburb of Canterbury.
Police, who were called to the property for a welfare check, said the women are believed to have died in early May.
But despite “extensive inquiries”, they still do not know how or why.
The sisters moved to Australia from Saudi Arabia in 2017 and may have sought asylum, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Police refused to confirm this, saying they do not comment on residential status.
A human rights organisation said it should be established whether the women fled Saudi Arabia because of domestic violence or harsh laws governing women. However, there is no evidence this is the case.
Police said they had been in contact with the women’s family, which is assisting them with inquiries.
Lina al-Hathloul, head of monitoring and communications at Saudi human rights organisation ALQST, said it “would not be the first case” of Saudi women who were killed abroad after fleeing domestic violence.
“There are no protections for women who are victims of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, so they flee abroad,” she told the BBC.
She added: “I’m not saying that is the case here, just that we need a thorough investigation. It is frustrating not to have any information.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there had been signs that something was wrong.
Last year, the women told their building manager they thought someone was tampering with their food deliveries, the paper reported.
A plumber who visited the apartment also said he believed there was “something mysterious” going on, and that police had been called in the past over concerns for the women.
New South Wales Police issued a renewed plea to the public on Wednesday, saying “any piece of information” could be the key to solving this case.
The local community is close-knit, police said in a statement, asking anyone who may have known or seen the women to come forward.
A report from Australian current affairs programme Four Corners in 2019 found 80 Saudi women had tried to seek asylum in Australia in recent years. Many of them were fleeing male guardianship laws.
Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?
With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.
Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.
The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.
Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.
It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.
Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.
Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.
“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.
Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.
“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.
“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”
An insiders’ game
At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.
Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.
But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.
“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.
The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.
Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.
“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.
So why hasn’t Australia changed?
Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.
Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.
Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.
But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.
Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.
His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.
Party seniors argued that Ms Kenneally and Mr Charlton – as popular and respected party figures – would be able to promote their electorates’ concerns better than newcomers.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese also hailed Ms Kenneally as a “great Australian success story” as a migrant from the US herself.
But Mr Chiu says: “A lot of the frustration that people expressed wasn’t about these specific individuals.
“It was about the fact that these were two of the most multicultural seats in Australia and these opportunities – which come by so rarely – to select culturally diverse candidates were squandered.”
He adds this has long-term effects because the average MP stays in office for about 10 years.
The frustration on this issue has centred on Labor – because the centre-left party calls itself the “party of multiculturalism”.
But the Liberal-National government doesn’t even have diversity as a platform issue.
One of its MPs up for re-election recently appeared to confuse her Labor rival for Tu Le, sparking accusations that she’d mixed up the two Asian-Australian women – something she later denied. But as one opponent said: “How is this still happening in 2022?”
Some experts like Dr Soutphommasane have concluded that Australia’s complacency on areas like representation stems from how the nation embraced multiculturalism as official policy after its White Australia days.
The government of the 1970s, somewhat embarrassed by the past policy, passed racial discrimination laws and “a seat at the table” was granted to migrants and Indigenous Australians.
But critics say this has led to an Australia where multiculturalism is celebrated but racial inequality is not interrogated.
“Multiculturalism is almost apolitical in how it’s viewed in Australia,” Dr Soutphommasane says, in contrast to the “fight” for rights that other Western countries have seen from minority groups.
What is the impact?
A lack of representation in parliament can also lead to failures in policy.
During Sydney’s Covid outbreak in August 2021, Fowler and Parramatta electorates – where most of the city’s multicultural communities reside – were subject to harsher lockdowns as a result of a higher number of cases.
How will things change?
Liberal MP Dave Sharma, the only lawmaker of Indian heritage, has said all parties – including his own – should better recruit people with different backgrounds. He called it a “pretty laissez-faire attitude” currently.
Mr Albanese has urged Ms Le to “hang in there”, insisting she has a future.
But more people like Ms Le are choosing to speak out.
“I think I surprised a lot of people by not staying quiet,” she told the BBC.
“People acted like it was the end of my political career that I didn’t toe the party line. But… none of that means anything to me if it means I’m sacrificing my own values.”
She and other second-generation Australians – raised in a country which prides itself on “a fair go” – are agitating for the rights and access their migrant parents may not have felt entitled to.
“Many of those from diverse backgrounds were saying they felt like they didn’t have a voice – and that my case was a clear demonstration of their suppression, and their wider participation in our political system.”
She and others have noted the “growing distrust” in the major parties. Polls are predicting record voter support for independent candidates.
“This issue…. matters for everyone in Australian society that cares about democracy,” says Mr Soutphommasane.
“If democratic institutions are not representative, their legitimacy will suffer.
Scott Morrison effectively ditches his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption commission
Scott Morrison has effectively abandoned his promise to establish a federal anti-corruption watchdog, confirming he would only proceed with legislation in the new parliament if Labor agreed to pass the Coalition’s heavily criticised proposal without amendments.
Morrison pledged before the 2019 election to legislate a federal integrity body in the parliamentary term that has just ended. The prime minister broke that promise, failing to introduce his own proposal before the 46th parliament was prorogued.
On the hustings on Wednesday, Morrison was asked – given his previous undertaking to create the body – whether he would promise to put his proposal to a vote in the next parliament in the event the Coalition won the 21 May election.
Morrison declined to make that promise. “Our position on this hasn’t changed,” the prime minister said. “Our view has been the same – when the Labor party is prepared to support that legislation in that form, then we will proceed with it.”
The prime minister has attempted to inoculate himself from criticism about breaking an election promise by saying he tabled the integrity commission proposal in the parliament.
Tabling an exposure draft, which is what the prime minister did, is not the same as introducing finished legislation to the House of Representatives or the Senate that is then debated and voted on.
As well as repeatedly fudging what happened in parliament, Morrison has also created the impression the proposal can only proceed if Labor agrees to its passage without amendments.
All governments routinely introduce legislation for debate without any undertaking that it will be passed by the opposition. Labor favours a stronger model than the Coalition’s proposal.
Morrison’s lack of urgency on the issue created tensions within government ranks. Late last year, the Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer crossed the floor to support independent MP Helen Haines’ bill to establish a federal integrity commission. Archer accused the government of “inertia” over the issue.
At that time, Archer said she was “perplexed” at her own government’s failure to release a revised bill almost three years after it was promised before the last election.
While Morrison clearly wants to move on from the issue, he will face renewed pressure from crossbench independents if the coming election is close enough to deliver a hung parliament.
A number of independents running against Liberals in metropolitan seats have made it clear that establishing a credible national integrity commission will be a key demand in the event any new government – Liberal or Labor – is seeking agreements for confidence and supply.
Haines blasted Morrison’s comments on Wednesday. “Mr Morrison broke an election promise to introduce an anti-corruption commission and his pathway to creating one is still as vague as it was in the last parliament,” she said.
The crossbench independent said it was “nonsense” for the prime minister to claim that he could not proceed unless Labor agreed with the Coalition’s proposal without seeking any amendments. “It would appear we are in the same void as we were before,” Haines said.
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