Australia: LNP official found in contempt over abortion vote threat to own MPs - PressFrom - Australia

AustraliaLNP official found in contempt over abortion vote threat to own MPs

08:00  12 june  2019
08:00  12 june  2019 Source:

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In a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the government was found in contempt of parliament for refusing to release its full legal advice on the MPs had earlier rejected a government amendment to the motion, which asked for the parliament’s Committee of Privileges to examine whether ministers

"The ayes to the right: 311, the noes to the left: 293" This is the moment MPs voted to find Conservatives government in contempt of Parliament over legal

LNP official found in contempt over abortion vote threat to own MPs© Dan Peled/AAP Former LNP leader Tim Nicholls was one of three MPs to be threatened with disendorsement.

An email threatening disendorsement sent to Liberal National Party MPs before they voted to decriminalise abortion has been found to be a contempt of the Queensland Parliament.

However, there will be no punishment meted out following the ruling from the Parliament's powerful ethics committee.

With both the major parties allowing a conscience vote, three LNP members - Tim Nicholls, Jann Stuckey and Steve Minnikin - voted against the majority of their party colleagues in supporting the bill on the night of October 17, 2018.

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“Today’s finding of contempt is a badge of shame for this government. It is of huge constitutional and political “Never before has the House of Commons found ministers in contempt of parliament.” So many MPs - from May’s own Conservatives as well as from the opposition parties - have spoken out

MPs have voted for the government to disclose its legal advice over Brexit by 311 to 293. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said there would be an announcement on Wednesday about the timing of the release, after Speaker John Bercow said it would be "unimaginable" for this not to happen ahead of

However, on the eve of the vote, LNP Pine Rivers state electoral council (SEC) secretary Patrick Collins emailed the electorate offices of all LNP MPs about a motion which had passed unanimously at one of their meetings.

The resolution said: "Like all LNP members we believe our elected representatives must abide by our party's values at all times. The Pine Rivers SEC calls on the State Council to dis-endorse elected members of the LNP who support the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018."

Pine Rivers Labor MP Nikki Boyd wrote to Speaker Curtis Pitt to complain the email amounted to contempt because it attempted to intimidate LNP members and disadvantage them based on how they acted in Parliament.

"The motion passed by the LNP Pine Rivers SEC must be viewed in the context of comments made recently by Mr Gary Spence, the state president of the LNP," Ms Boyd stated.

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First, the government was found in contempt of parliament, in a historic move, over the refusal to publish the full Brexit legal advice. Ministers said it would be produced tomorrow. Then the government lost a vote over an amendment that would give MPs the chance to vote on a plan B if May’s Brexit

MPs had already rejected a government compromise on the legal advice, under which the issue No British government has suffered a worse day at the hands of MPs for 40 years. The unprecedented contempt vote was prompted by the government's refusal to publish the legal advice on May's Brexit

"At a LNP party room meeting [in] September 2018, Mr Spence told LNP members they could be putting themselves at risk of having their preselection to run again at the October 2020 state election overturned by the LNP state council."

Mr Collins apologised and said he was not threatening, instead merely informing LNP politicians about the motion and that he had requested a debate at the next state council.

But Mr Pitt referred the issue to the ethics committee, which has the power to force apologies, issue fines and order time in jail for acts of contempt.

The ethics committee found Mr Patrick committed contempt of Parliament, his email threatened MPs and was an attempt to "improperly interfere with the freedom of members of the Parliament to perform their duties".

But the committee decided to take no further action, stating the conduct fell at the lower end of the spectrum.

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If the committee finds them in contempt , a vote could then take place in the full, Democratic-led House. The panel's Democrats said they scheduled the contempt vote after both Ross and Barr did not produce documents about the issue in response to a bipartisan subpoena the panel issued more

MPs debate question of contempt over Brexit legal advice – Politics live. With the prime minister’s challenge in winning next week’s vote looking all but insurmountable, MPs in the deeply divided Commons are increasingly concerned about what happens next.

In its report, the ethics committee said on one view, internal party machinations could involve political pressure on MPs to vote a particular way.

"On another view, it is an extraordinary act for a body outside of the Parliament to seek to influence members' votes in the House by way of threats of disendorsement from the party, when the parliamentary party had announced to the public its decision to allow its members to vote in the House according to their conscience, and not be bound to a party position," it wrote.

However, the ethics committee noted Mr Colllins' apology and his "layman's understanding of the political process" as he had only recently taken over as secretary of the Pine Rivers SEC, which indicated he was unaware his behaviour could be viewed as an attempt to intimidate MPs.

At last year's LNP state convention, party members voted to reject any attempts to change existing abortion legislation in Queensland, with almost every person in the room supporting the resolution, although the decision was not binding on the parliamentary team.

Mr Nicholls is also the current deputy chair of the ethics committee.

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill removes the procedure from the Criminal Code, allows abortion on request up to 22 weeks and introduces safe access zones of 150 metres around clinics to shield women from harassment.

It also allows abortion after 22 weeks with consent from two doctors, and requires conscientious objectors to refer women to a medical practitioner who will perform a termination.

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