Minister, crossbencher face court referral

Cabinet minister Fiona Nash and key crossbencher Nick Xenophon will be referred to the High Court over their dual citizenship as parliament begins what’s expected to be a fiery fortnight of sittings.


The pair will join five others, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, under scrutiny over their eligibility to sit in parliament.

Another senator, independent Derryn Hinch, is awaiting advice on whether his US social security card disqualifies him.

That advice could result in him standing up in the Senate on Monday and asking he be referred to the court.

Senate President Stephen Parry is also expected on Monday to make a statement on One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s burqa-wearing stunt and refer the issue of a dress code to the procedures committee.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who heads to the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa at the end of next week, will take a “business as usual” approach – talking up action on power prices and job delivery.

The government hopes to make progress on media reforms despite Labor saying they are no longer needed, given the CBS purchase of Network Ten.

“It is certainly the government’s intention to put media law reform to the Senate in the next fortnight,” cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said on Friday.

Welfare reforms and an overhaul of citizenship rules are also on the agenda alongside workplace law changes and new university funding arrangements.

The Senate will receive inquiry reports on the citizenship and welfare changes on Monday, which will inform debate on amendments.

In the lower house on Monday, a private member’s debate will be held on renewable energy, coal seam gas and guaranteeing mobile phone services in bushfire zones.

A wildcard for the sitting week will be the High Court’s hearing of a challenge on Tuesday against the same-sex marriage postal survey.

If marriage equality advocates succeed in stopping the survey, there’s likely to be furious debate in parliament and party rooms about the next step.

However, if it’s found to be within the government’s power to run the survey, forms will start hitting mailboxes soon after September 12.