Gichuhi to be ‘conciliatory’ in Senate

Labor has lost a last-minute bid to stop Kenyan-born lawyer Lucy Gichuhi being formally declared as South Australia’s new senator.

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Labor wanted the declaration delayed so it could argue issues about Ms Gichuhi’s Kenyan citizenship meant she was not eligible to take the vacancy created after Bob Day was ruled ineligible to stand at last year’s federal election.

But the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, said the challenge from former Labor senator Anne McEwen came too late.

Justice Geoffrey Nettle refused Labor’s application on Wednesday, saying issues about Ms Gichuhi’s Kenyan citizenship had been referred to during court hearings over the last three months.

“There has been nothing at all since at least January of this year precluding Ms McEwen from forming the basis of her application or from assembling expert material with which to support it,” Justice Nettle said.

He said it was incumbent on Ms McEwen to arm herself with that information within a reasonable time and she had not done so.

Ms Gichuhi became an Australian citizen in July 2001 after migrating from Kenya in 1999.

Ms McEwen’s barrister Jeremy Kirk SC said there were questions about whether Ms Gichuhi retained Kenyan citizenship despite becoming an Australian citizen, and if so, if she took reasonable steps to renounce it.

They were matters of Kenyan and Australian law respectively.

Mr Kirk said the issue only truly arose after the court ruled Mr Day ineligible and Ms Gichuhi won last Thursday’s special recount of votes.

He had argued the court should not declare Ms Gichuhi, a Family First candidate like Mr Day, duly elected given the real questions about her eligibility.

Mr Kirk said without considering the issue of Ms Gichuhi’s eligibility, the court’s declaration could be called into question.

Commonwealth solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue QC said while the special count only took place last Thursday, it had long been foreseeable that if Mr Day was ruled ineligible his replacement would likely be Ms Gichuhi.

Ms Gichuhi had declared she became an Australian citizen in 2001 and was eligible to be elected as a senator, he said.

Mr Donaghue said under the Kenyan constitution, a person ceased to be a citizen if they were aged over 21 and voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country.

“On the material presently available it is difficult to see how there is an issue,” Mr Donaghue said.

The Kenyan High Commission had also provided a letter stating that Ms Gichuhi was not regarded as a Kenyan citizen, he said.

Acting shadow attorney-general Katy Gallagher had said Labor had believed there were legitimate questions to be answered in making its application.

“This is not about Ms Gichuhi, this is about the integrity of the Senate and the electoral system,” she said before the court hearing.

“It is incredibly important that the validity of each senator’s election is beyond question.”

It is understood Labor believes it now has no practical option for continuing the legal challenge.

May calls snap election in Britain over Brexit negotiations

Throughout her previous 279 days in office, British Prime Minister Theresa May had rejected the idea of an early election, saying it would be a distraction.

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Now, she’s told British voters, she has changed her mind.

“I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister, I have said that there should be no election until 2020. But, now, I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.”

Ms May holds a commanding lead in opinion polls and hopes to turn it into the greater parliamentary majority she says she needs to strengthen the country’s Brexit negotiating position.

She says the election is needed to reduce the obstacles she faces within parliament.

“The Liberal Democrats have said they want grind the business of government to a standstill. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe, because the Government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.”

The Opposition remains in disarray after the Brexit vote, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he sees the election is an opportunity to offer a different view on how to run the country.

He plans to focus on areas like the National Health Service.

“I welcome the opportunity, for us, to put the case to the people of Britain to stand up against this Government and its failed economic agenda, which has left our NHS in problems, which has left our schools underfunded, which has left so many people uncertain. We want to put a case out there, for the people of Britain, of a society that cares for all, an economy that works for all and a Brexit that works for all.”

The country has already experienced two historic referendums — one on Brexit, one on Scottish independence — and the resignation of a prime minister in recent times.

An early election would be the fourth big vote in four years.

These British voters have told the BBC they are disgusted.

“You’re joking. Not another one! Oh, for God’s sake, I can’t … honestly, I can’t stand it. There is too much politics going on at the moment. Why does she need to do it?”

“It would be nice if there was some sort of clarity over what is going on. There’s a lot of muddled information out there.”

“I found Brexit so disheartening, and anything that would reverse that, from my point of view, would be really good. But I can’t see that a general election would do that.”

“Hopefully, it will be stronger, yes. But I wish she’d get on with it. Just get us out and finish with it.”

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says she will use the election to make the case Scotland should be allowed to choose its own future amid the exit from the European Union.

She says it is hypocritical that Theresa May called an early poll after rejecting calls for another referendum on Scottish independence because the focus was on Brexit negotiations.

“Clearly, she sees the opportunity, given the total disarray in the ranks of the Labour Party, to crush all opposition to her, to get rid of people that disagree with her, and to give herself a free hand to take the country in the increasingly right-wing direction that she wants to take it in. And that would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit, but more austerity and deeper cuts. So, now’s the time for Scotland’s voice to be heard and for people in Scotland to stand up for the kind of country we want Scotland to be.”

The British election in June will now join a French election starting with a first round this weekend and Germany’s election in September.

All of that is expected to affect Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, with negotiations likely to start in earnest in June.

European leaders have expressed surprise at the election announcement.

European Union council president Donald Tusk likened the move to a plot twist in a film by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel says he hopes the elections will lead to more clarity and predictability in the EU negotiations.

 

 

Lucy Gichuhi wards off citizenship challenge and will join Senate crossbench

Kenyan-born lawyer Lucy Gichuhi will be sworn in as an Australian senator when parliament resumes, a full bench of the High Court has confirmed.

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Ms Gichuhi was elected in a recount of South Australian Senate votes after the court ruled her Family First predecessor Bob Day was invalidly elected under the Constitution. 

Ms Gichuhi was listed as Family First’s second candidate on the ballot paper in the 2016 election. 

Speaking in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Gichuhi said she was humbled to represent South Australians.

“I could not have imagined that nearly 20 years ago that as a new Australian I would one day have the opportunity to serve this nation as a senator,” she told reporters. 

Ms Gichuhi said Australian politics was polarised and she would bring a “conciliatory” approach.

“While my values will never change, my approach to matters before the Senate will be to take the best possible advice from all corners before finalising a position,” she said.

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The court had been considering a late challenge by Labor that sought to challenge Ms Gichuhi’s eligibility on the grounds that she might still hold a Kenyan citizenship, saying “the last thing the country needs is a re-run of the Bob Day disaster”.

Dual-citizens are not allowed to become senators. 

But the court rejected that challenge. 

The Commonwealth’s lawyer, Stephen Donaghue, said Kenyan law automatically invalidated once a person was over 21 years old and had taken up citizenship in another country, according to the ABC. Ms Gichuhi arrived in Australia in 1999. 

In an interview with SBS earlier this month, Ms Gichuhi said she would “love to serve” as a senator, and planned to “bring a bit of a difference”. 

She said she wanted to be an example to growing migrant communities in South Australia that “you can be truly Australian, and feel Australian, and be Australian, and act like an Australian.” 

“I’m Australian, for the last 20 years, So that is what I’m talking about. I need to…feel and act like an Australian because I’m here for the long haul,” she said.

“And so are so many people who have come here, from whichever part of the world. It doesn’t have to be Africa.”

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The Turnbull Government found a reliable crossbench ally in Bob Day, who generally voted in favour of Coalition legislation.

Ms Gichuhi said she “learnt a lot” from Senator Day, but would not be drawn on whether she would be likely to support government bills. 

Introducing Lucy Gichuhi

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“That’s not something I can say a ‘yes’ to or a ‘no’ to,” she said.

“I would just be independent-minded and review situations and legislation as they come.” 

The Attorney-General has confirmed the new South Australian senator will be formally sworn in when parliament resumes for the Budget on May 9.

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England captain Hartley set to miss out on Lions spot

Local media reported widely that Hartley had missed out and that Jamie George, his England understudy, would join Ireland’s Rory Best and Welshman Ken Owens in the battle for the hooker’s jersey on the 10-game tour.

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The news will be a huge blow for Hartley, who was selected in the initial squad for the Australia tour four years ago but then missed out after being banned for abusing the referee in the Premiership final.

Hartley, who has led England to successive Six Nations titles, would become the third successive England captain to miss out on Lions selection following Chris Robshaw and Steve Borthwick, who is now the Lions forwards coach.

Instead, Hartley will captain England on their two-test tour of Argentina, where he is likely to be accompanied by centre Jonathan Joseph, another surprise omission.

Gatland is expected to include up to 15 Englishmen, including Jack Nowell, who has struggled to nail down a starting spot under Eddie Jones, and Ben Te’o, the rugby league convert who has started one test in union but won a further seven as a replacement.

All-action prop Kyle Sinckler, who has yet to start a test for England, is also set to travel, as is versatile back Elliot Daly.

The inclusion of the muscular Te’o is an indication of how Gatland sees the Lions can get to the All Blacks with an all-power game. Such a philosophy would also explain the suggested surprise inclusion of Jamie Roberts, despite the crash-ball specialist centre losing his place in the Wales team.

Sam ­Warburton is set to be named captain for the second time, despite losing the Wales captaincy to Alun Wyn Jones, who is also set to be included in a strong group of locks.

The squad also looks particularly blessed in the back row, where Billy Vunipola, Sean O’Brien, CJ Stander and Taulupe Faletau look certainties.

There will be little in the squad to celebrate for Scotland, with fullback Stuart Hogg the only certainty and possibly only two others included, despite the Scots beating Wales and Ireland in this year’s Six Nations.

The last Scot to start a Lions test was prop Tom Smith in 2001.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Ethical fashion report finds major Australian brands need to ‘lift their game’

The 2017 Ethical Fashion Report graded 106 apparel companies that sell their products in Australia, comprising 330 brands, from A to F.

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The Baptist World Aid annual report card shows that some outfits such as Cotton On Group and Kmart have made progress, but nearly three-quarters of the companies that scored a D+ or worse are headquartered in Australia.

The 2017 report praised multinationals Patagonia and Zara for their practices with both scoring an A grade.

It showed only three of the 15 brands that scored an A or higher were headquartered in Australia, and they were niche ethical producers.

“For Australia to stay competitive in the ethical backing space, they’re going to have to lift their game,” Baptist World Aid spokesman Gershon Nimbalker told AAP.

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The research showed steady progress towards paying workers a living wage to cover the basics such as food, water and clothing.

In 2013, only 11 per cent of companies were investing towards better wages, but the 2017 results showed 42 per cent were heading in the right direction.

Mighty Good Undies was the only company that could prove it paid all workers a living wage.

The report also showed more than three-quarters of the companies traced their manufacturing suppliers in the final stage of supply, but Mr Nimbalker said the risk of worker exploitation remained deeper into the chain.

“If companies don’t know or don’t care who their suppliers are, there’s virtually no way for them to ensure workers’ rights are being upheld throughout their supply chains,” he said.

“We think it’s critical that they know all their suppliers.”

Only seven per cent of companies knew where their cotton was coming from.

Many companies, including Big W, Cotton On Group, Esprit, Jeanswest and RM Williams, have begun publishing full supplier lists.

Twenty-six per cent of businesses now make that information available, up from 16 per cent in 2016.

Mr Nimbalker said companies were acknowledging they had to be transparent to build trust with the public.

“We really want them (consumers) to vote with their wallets and preference those companies that are doing more to ensure workers are protected,” he said.

Watch: Dateline’s Fashion victims?

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FINDINGS ON FASHION COMPANIES:

 26 per cent publish a supplier list72 per cent rating ‘D’ grading or lower headquartered in Australia81 per cent trace fabric suppliersHighest marks: Adidas Group, APG & Co, Cotton On Group, Etiko, Freeset, Inditex, Kowtow, Liminal Apparel, Mighty Good Undies, Nudie Jeans, Pacific Brands, Patagonia, RREPPLowest marks: Ally Fashion, Betts, Decjuba, Farmers, Oxford, Roger David, Wish – all non-responsive

Source: Baptist World Aid Australia