The year that was in federal politics

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)



31 – The government is embarrassed by sensitive cabinet documents found in second-hand filing cabinets bought at a Canberra auction.


1 – Victorian Labor MP David Feeney quits parliament over citizenship issues, triggering the Batman by-election.

6 – The Daily Telegraph reveals Barnaby Joyce’s former media adviser Vikki Campion is pregnant with his child.

13 – PM Malcolm Turnbull says there is “zero” chance of agreement on an indigenous representative body, as parliament marks the 10th anniversary of the Apology.

23 – Barnaby Joyce quits the leadership, citing a sexual harassment complaint by former WA Rural Woman of the Year Catherine Marriott as the “last straw”. An inquiry later fails to substantiate the claim.

26 – Michael McCormack becomes Nationals leader.


3 – The Liberals are re-elected in Tasmania.

8 – Australia and the other 10 nations, minus the US, sign a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

13 – Labor proposes ending the practice of allowing investors to claim tax imputations from dividends, but says two weeks later pensioners are exempt after a backlash from retirees.

17 – The Liberals win government in South Australia for the first time in 16 years.

17 – Labor’s Ged Kearney wins the Batman by-election.

26 – AAP reveals Peter Dutton used his powers of discretion as home affairs minister to grant visas on public interest grounds to two au pairs in 2015.


6 – Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announces a review of live export standards after seeing shocking sheep footage.

9 – PM Malcolm Turnbull loses his 30th Newspoll, the test used to depose his predecessor Tony Abbott.

26 – The Turnbull government abandons the Medicare levy hike to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with support from Labor.


2 – Labor rising star Tim Hammond quits parliament to spend more time with his family.

8 – Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers his fifth budget, headlined by personal income tax cuts.

9 – The High Court rules Katy Gallagher ineligible to sit in parliament over dual citizenship, triggering the resignation of four MPs. Labor’s Justine Keay, Susan Lamb and Josh Wilson, and Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie announce they will contest by-elections, which they win.

10 – Bill Shorten announces bigger personal tax cuts in his budget reply speech.


3 – Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion give a tell-all television interview in exchange for $150,000.

14 – One Nation’s NSW senator Brian Burston quits the party. Burston then joins Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

19 – The $3.8 billion national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors passes parliament.

28 – Company tax cuts are shelved after the government fails to win support in the Senate.


5 – A new formula for GST distribution is announced.

28 – Super Saturday of by-elections.


5 – The government announces a drought aid package worth $190 million.

8 – Labor MP Emma Husar announces she won’t contest the next federal election after weeks of claims she bullied staff. She is later cleared of sexual harassment allegations but not of bullying.

20 – Malcolm Turnbull retreats from plans to legislate climate change targets through the National Energy Guarantee.

21- Malcolm Turnbull spills the leadership of the Liberal Party. He wins by a small margin of 48-35.

22 – Peter Dutton’s eligibility for parliament is questioned over his child care centre interests.

23 – The Senate refers the Dutton au pair matter to a parliamentary inquiry.

24 – Scott Morrison becomes Australia’s 30th prime minister, defeating Peter Dutton. Josh Frydenberg defeats Greg Hunt for the deputy leadership, becoming treasurer.

31 – Malcolm Turnbull resigns from parliament, triggering the Wentworth by-election.


16 – Scott Morrison announces a royal commission into aged care.

17 – Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis announces she’s quitting parliament, blaming “bullying” branch stackers.

20 – Scott Morrison strikes a $4.6 billion peace deal with Catholic and independent schools.

24 – ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is sacked. Chairman Justin Milne resigns three days later.

26 – Scott Morrison rejects the idea of an indigenous voice to parliament, claiming it would be a third chamber.


15 – Scott Morrison reveals he is considering moving Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

16 – The government makes an embarrassing backdown after senators voted in favour of Pauline Hanson’s “it’s OK to be white” motion.

20 – Liberals’ Dave Sharma loses the Wentworth by-election to independent Kerryn Phelps.

22 – The government make a national apology to victims of institutional child sex abuse.


13 – Scott Morrison faces his first major foreign policy test, attending global leaders summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

24 -Labor’s Daniel Andrews wins the Victorian state election.

26 – Julia Banks quits the Liberal Party to sit as an independent, bagging her party’s right faction. The government announces an April 2 budget will be in surplus, with an election to follow in May.


2- Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young says there should be a strict code of conduct “with consequences” to deter sexualised bullying in federal parliament.

6- Scott Morrison says Australia would now recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv, thereby backtracking on part of his Wentworth byelection promise.

17- Nationals MP Andrew Broad, who represents the Victorian seat of Mallee, stands down as an assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack after questions were raised about his private life.

18- Broad decides not to recontest his seat and agrees to repay $479.62 for two taxpayer-funded domestic flights after it was revealed they were part of a trip to Hong Kong where the married MP had dinner with a younger woman he met online.



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