Prices in Wallasey, on the Wirral, are soaring in a nationwide boom fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, but will it last?
Homebuyers are scrambling for houses in Britain’s latest property hotspot – on the tip of the Wirral peninsula.
The Merseyside town of Wallasey has over the past year recorded a bigger rise in asking prices than any town or city in Britain, according to the listings site Rightmove. And it’s family homes with gardens – a popular choice during lockdown – that have become must-have assets.
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While the New South Wales government went to war over koalas this week, the SA government watched one of its own go rogue, resulting in “white-hot anger” from some MPs, while votes were tied in both houses.
It’s the first time since 1979 that the SA Government of the day hasn’t had Parliament support its pick for a presiding role
John Dawkins won the presidency after having his name drawn from a box, before being booted from the Liberal Party
Labor broke with convention by not attending a swearing-in ceremony for new Speaker Josh Teague
It’s a week the Marshall-Liberal government will be looking to put behind it, and one few will forget.
What happened this week?
The resumption of Parliament after the winter break is usually a time for the government to reassess its policy direction and set its priorities for the remainder of the year.
If a reset is what the government was after, it got an almighty one.
Shuffling portfolios around after three ministers resigned amid the expenses scandal, exposed by the ABC, meant there were two positions yet to be filled — the Upper House President and the Lower House Speaker.
Usually these appointments are procedural, with the opposition and cross-benchers supporting the government’s chosen nominee.
But this time was different.
The government’s nominee for President, Jing Lee, had a challenger.
Party statesman goes rogue
John Dawkins has been a Liberal party member for 48 years and always said he’d put his hand up for the job.
Jing Lee is the first Malaysian-born Chinese person to be elected to South Australia’s Parliament and won her party’s support.
But on Tuesday morning, John Dawkins confirmed he would run for the role.
It was a break of tradition but an unprecedented move. The difference this time? He almost had the numbers.
With Labor supporting his bid, all he needed was a couple of cross-benchers to write his name down on the ballot paper, and they did.
The first vote was tied, as was the second.
So two names were drawn at random from a box: “The honourable J.S.L Dawkins,” read the Legislative Council Clerk.
That secured Mr Dawkins the presidency, a $150,000 pay-rise, a chauffeured car and a parliament house portrait — a great raffle to win, by anyone’s standards.
But by day’s end, he had been unanimously booted him from the parliamentary party — the first such move in 20 years.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said it was the result of the “white-hot anger” some MPs held over his decision to run.
The government’s pain was almost doubled in the Lower House, after Independent MP Frances Bedford challenged government-favourite Josh Teague.
It was a long shot but the first vote was a tie — 23-all and one informal vote, despite the government holding the majority (24 of 47 seats) in the House of Assembly.
It was clear someone within their own party was sending them a message.
The second time around Liberal MPs could be seen showing each other their votes and the party line was followed. Josh Teague won 25-22.
‘You’re the speaker, not the king!’
Mr Teague’s first task as Speaker was to give an explosive first speech to the Parliament.
In it he addressed the ICAC investigation into country MP expenses, and claimed comments by Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas were “problematic and usually unlawful.”
Mr Malinauskas had publicly told all Labor MPs to comply with the ICAC investigation or risk being booted from the party.
The new Speaker claimed this action “risks constituting, among other things, a contempt of the Parliament.”
His statement was met with outcry from the Opposition’s Minister for Government Accountability, Tom Koutsantonis, who took issue with Mr Teague commenting on party business.
Mr Koutsantonis was kicked out of the chamber within three minutes of the speech beginning.
“You’re the Speaker, not the king!” he said before leaving the chamber.
Conventions broken on both sides
There’s no doubt the results in both houses are embarrassing for the Marshall Government.
They got their pick in the Lower House but not without controversy and the fallout from the Upper House decision is still playing out.
It’s the first time since 1979 that the Government of the day hasn’t had Parliament support its pick for a presiding member.
Despite being kicked out, John Dawkins maintains he wasn’t going to attend their meetings anyway.
The matter of his party membership will be dealt with by the state executive.
But it wasn’t just Liberals breaking convention this week.
Labor was just as unruly.
It’s tradition that when a new Speaker or President is appointed the members of respective chambers walk with them to Government House in a formal procession, to watch them be sworn-in by the Governor.
This time however, Labor MPs in the House of Assembly boycotted the ceremony in an obvious act of protest — a move that has undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the Parliamentary year.
What happens next?
Liberal MPs will now be hoping they can put this week behind them and get back to the job of governing the state.
But with an opposition that’s even more fired up than before, it’s unlikely the events of the week will be forgotten soon.
SA Liberal Party tensions have boiled over with a senior minister saying there is “white-hot anger” at new Legislative Council President John Dawkins, who was expelled from the party today.
John Dawkins has been expelled from the SA Liberal Party less than a day after becoming Upper House President
Mr Dawkins ran for the position without his party’s support, beating preferred Liberal candidate Jing Lee
Treasurer Rob Lucas says there is “white-hot anger” from some Liberal MPs over the situation
Mr Dawkins ran for the prized position of President without his party’s support, beating the government’s preferred candidate, Jing Lee to securethe $351,000-a-year post.
The result was decided after two secret ballots were tied, with Mr Dawkins effectively selected by lucky dip — prompting the Liberal party to banish the veteran from its parliamentary ranks.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said Mr Dawkins had been expelled with unanimous support.
“He understood the consequences of his decision, he’s made his bed, he’ll need to lay in it now.”
Mr Lucas said it was the first such move in about 20 years.
Mr Dawkins told the party he was never going to attend Liberal Party meetings if elected president anyway, “as a general Westminster tradition”.
“I’ve also pointed out my loyalty to the party over nearly half a century,” Mr Dawkins said.
“There have been three other members of the party who have taken the same steps as I have … one is a member of the Liberal Party to this day.
The matter of Mr Dawkins’ ongoing party membership will be left to the party’s state executive.
Ms Lee said she was “disappointed, obviously” about the presidency result.
Claims of racism in vote
South Australian Greens MP Tammy Franks has accused Labor of “dog-whistling” to racists by fanning questions around the Chinese links of failed Liberal Legislative Council president candidate Jing Lee.
In the weeks prior to the vote, Ms Lee had faced questions over her relationship with China, with three conservative federal MPs calling for their state colleague to be investigated over her links with the Beijing-backed Xinjiang Association.
Labor frontbencher Tom Koutsantonis also questioned the Malaysian-born MP’s links with Beijing.
“The Opposition isn’t saying that Ms Lee is a Chinese spy or a Communist Party sympathiser,” he told reporters.
“What we are saying though, is that there are some serious questions that she needs to answer.”
Greens MLC Tammy Franks, who supported Jing Lee for the presidency, said Labor’s questions were disingenuous.
“If the Labor Party is not saying she is a Chinese communist spy, why were they using those words?” Ms Franks said.