House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Statements by Members

Mahon, Hon. Hugh

1:45 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

In this House, 100 years ago today, a grave injustice occurred. At 5 am on this day in 1920, debate concluded on the motion proposed by the Prime Minister Billy Hughes to expel the Labor member for Kalgoorlie, Hugh Mahon, from this House. The member for Kalgoorlie was sick and not present when this debate and vote occurred. The vote divided on party lines and resulted in the democratically elected member for Kalgoorlie being expelled from the Parliament of Australia. What a way to treat a founding member of the federal parliament!

Hugh Mahon is the only member ever to be expelled from federal parliament. The member for Fremantle and I know that he, like most founding members of the Australian parliament, was not born in Australia. He was born in Ireland and was a strong supporter of Irish self-government. As it turned out, he was on the right side of history. Mahon attended a public meeting in his capacity as President of the Irish-Ireland League following the death in a London prison of the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork. Hugh Mahon's statement at that meeting led to the motion to remove him from the House for sedition and disloyalty.

The democratic foundation of this institution is that the members of this House are democratically elected by their constituents. Voters, not the executive government, are our bosses. Executive government should never get to decide who sits in this House. That is going down the road that leads towards fascism. We need to make right what happened to Hugh Mahon, and I'm glad the member for Fremantle and others are taking up this cause.