Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Qualifications of Senators
The opposition will be supporting this motion. As senators would be well aware, the issue of section 44 eligibility has plagued this parliament and our democracy.
In May last year, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters issued their report on section 44 and the issue of eligibility. Firstly, the committee recommended that broad constitutional change be considered to reflect the exclusionary consequences of section 44 on our democratic institutions. However, short of constitutional change, the committee recommended that the government investigate measures to mitigate the impact of section 44 on the parliament. Importantly, the committee noted that the supremacy of the parliament and the High Court in these matters be respected.
The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018, which passed through this parliament last year, implemented an eligibility checklist as a compulsory requirement for every person nominating as a federal candidate. This compulsory requirement is vital to provide the Australian public with the faith that, regardless of who they choose to vote for, these issues have been addressed in some capacity. The Australian Electoral Commission, in anticipation of a federal election being called, are already updating their process in response to this legislation.
The motion before us ensures that the Senate can appropriately consider questions of eligibility in the future, complementing those measures introduced in the aforementioned legislation. The parliament has a responsibility to provide the Australian public with certainty, and the opposition will support this motion to achieve this. I commend the motion to the Senate.
Question agreed to.