Family First Senator Bob Day has been found to be invalidly elected, but what does that mean and why should you care?
The latest in a saga of controversies surrounding Senator Day, who resigned from Parliament only to come back and resign again, is to do with his electoral office in South Australia. The office space was rented for him by the government however the building itself was owned by a shareholder in one of Senator Day’s companies. In government terms, this is called an indirect pecuniary interest. In these cases, it is often the norm for another candidate from the same party to take over, but Senate President Stephen Parry believed further advice on the matter was needed. Senator Day has since resigned and it is possible South Australian votes will have to be recounted and that he may have to be replaced by someone from another party.
What happens now?
It is possible that his replacement could be from the Labor Party, which would disadvantage the Turnbull government as it attempts to pass its Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill through the Senate. The bill has already met a backlash and is unlikely to pass without support from cross-benchers – senators from outside the Liberal and Labor parties. Senator Day was a valuable cross-bencher for the Liberal Party who had helped it get several bills through the Senate.
What can we expect in the coming days?
It will likely take a while for the conflict to be resolved as the matter has been referred to the High Court by Attorney-General George Brandis. It will be up to the court to decide who will replace Mr Day or if a recount of the vote is necessary. It is also believed that the former Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, now resigned, advised on Senator Day’s possible ineligibility, which could mean further problems for the Turnbull government. The plot thickens. And who said politics was boring? – Matthew Buchanan
Top photo from Tim Stevens’ Twitter page.