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Victorian Politics

Jun 4, 2014

Victoria’s Coalition government is tottering this morning following yesterday’s announcement by Liberal-turned-independent MP Geoff Shaw that he would be prepared to vote with the Labor opposition in support of a no-confidence motion, potentially bringing forward an election which is scheduled for November 29. The situation is a legacy of the narrowness of the Coalition’s win at the November 2010 election, from which it emerged with 45 seats to 43 for Labor and, for the first time in any Australian federal or state parliament since 1993, no seats for minor parties or independents. That changed in March last year when Shaw resigned from the parliamentary Liberal Party to sit as an independent, which precipitated Ted Baillieu’s resignation as Premier the following day. The Liberals were thus left in equality with Labor on the floor, with the mercurial Shaw holding the decisive swing vote. Shaw’s support for a Labor-backed no-confidence motion would enable it to pass by 44 votes to 43, with Liberal Speaker Christine Fyffe left stranded with a casting vote she can only use in the event of a tie.

Dramatis personae

Geoff Shaw’s victory in Frankston made him one of 12 Liberals to win seats off Labor at the 2010 election, that being the bare minimum required to dislodge John Brumby’s Labor government from office. Shaw promptly emerged as the new government’s loosest cannon, on account of his socially conservative enthusiasms and apparent tendency to find himself involved in physical altercations. However, his biggest trouble emerged in May 2012 with allegations he had used his parliamentary car to pursue business activities. As a police investigation proceeded, Shaw announced his resignation from the party last March, citing dissatisfaction with Baillieu’s leadership both on his own part and among the electorate at large.

Charges were laid against Shaw later in the year and dropped shortly afterwards, but the matter continued to be pursued by an inquiry of the parliament’s privileges committee. With the inquiry finally concluding last week, a minority report by the committee’s Labor members recommended Shaw be found in contempt of parliament, potentially triggering his expulsion. However, the Liberal majority recommended the softer option of finding Shaw in breach of the code of conduct and ordering him to repay $6838. The government’s applecart was then upset by an ongoing feud between Shaw and Liberal MP Ken Smith, who had launched a blistering attack on Shaw when he resigned as Speaker in February. Smith responded to the committee report by supporting Labor’s stance and saying he would vote with them in favour of finding Shaw in contempt, to the fierce displeasure of party colleagues who were expending considerable capital to keep Shaw placated. Shaw has responded precisely as the government would have feared, accusing Smith of acting with Napthine’s connivance and declaring his determination to pull the rug from under the government.

Napthine has accused Shaw of making “unreasonable demands” in a bid to “ransom” the government in exchange for his ongoing parliamentary support, most notably in respect to an assurance that he would suffer no sanction in response to the inquiry’s report. However, Napthine would appear not to be in a position to offer such a guarantee, should Ken Smith indeed remain set upon voting with Labor. Napthine expressed his determination to continue governing and challenged Labor to allow him to do so, arguing a no confidence motion would entail Labor accepting Shaw’s “tainted” vote. For its part, Labor appears set on playing for time, with Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews taking the rather puzzling position that he and Napthine should seek the advice of the Governor, Alex Chernov, in determining how to proceed.

The constitutional backdrop

Should Labor and Shaw vote to pass a no-confidence motion, there seems little doubt that an early election would have to ensue. Since 2006, Victoria has had a regime of fixed terms in which elections are set for the last week in November, but the legislation provides for escape clauses in the event of no-confidence motions and parliamentary deadlock. Crucial to the situation here is that the Legislative Assembly has an even number of seats, making the parliament unworkable in the event of a tie unless one side can persuade a member of the other to serve as Speaker.

Under the provisions which established fixed terms, notice of a no-confidence motion needs to be given three days before the event, with its passage to be followed by an eight-day cooling-off period in which the government has the opportunity to reassert control of the situation by passing a motion of confidence. Failing that, the prohibition on the Governor calling an election is lifted. There is also the potential for a no-confidence motion to be followed by the opposition taking over the reins of government, but that is not an outcome Labor could secure with the present parliamentary balance. A defeat for the government would thereby compel the Premier to advise the Governor to call an election, which the Governor would accede to after establishing Labor’s incapacity to form a government.

The Frankston situation

A wild card in the deck is the standing of parliamentary proceedings against Geoff Shaw, who appears to face a majority in favour of a contempt finding. A parliamentary library research paper asserts that the Victorian parliament’s contempt powers are “discretionary”, and run the gamut from reprimand to suspension to expulsion to imprisonment. Should the process result in Shaw vacating his seat, a by-election in his seat of Frankston would, depending on the result, either confirm the need for an early election or resolve the situation in the government’s favour. However, as Ken Smith pointed out by way of refuting the notion that his attitude has plunged the parliament into crisis, the government can evade the issue simply by declining to take the steps required to initiate a by-election. In leaving Frankston unrepresented until the election, that would put the Liberals in parity with Labor on the floor and allow their Speaker to exercise the casting vote in favour of the government as required. Labor is of course demanding that parliament consider the committee’s report as soon as possible, but a logical course for the government would seem to be to delay consideration until the election is close enough to render a by-election redundant.

The electoral environment

Lofty statements of high principle can be expected from both sides over the coming days, but few will amount to more than cover for the pursuit of political advantage. Looming large in Labor’s calculations will be the hostile response to the federal budget, which Liberals lament has negated the advantage accrued by the positive reception to the state budget a week previously. Labor’s efforts to engage the Governor in the process can perhaps be seen as an attempt to project willingness to resolve the matter in a co-operative spirit, to be followed by a regretful announcement that the situation is unworkable and an early election is the only thing for it. For its part, the government would be hoping that a few more months in office would give it time to steer the agenda back to state issues.

As illustrated by the poll aggregation chart featured below, the present indications are that Labor would enter an election campaign in the box seat, but not by such a margin that it could be entirely confident of holding off an effective Liberal campaign. Considerably complicating the situation is the first redistribution of electoral boundaries since 2005, which given the intervening population growth has required substantial changes. Whereas the Coalition was barely able to achieve a majority with 51.6% of the two-party vote in 2010, the same distribution of votes would, on Antony Green‘s reckoning, have netted them 48 seats to Labor’s 40 on the new boundaries. However, no fewer than eight of the Coalition’s seats are on margins of 1.6% or less, with a further four on margins of up to 5%. A uniform swing to Labor of just 0.4% would replicate the existing parliamentary deadlock with 44 seats each, with the threshold seat being none other than Geoff Shaw’s electorate of Frankston. The next seat up the pendulum on 0.9% is Bentleigh, which was also the seat the tipped the Coalition over the line at the 2010 election.

The redistribution has largely deprived the Coalition of the “sophomore surge” advantage that first-term governments generally enjoy, in which the key marginal seats are held by members who won their seats at the previous election and therefore enjoy the benefits of incumbency for the first time. Three seats which are notionally Liberal on the new boundaries will in fact be defended by Labor incumbents: Sharon Knight in Wendouree (hitherto Ballarat West), Danielle Green in Yan Yean and Lisa Neville in Bellarine. Frankston will of course be vacated by Shaw, at least as the Liberal candidate. However, Joe Helper will also be retiring as Labor’s member for the country electorate of Ripon, making it considerably tougher for them than the notional Liberal margin of 1.6% suggests.

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84 comments

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Martin B
Guest

Ok, but just to clarify, is it not the case that an undischarged bankrupt is someone who has

a) been declared bankrupt by the Federal Court and
b) has not received a certificate of discharge from the same.

I was thinking of the case where neither a) nor b) had yet happened but perhaps you were thinking of a) but not b). In either case my general position stands, but I won’t press the point.

My point about ‘strong presumption’ refers to the general legal arrangement, rather than to a specific hearing begore the House; I take your point there.

RichardB
Guest
Although it may not matter much, I think you may have mis-apprehended the example. An ‘undischarged bankrupt’ is a bankrupt whose bankruptcy has not been discharged. The assertion that there ‘should be a strong presumption in favour of seating a lawfully elected member’ is not particularly well put. It not only begs the question – an undischarged bankrupt cannot be lawfully elected – but the reference to a ‘presumption’ is irrelevant, given that a majority of the House has found that the person is an undischarged bankrupt. To the satisfaction of the majority, if there is any presumption, it has… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
[Suppose a person is elected who has government sympathies, but there is a view, on the basis of certain facts admitted by the person, about whether they are an ‘undischarged bankrupt’. The person seeks to take their seat, but a majority of the House, consisting of almost all the opposition, some independents, and a not insignificant minority of government members decides, having regard to their views as to the nature of ‘undischarged bankruptcy’ that the person is in fact an undischarged bankrupt, and accordingly the House decides not to admit that member. What is your objection?] Well, I would regard… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
You clearly know more about Bradlaugh than I do, but I am struggling to unravel the exact nature of your objection(s). Most, if not all Australian jurisdictions have legislation that prohibits ‘undischarged bankrupts’ from sitting as members of Parliament. I consider that legislation archaic, given the nature of modern bankruptcy, but I find myself in the minority and nobody seems overly exercised about the matter. Suppose a person is elected who has government sympathies, but there is a view, on the basis of certain facts admitted by the person, about whether they are an ‘undischarged bankrupt’. The person seeks to… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
[Bradlaugh wasn’t a crucial issue for either the Liberals or the Irish Nationalists.] It wasn’t some grand strategy, but, in the wake of a disappointing election loss, the opportunity arose, and Churchill (and his close colleagues) seized on it with considerable success. Churchill later said that they were in fact surprised by how long it dragged out. [It was also B himself who provoked the controversy.] Yes and no. Bradlaugh asked to take the affirmation, as a test, but fully expected to take the oath if this request was refused. It was the decision of the commons to say no,… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
Hmm. Wilkes probably deserved everything he got and more than probably relished the getting. You may know more about the Bradlaugh affair than I, but I would have thought that there was more fertile ground on which to split the Liberals in the 1880s and it wasn’t really an issue that was likely to cause division between the Liberals and the Home Rulers, the treatment of ‘Irish question’ in itself being more than enough to pre-occupy them in that respect. Bradlaugh wasn’t a crucial issue for either the Liberals or the Irish Nationalists. (But then again Churchill was not the… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
[I assume that your last sentence is a reference to Bradlaugh v Gossett.] Also John Wilkes in the 18th century. [but it is difficult to argue that there was any ‘abuse’ in his matter. One might disagree with the decisions – and beliefs – of the Commons majority (and it is not clear that judicial review ultimately would have resulted in a different decision), but everyone appears to have acted in good faith] I’m afraid I have to differ in my interpretation. While some of Bradlaugh’s opponents, especially amongst the Irish members, were clearly motivated by sincere belief it is… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
I assume that your last sentence is a reference to Bradlaugh v Gossett. B was indeed re-elected by his constituents about four times in the course of his various exclusions over the oaths issue, but it is difficult to argue that there was any ‘abuse’ in his matter. One might disagree with the decisions – and beliefs – of the Commons majority (and it is not clear that judicial review ultimately would have resulted in a different decision), but everyone appears to have acted in good faith, and the eventual outcome was the passage of a new improved Oaths Act… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
Well, I think I am coming to a better understanding of this obscure branch of constitutional law, so again I thank you. [Parliament needs the power to control its own business without interference by the executive] That is at best an ‘aspirational goal’ in a Westminster system with party discipline… [The power of the majority to expel for various misbehaviours is not inherently undemocratic, although obviously it can be subject to abuse.] No, I probably wouldn’t rule it out, if codifying the privilege, but a party-line vote in favour of the majority party seems to me, in general, to be… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
Yes to both questions. As to the second para, Parliament needs the power to control its own business without interference by the executive or the courts, and we elect our members of parliament pertly to oversee each other’s behaviour. The power of the majority to expel for various misbehaviours is not inherently undemocratic, although obviously it can be subject to abuse. Indefinite suspension is probably more undemocratic in that it denies representation to the electorate in question. Expulsion on the other hand results in a by-election, where the matter is subject to the judgment of electors. Expelled members have often… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
[So, for example, the courts have from time to time since 1855 made various decisions concerning the privileges of the Parliament. These did not, in theory, alter the privileges, they merely elucidated more clearly what they were and had always been.] Ok, so as above, Bradlaugh v Gossett, the case that establishes exclusive cognisance over admission is 1870, and the SCV/HCA would find this precedent persuasive but not determinative: is that right? So is it possible, in principle, that the courts would find that Australian parliamentary prerogative differed in this respect? I know they never would. My personal (and irrelevant)… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
Of course it is also arguable that the Imperial Parliament had in 1855 the power to make any law at all that it saw fit to make. But to more or less get to your point … The common law is a set of principles applied by the courts to the circumstances of particular cases. It is supposedly the customary law of England as it has existed “from time immemorial,” that is, so long that “the memory of man runneth not to the contrary” to quote Blackstone. As it happens the courts also tell us what those principles are. But… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
Hi RichardB (are we related? 🙂 ) Thanks for the reply. [The Imperial Parliament arguably did not (and does not) have the power to ‘expand’ its privileges. (The extent of these being arguably fixed by the – largely unwritten – British constitution.)] Is it the case that in a common law system these privileges can, if not expand, at least evolve to cover situations that did not exist earlier (say, as an eg tweeting from the chamber)? If that is so, can the privileges of the Victorian parliament evolve similarly with the Victorian/Australian common law? [It gives the widest possible… Read more »
RichardB
Guest
70 The Victorian Parliament is the creation of an Act the Imperial British Parliament (The Victorian Constitution Act 1855 (Imp)). The original constitution of Victoria is laid out in schedule 1 of that Act. Art XXXV of the Schedule says: ‘It shall be lawful for the Legislature of Victoria, by any Act or Acts to define the Privileges, Immunities, and Powers to be held, enjoyed, and exercised by the Council and Assembly, and by the Members thereof.’ Bear in mind that the Imperial Parliament could not give to anyone powers that it itself did not have. That is the powers… Read more »
Martin B
Guest
Ok, so it looks like Shaw is less likely to be expelled… but if he were, I’m sure the legal advice is right: the courts, if asked, would enquire into the existence and limits of the privilege but not the circumstances of its exercise. Still, I’m sure there’s scope for playing merry legal heck. For example Bradlaugh v Gossett, the case demonstrating exclusive cognisance of Parliament over expulsion wasn’t until 1882 – so presumably this had not been determined in 1855. Indeed the early case of Ashby v White, appeal upheld by the Lords could be argued to demonstrate that… Read more »
Raaraa
Guest

Did Vic Labor just passed all the bills, including that bit with the EW link?

Tom the first and best
Guest
Tom the first and best

67

The ALP MLAs are likely to be on their best behaviour before the vote to reduce the chances of being suspended.

Steve777
Guest

Maybe the Speaker has instructions to chuck out a couple of Labor members today before any vote on the Shaw matter.

Leroy Lynch
Guest

Adelaide Law Review article from 2005 is a good survey of the Victorian Parliament’s powers to punish contempt

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AdelLawRw/2005/2.pdf

Professor George Williams’ advice to Victorian Labor on the Victorian Parliament’s powers to expel an MP

http://resources.news.com.au/files/2014/06/08/1226947/375976-george-williams-advice-on-shaw.pdf

Peter Costello’s great-great-grand-father Patrick was expelled from Vic Parliament & jailed for voter impersonation in 1861

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/costello-patrick-12861

The life of Edward Findley, the last MP to be expelled from the Victorian Parliament; went on to be a Senator

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/findley-edward-6170

Leroy Lynch
Guest
http://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/geoff-shaw-could-be-entitled-to-150k-windfall-before-tax-if-suspended-from-parliament-for-2014/story-fnii5sms-1226946950295 [Geoff Shaw could be entitled to $150k windfall before tax if suspended from Parliament for 2014 June 08, 2014 12:00AM Matt Johnston, Michelle Ainsworth Herald Sun A TAXPAYER-funded windfall worth almost $150,000 before tax could be awaiting embattled Frankston MP Geoff Shaw if he was suspended from parliament for the rest of the year. Part of the money he would be entitled to would be $8400 worth of gross fortnightly payments because he no longer has a taxpayer-funded car. This is about $2000 more than the fine the Privileges Committee recommends he pay for the misuse of his former… Read more »
RichardB
Guest

60

Some further information. My attention has been drawn to this report of an expulsion from the Vic Parliament in 1876:
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/5896693
McKean lost his seat at the by-election.

Wakefield
Guest
There is no basis for early election currently. Napthine can govern until a no confidence motion is carried. Labor would be stupid to move a NCM and vote with Shaw. Suspending Shaw has no effect. Just gives the Speaker a casting vote. Only expelling Shaw has any impact. Hard to see why the Libs would support this (they would say lesser penalty appropriate) but apparently would get up with Smith vote. If Vic ALP win by-election then there is deadlock – 44 all and in theory neither party can govern. Early election possible but Labor can leave Napthine as a… Read more »
Graeme
Guest
Expulsion would be extraordinary and undemocratic for $6k misuse – think how many MPs would go under on that test or how it could be abused by partisans in tight parliaments. Short of a proper inquiry showing attempted blackmail, Shaw should not be expelled. I expect the government will want Shaw suspended (during which time no no confidence is possible). I’m not sure why Labor would prefer to run to an early poll (and take any public disdain for that – Labor introduced fixed terms after all and six months is more like a standard campaign period now than a… Read more »
Bugler
Guest

Mexicanbeemer,

The Labor Candidate for Frankston is Helen Costas, Chief Executive Officer of the Peninsula Community Legal Centre and Executive Officer of the Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association.

Tom,

[For starters, if the Coalition cannot pass legislation, it cannot get the East-West Link contracts signed because legislation is needed to authorise various bits of the works.]

That’s interesting…

mexicanbeemer
Guest

Thanks Richard B and Deb

RichardB
Guest
48 According to the NSW Parliament briefing paper ‘Four Members have been expelled from the NSW Parliament, three from the Legislative Assembly (in 1881, 1890 and 1917) and one from the Legislative Council (in 1969). Of the other Australian States, only the Victorian Parliament has used its power of expulsion. The last occasion was in 1901.’ Details of the NSW expulsions can be found in ‘The Constitution of New South Wales’, Anne Twomey, Federation Press, 2004. Interestingly the three members expelled from the NSW lower house were all subsequently re-elected. One of them, William Crick (1890) went on, according to… Read more »
deblonay
Guest
The only expulsion from the Vic P’ment ______________________In 1901, a Labor member Ted Findley…the first Labor Membrt for the state seat of Melbourne,and editor of a labour journal : “The Tocsin” was expelled from the Parliament after he publiushed an article from the “Irish People” which the Vic Premier Peacock judged to be a criminal libel of King Edward 7th,although the stories were common knowledge in the UK press Findley was expelled and failed to regain his seat at the by-election He did however win a Vic Senate seat for the ALP in 1904 and had a long career in… Read more »
Tom the first and best
Guest
Tom the first and best

56

It would stifle the Government. For starters, if the Coalition cannot pass legislation, it cannot get the East-West Link contracts signed because legislation is needed to authorise various bits of the works.

caf
Guest

Only supply would need to be secured. The main purpose of proroguing Parliament would be to provide political cover for not holding the by-election.

Andrew McIntosh
Guest

“Lofty statements of high principle can be expected from both sides over the coming days, but few will amount to more than cover for the pursuit of political advantage.”

Politics as usual, then.

Tom the first and best
Guest
Tom the first and best

51

The Budget would have to be passed first.

They also could get no further legislation through.

If the ALP won a by-election in Frankston, the Governor would have the reserve power (which he should use if the Government was not advising him to) to recall Parliament to test the Government`s majority.

caf
Guest

I suppose if they are such political positives then they would be just as happy to take them to an election as unlegislated policies. (Obviously Parliament would need to be kept in session until supply had been secured).

mexicanbeemer
Guest

Caf

I am not sure if its budget as passed, it has a view policies which the government would consider as political positives

caf
Guest

If Shaw is expelled, would it then be open to Napthine to declare the Government has no further business for Parliament this term and request it be prorogued until the normally scheduled election?

mexicanbeemer
Guest

Frankston despite its reputation does have some solid Liberal voting areas particularly south of Frankston-Cranbourne Road which runs through the middle of the seat.

Re posted for accuracy

mexicanbeemer
Guest

I see the Liberals are running in Frankston the candidate that contested Melbourne at the last federal election, I am not sure who the ALP candidate is.

Regardless if the current or new boundaries are used I image it will be won by the ALP.

Frankston despite its reputation does have some solid areas particularly south of Frankston-Cranbourne Road which runs through the middle of the seat.

mexicanbeemer
Guest

Two things

Would anyone know anything about the earlier cases of Victorian & NSW MP’s being removed from the parliament

The Victorian Parliament list of MP’s seem to be missing George Swinburne and I image maybe one or two others.

Martin B
Guest

Thanks. Certainly I agree with both of those principles.

I’m not really interested in trying to think though the legal reasoning of it per se – more just what the practical effect is: parliament votes to expel Shaw (though I note that Andrews has been a bit cagey about what the precise wording might be and what the implications of that would be); Shaw goes to court and gets an injunction; court hears argument on jurisdiction; etc. seems at bare minimum a 1-2 week delay and could be 4 weeks, or more with appeals.

beachcomber
Guest

If the Liberals take the mean and sneaky option of expelling Shaw from Parliament, and then preventing Frankston voters from electing a replacement so that they have the numbers to govern for 5 months, they will deserve to be slaughtered at the next election.

RichardB
Guest
Subtle is one word you could use to describe it. I have not read Armstrong v Budd, so you should read my comments subject to that admission. But You need to bear in mind that that was a case on the privileges of the NSW Parliament, which may just possibly perhaps be different from those of the Vic Parliament. Nor is it really a question of whether the privilege to expel is justiciable, but whether a particular exercise of that privilege is justiciable. If Shaw were expelled it is possible he would take his expulsion to the Vic Supreme Court.… Read more »
Martin B
Guest

Ok, well I could be wrong 😉

So if the parliament’s powers are statutorily defined to be the same as Commons in 1855, and this power of the Commons in 1855 was justiciable, does that mean that the power as defined statutorily is justiciable? Or is constitutional law a bit more subtle?

Tom the first and best
Guest
Tom the first and best

40

If the ALP gets there way and Shaw is expelled on Tuesday, the ALP are supporting a by-election. The Speaker has to issue writs because of the relevant provision in the Constitution and would get a lot of attack if she then withdrew it.

RichardB
Guest

William @ 30
I think the confusion arises because the privileges of the Victorian Parliament are statutorily defined by s19 of the Constitution Act 1975 (Vic)(by reference to the privileges of the House of Commons in 1855). A similar provision occurs, as far as I know, in the Constitutions of the other States, with the exception of that of NSW which, I think, not having looked all that carefully, is silent on the matter. The privileges of the NSW Parliament, not being defined by statute, are thus prerogative.

teh_drewski
Guest

I favor the not more than 4 years interpretation, ie. a 3 and a bit year term if Andrews forces an election.

Which he probably should. Expelling a member for anything less than gross misconduct, and potentially allowing 1/88th of the state to go unrepresented for a considerable length of time is a bad look, regardless of how Andrews might try to politic it by claiming it’s Napthine’s fault for not allowing a by-election. If the Parliament is clearly non-functional, playing games when you could just force a poll is bad policy and, I suspect, bad politics.

Greensborough Growler
Guest
Greensborough Growler
Rourke, You seem to be conflating two issues as one. Firstly, the Privileges Committee inquiry and findings in to Shaw. Labor have flagged they will move some motion to punish Shaw which Smith seems to be in favour. This motion not being resolved or challenged legally will allow Labor to keep the issue alive. A No Confidence motion in the Government is unlikely just yet. Labor has said repeatedly that they respect the decison of the voters from 2010. So, unless something huge occurs they probably won’t force the issue. To grasp for Government using tricks and games is no… Read more »
David Penington
Guest

Could the speaker ban someone from the house for a few hours during the eight day cooling off period, and then have a confidence motion be passed during those few hours? If so, that would restart the clock, requiring another 3 day notice no-confidence motion followed by 8 day cooling off, with potential for the government plus speaker to drag it out indefinitely. Wicked, but the rules seem to allow it.

Martin B
Guest

I don’t think the drafting is at all clear, certainly it is formally ambiguous, but I think the intent is clear. I don’t think you would make the sentence that convoluted if the other reading was meant.

Rourke
Guest
The majority Privileges Committee report is clearly political in not seeking to expel Shaw, with the grounds for that expulsion evident in the minority report. (yeah, of course it’s all political when the parliament is on a knife-edge) However, Labor cannot gain votes out of a bruising four months in its own unstable government and it may not force the no-confidence motion. I believe that the coalition will follow Ken Smith and try to claim the moral high ground. (Ken Smith! Moral high ground! Who’da thunk) There are enough in that party who believe it’s the correct approach. Three factors… Read more »
pedant
Guest
Martin B @ 33: Indeed, it comes down to a question of whether “occurs” refers to the “anniversary” (my reading) or to the “last Saturday” (your reading). I wish I could agree that it’s clear, but for mine it’s an ugly piece of drafting (and I say that as a non-lawyer who did a lot of instructing of parliamentary counsel in a previous life). The Explanatory Memorandum for the relevant constitutional amendments (at http://australianpolitics.com/2003/03/27/victorian-parliamentary-reform-explanatory-memorandum.html) isn’t very well drafted either, but probably supports your reading more than mine. It would be interesting to see if the parliamentary debates at the time… Read more »
Tom the first and best
Guest
Tom the first and best

31 & 33.

38(2) looks to my (non-lawyer) eyes to be ambiguously drafted. The only way to sort it out for good, without a referendum to reword it, is to have an early election (that is not on the last Saturday in November) and then someone challenge the election or lack thereof in November 2017 (substitute the appropriate year hear if it is a term latter than this one that is shortened).

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