Nat may face court test over re­tail cen­tre deal

The Australian - - THE NATION - ROSIE LEWIS

The High Court “can­not de­cide” if Na­tion­als MP David Gille­spie has fallen foul of the Constitution be­cause he has not been re­ferred by fed­eral par­lia­ment, So­lic­i­tor-Gen­eral Stephen Don­aghue says.

Peter Al­ley, who ran against Dr Gille­spie for La­bor in the NSW seat of Lyne, filed the ap­pli­ca­tion un­der the Com­mon In­form­ers Act in July, ar­gu­ing the MP holds an in­di­rect pe­cu­niary in­ter­est in an agree­ment with the com­mon­wealth.

Dr Gille­spie is fac­ing ques­tions over his el­i­gi­bil­ity to sit in par­lia­ment un­der sec­tion 44 of the Constitution, the same sec­tion that trig­gered the dual cit­i­zen­ship cri­sis.

His case has at­tracted lit­tle at­ten­tion amid the dual cit­i­zen­ship fi­asco, but he faces his first test next month when the full bench of the High Court is asked to de­cide whether it can rule on the mat­ter.

In writ­ten sub­mis­sions Dr Gille­spie and Dr Don­aghue, rep­re­sent­ing At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis, ar­gue the case should not be heard be­cause the court is in- ca­pa­ble of de­cid­ing whether a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is dis­qual­i­fied un­der the Com­mon In­form­ers Act.

Dr Gille­spie’s fam­ily com­pany owns a small shop­ping cen­tre in Port Mac­quarie, and a ten­ant has a li­cens­ing deal with Aus­tralia Post, a govern­ment-owned busi­ness.

Un­der sec­tion 44, a per­son who has “any di­rect or in­di­rect pe­cu­niary in­ter­est in any agree­ment with the pub­lic ser­vice of the com­mon­wealth other­wise than as a mem­ber and in com­mon with the other mem­bers of an in­cor­po­rated com­pany con­sist­ing of more than 25 per­sons” is in­ca­pable of be­ing cho­sen to sit in par­lia­ment.

Univer­sity of Syd­ney con­sti­tu­tional law stu­dent Geor­gia Allen, who is taught by con­sti­tu­tional lawyer Anne Twomey, said on the univer­sity’s “Con­sti­tu­tional Cri­tique” blog that Mr Al­ley’s case “may well fall at the first hur­dle’’ if it could not be shown Aus­tralia Post was part of the pub­lic ser­vice.

Dr Gille­spie ar­gues in his sub­mis­sion that any pe­ti­tion against a mem­ber’s elec­tion must be re­solved within 40 days af­ter polling.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.