Professor Graeme Orr on Senator Bob Day's Disqualification

19 Apr 2017

Earlier this month, the High Court disqualified Family First Senator Bob Day from holding office, on grounds that his election was invalid due to a perceived conflict of interest. ABC Radio's Law Report interviewed Professor Graeme Orr on the implications of this case.

Professor Orr remarked the decision is highly problematic for several reasons. 

First, it makes the electoral process even more confusing, especially for and minor party representatives. Without access to the high-quality legal advice the major parties take for granted, minor party representatives can fall foul to 18th century rules that are rarely tested in court. The decision is only the first case on the topic in 40 years. 

Second, electors should have confidence that who they elect will stand, and not deemed ineligible several years after the fact. This is especially problematic as the process requires initiation by the parliament, and so will not be used by the incumbent major party against itself. 

Third, the decision takes away attention from issues that truly threaten democracy, such as rorting of parliamentary allowances. 

The full transcript of the interview can be found here.