In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Alexandra Smith reports on a plan by One Nation’s NSW Leader Mark Latham to resign from the Legislative Council half way through his current term and contest fresh election to the NSW Legislative Council next March.
This would give Latham a new eight-year term and allow One Nation to nominate a replacement for the four-year balance of Latham’s current term.
Let me quote Smith’s article to explain the plan –
One Nation MP Mark Latham is planning to quit the upper house to run again at the top of the ticket in the March election, in a bid to boost the number of MPs the party has in the Legislative Council.
Latham, who is half-way through his eight-year term, wants to recontest a new position in the upper house in order to “renew his mandate”.
A replacement One Nation candidate would be found to fill his casual vacancy.
One Nation secured two upper house spots at the last election – Latham and retired detective Rod Roberts. However, Latham is eager to increase the party’s representation to at least four MPs.
Latham believes that the party could repeat its 2019 performance in March, particularly if he heads the ticket.
Is this allowed?
The answer is almost certainly yes. Legislative Council members have resigned to contest lower house seats and federal elections in the past, and sometimes been re-appointed if they miss out on election. There seems to be nothing in the Constitution or standing orders that suggest the same rule wouldn’t apply to resigning for a Legislative Council election.
It seems that an MLC elected to an eight-year term can resign after four years to contest election for the alternate Legislative Council term. The member would effectively be elected to two over-lapping positions in the Council created by their two elections, though it would be impossible for one person to hold both positions.
Mr Latham would have to resign before the close of nominations. If elected in March, he could be sworn into a new seat in the Legislative Council and be free to nominate his own replacement at the joint sitting that would follow.
If he were unsuccessful, Mr Latham could be re-appointed to his vacancy after the election. So successful or not, Mr Latham could remain in the Council.
There is probably nothing the NSW Parliament can do to stop the plan. After the election, there would have to be a Joint Sitting of the two houses to elect a replacement, and One Nation is responsible for nominating a replacement without a vote
Yet if a party tried the same tactic for a Senate casual vacancy, a vote would be required to accept the replacement. The Commonwealth Constitution and the standing orders require a vote of approval on the candidate to fill the vacancy. And as the Tasmanian Parliament showed in 1987, a state Parliament can refuse to appoint a replacement.
That’s not an option for Legislative Council vacancies.Read More »Mark Latham and Filling NSW Legislative Council Vacancies