Representation Equality in Australian Democracy

Representation Equality in Australian Democracy

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Katie Clements started this petition to Christian Porter (Former politician)

Did you know that the choices on our ballot papers are NOT an accurate representation of the people in our communities or society? Did you know that Section 44 of the Australian Constitution limits which people in our communities are eligible to run for any seat in Australia for a federal election based on their occupation? 

Section 44 (iv)  precludes any person in the public service and anyone receiving a pension. Teachers, nurses, firemen, policemen, public servants, pensioners (whether they are old-age or any other type of pensioner) are NOT eligible to run as a candidate until they resign from their paid employment or cease their pension.

Only people who are financially able to quit their jobs, or who are not public servants can run in a federal election. It unfairly discriminates against women, who make up a large percentage of teachers and nurses as well as administration staff amongst other occupations. 

This rule needs to change so people have the right to run in federal elections regardless of their occupation and Australian voters have the right to vote for a truer representation of them and their communities. The Australian Constitution needs to be amended, or a challenge to The High Court needs to be found in favor of the candidate being challenged because of their occupation.

In Victoria, state election candidates who work for the state, eg, teachers, are able to run in the election and then resign their position if they are elected. Why can't this be the same for federal elections? In NSW, state election candidates are required to take a leave of absence from nominating as a candidate.In SA, candidates are referred back to the rules of the Commonwealth, which is Section 44 (iv) precluding public servants from running. As you can see, there are even discrepancies on who can run for state elections, depending on where you live in Australia!

What is Section 44?
Section 44 of the Constitution sets out restrictions on who can be a candidate for Federal parliament. In full it reads:

44. Any person who -

(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: or

(ii.) Is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer: or

(iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent: or

(iv.) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or

(v.) 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 twenty-five persons:

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

Item four (iv.) states any person who is employed by the Crown, or receives a pension from the Crown is ineligible to stand in a federal election. This was tested in The High Court (Sykes vs Cleary, 1992) when Phil Cleary was elected to the seat of Wills and was elected while he was employed as a secondary school teacher. The court found he was ineligible to be chosen as a candidate because he "Holds any office of profit under the Crown".

 

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