Now we are all agreed that Section 44 of the Constitution is creating the silly season of all silly seasons; but the Constitution still stands.
According to Section 44(iv):
Any person who 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…
shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or member of the House of Representatives.
Now the law is clear that federal and state public servants are deemed to be persons who hold office of profit under the Crown and are ineligible unless they resign their positions prior to nomination. (Phil Cleary was a state school teacher and was knocked out.)
It is not so clear in respect of local government employees and councillors – hence the hold up with the Jacqui Lambie nominee who is also the major of Devenport.
Where university staff fit in is also unclear. Arguably they are employed the universities which are established by state legislation and there is a variety of funding sources that cover the salaries of staff. But who knows really? There have been a few former academics in parliament over the years – Neale Blewett, for instance.
But where do ministerial advisers fit in? They are paid by the Commonwealth. They are surely persons who hold office of profit under the Crown.
Talk about a cat among the pigeons? There are slews of current parliamentarians who were lobbed into their seats from being ministerial advisers. Should they be deemed to be ineligible under section 44?
And don’t just think it would be Labor’s problem; it is now the preferred pathway for the Coalition too. Canavan and O’Dwyer spring to mind as former ministerial advisers.
Just a thought.