What about Recall Elections in Australia?

At the time of writing over 1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for Fraser Anning to be expelled from the Parliament. As it turns – apart from an actual election – there is no mechanism to make that happen.

The power of the houses to expel members, as granted by section 49, was subject to the Commonwealth parliament declaring what the powers, privileges and immunities of the houses shall be. This occurred with the enactment of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987.

It was enacted as a result of an inquiry by a parliamentary committee, which pointed out the potential for this power to be abused and that as a matter of democratic principle, it was up to voters to decide the composition of the parliament. This is reinforced by sections seven and 24 of the Constitution, which say that the houses of parliament are to be “directly chosen by the people”.

As a consequence, the power to expel was removed from the houses.Section 8 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 says:

A House does not have power to expel a member from membership of a House.

This means that currently neither house of the Commonwealth parliament has the power to expel one of its members.

On balance that is probably wise – I have no doubt this power could and would be abused.

But we do have the situation where 1.2 million people have signed a petition to get rid of Anning. Now no doubt some of them are not Australian citizens, or not on the voters roll, or not old enough, or not from Queensland, and so on. Nonetheless a lot more people have indicated displeasure with Anning than the 250, 126 votes One Nation received at the 2016 election. *

Now – it’s not clear to me that recall elections in the lower house are a good idea. MPs are elected for 3 years only and I suspect that is short enough time to elect and then toss out someone if they’re unsuitable for the position.

But Senator are elected for six years. So what about recall elections for Senators?

At first glance this seems a good idea. But what about gaming the system? Both major parties could very easily engineer a recall election for any minor party Senator and then (attempt to) systematically increase their own numbers in the subsequent election. Okay – so we don’t have by-elections in the Senate – any problems and the next person on the list gets up or the party nominates.

Yes, well. Fraser Anning was the next person on the list!

The issue then becomes that minor parties are not very good at vetting candidates anyway, and minor stop-gap candidates are precisely the problem here.

I anticipate that Anning will be tossed out at the election so the precise details of this case are moot. The issue, however, remains – a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament and there is no obvious mechanism to remove him (bar the actual election – but even then he remains in office until 30 June).

* A lot of people are making a lot of the fact that he only got 19 personal votes, the actual number to look at is the 250,000 votes (some 9% of the Queensland electorate).

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59 Responses to What about Recall Elections in Australia?

  1. Indolent

    A lot of people are making a lot of the fact that he only got 19 personal votes

    I guarantee he’ll get a lot more this time around.

  2. A Lurker

    1.2 million people

    How many were from overseas activist groups?
    How many dead people voted?
    How many people voted twice, thrice or more?
    How many were bots?

    and of the remainder, how many actual living Australians voted?

  3. chrisl

    Why would you anticipate he would get tossed out at the next election.?
    I would bet one of my houses that he will return
    (Mortgage is worth more than the house)

  4. None

    Precisely Lurker. As I explained in the last open thread this was a classic case of astroturfing and it should be called out as such as should the lazy journalists who promoted it as news.

  5. chrisl

    The further left the mainstream parties go the more the right wing parties will flourish.
    People haven’t changed their views that much ,it is just that the right wing view is not spoken about or suppressed. I have gone from centre to centre right to far right and I haven’t changed my views.
    There are plenty of people in Rural Queensland who would vote for Fraser Anning. They are his constituency.Im pretty sure they get a vote.

  6. Tezza

    Bizarre thoughts, Sinc. How about this: the party that wins a majority of both houses at an election then uses its numbers to expel the minority of MPs whose party lost the elections. Any contrived reason will do. Brilliant.

  7. Speedbox

    So what about recall elections for Senators?

    At first glance this seems a good idea. But what about gaming the system? Both major parties could very easily engineer a recall election for any minor party Senator and then (attempt to) systematically increase their own numbers in the subsequent election.

    I have no trouble believing that the major parties would try to game the system. Eventually, one way or another, they would collude to get rid of a particular thorn.

    As for Anning’s re-election, I would not write him off. Similarly for Clive Palmer – a buffoon – but I won’t be surprised to see him pick up 1-2 seats in the Reps and a Senate seat.

  8. The issue, however, remains – a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament

    That probably relates to quite a few elected reps. But that is what, currently, they are – elected reps – no matter how small the margin.

    It alarms me that people are seriously considering removing an elected MP – particularly in view of Sect 8 of the Parl. Privileges Act 1987.

  9. stackja

    FA is not the first to upset people.
    SHY doesn’t seem to get the same MSM criticism? Leftists don’t criticize leftists?

  10. John Barr

    Was Frazer Anning elected in the last Senate Election. If so, then he still has three years to go. So he won’t even be on the Ballot Paper.

  11. anonandon

    Storm in a teacup. The more impotent you are the louder you yell.

  12. Iva Right

    Didn’t know much about him until now but I suspect his stocks have risen with the voters who matter to him.

  13. Confused Old Misfit

    1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for Fraser Anning to be expelled

    How many of these are Queensland voters?
    Surely they are the only ones that matter?

  14. jupes

    The issue, however, remains – a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament and there is no obvious mechanism to remove him

    So what?

    A large proportion of the population don’t want every other politician in parliament either.

  15. Sam

    With all the publicity he is getting, Fraser Anning will get into the parliament come election time. While I support his right for free speech, I hope he in his quieter time thinks about the comments he made after the massacre and his “a little crazy yeah” comment about the murderer.

  16. Behind Enemy Lines

    We need more like Anning, not fewer.

    Meanwhile, who dreamed up the whacky idea that a random set of people from goodness-knows-where should get any say whatsoever in who represents Anning’s electorate? If all it takes is 1.2 million vote-bots to eject a politician, Parliament would be empty by Wednesday.

    Then again, when you look at it that way, perhaps it’s not such a whacky idea after all.

  17. Natural Instinct

    The issue, however, remains – a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament and there is no obvious mechanism to remove him
    So what?
    A large proportion of inner city green leaning voters (and most of the ABC) don’t want Abbott. Should he be recalled to?
    An a recall election puts an insurmountable taint on the incumbent, e.g. “he must be bad or we would not be having this by-election”.
    Petition meant something when it was a laborious task and contributors were not anonymous but not now. Just a click away till your heart is content.

  18. Helen

    Q. What about recall elections in Australia?

    A. No. What happens on the day is what you get. As little vote fixing as possible, as true a reflection of people’s intentions as possible.

    However, I would have no objection to citizen’s referenda on some legislation.

  19. Sinclair Davidson

    Was Frazer Anning elected in the last Senate Election. If so, then he still has three years to go. So he won’t even be on the Ballot Paper.

    Last election was double dissolution. Half senators got 6 year term and half got a three year term. He is up at the May election.

  20. Sinclair Davidson

    I would have no objection to citizen’s referenda on some legislation.

    On all legislation is my preference.

  21. Sinclair Davidson

    How about this: the party that wins a majority of both houses at an election then uses its numbers to expel the minority of MPs whose party lost the elections. Any contrived reason will do. Brilliant.

    Isn’t that exactly what I said?

  22. JC

    We need more like Anning, not fewer.

    Oh why? Is it because of his economic policy of setting up a government bank to lend money at zero interest?

  23. As usual the MSM and especially the ABC have stirred the pot on this with pure obfuscation. Do you suppose any of those who signed the petition thought it through?
    That is what he actually said.
    “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand,”
    Senator Anning told his followers yesterday was not “an excuse to forget the countless lives lost to Islamic terrorist attacks”.

    Does anyone dispute the accuracy of this? Is there more or less religious violence in Australia and New Zealand prior to extensive immigration of people from a vastly different culture? How can this be construed to mean that any blame for an atrocity is attributed to the victims? Australia has had many religions in the past that got along rather famously. Is there an instance where the Presbyterians preached violence against the Buddhists?
    Is this any different than commenting that religious conflict resulted in violence in Northern Ireland? Is this any different or less accurate than commenting that the friction between Shia and Sunni has resulted in violence?

    If anyone should be “censured” it would be hotheads such as our political “leaders” that prove to be nothing more than loose cannons.

  24. Behind Enemy Lines

    JC
    #2962799, posted on March 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm
    We need more like Anning, not fewer.

    Oh why? Is it because of his economic policy of setting up a government bank to lend money at zero interest?

    Oh why?

    Because he smites dickheads, JC.

  25. I would have no objection to citizen’s referenda on some legislation.
    On all legislation is my preference.

    That alternative is a good one and has potential in VOTEFLUX.ORG

  26. bespoke

    Senators aren’t elected by all Australians. That’s it the end.

  27. Bruce

    Speedbox:

    “I have no trouble believing that the major parties would try to game the system. Eventually, one way or another, they would collude to get rid of a particular thorn. ”

    I seem to recall a certain fish and chip shop proprietor…

  28. Dr Fred Lenin

    1.2million peopke sign a petition in a few days ? Yeah right !that sounds like Getups membership claims ,everyone who ever looked at it is automatically a member ?
    Also getting rid of him will annoy the 19 peole who voted for him ,right?
    Woukdnt the alp love to be abke to fit up members of a non complying senate with reasonsdreamed up by the aparat ,they vwould declare a peoples decromatic globalist republic and put shorten in as president for life ,if the u.n. Unelected comrade rulers let them .

  29. Tel

    I recall when we had elections in Australia … top suggestion!

  30. Sydney Boy

    A lot of people are making a lot of the fact that he only got 19 personal votes

    And I take great delight in reminding the left Greens supporters (because they are the ones who raise this issue the most) that Senator Steel-John only got 146 votes. That seems to shut most of them up.

  31. Confused Old Misfit

    A lot of people are making a lot of the fact that he only got 19 personal votes

    And unless “A lot of people” are Queensland voters it means diddly-squat!

  32. iamok

    We hear all the time form the (left) pollies that they ARE accountable. At elections. So let it play out this time you bloody hypocrites.

    And egg boy should be up for assault and battery, absolutely no doubt

  33. candy

    I don’t believe that 1.2 million signatures, given the population of Australia, and how many are over 18 as an indicator of someone’s opinion being valid, and how many would peruse the Internet for the petition, actually think it worthwhile to sign or be worried about putting their name to some document on the Internet.
    All in a few days over a little known Senator few people have heard of in their daily lives.

  34. iamok

    We hear all the time from the (left) pollies that they ARE accountable. At elections. So let it play out this time you bloody hypocrites.

    And egg boy should be up for assault and battery, absolutely no doubt

  35. Seco

    Such a reputable petition, lets do it.

    I’m sure if this got up you’d get a million signatures to get rid of Abbott, execute Cardinal Pell, 100% renewables in bugger all years, immediate end of polluters like mining and cattle farming, water rationing etc.

    Anning is a goose, he’s been called out as such by nearly all and sundry and has as much political clout as me – that should be the end of it. Who will do more damage to this country? Unpopular Anning, or popular Bill Shorten?

    Catallaxy Files – formerly Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog

  36. Fang

    Time for Crypto voting ID.
    You get your Crypto ID as you show your personal ID, and then can vote! No one would be able to track who you voted for!

    Australians! You get who you voted for! Good, bad or indifferent! So study who you vote for before you vote for them!

  37. Cementafriend

    Sinc agree that CIR (citizen initiated referenda) should be introduced so citizens csn vote on all legislation including budgets as in Switzerland. Ho wever some constitutional changes need to be in addition to CIR (which includes recall). 1 there is a need for more states Switzerland has 26 2 taxing needs to be returned to the states. 3 recall should applu senior public servants including judges 4 people who lie in for and against statements eg Shorten or the Greens need to be charged with perjury and jailed if found guilty.
    With Anning the Recall only woulf apply to Qld voters, it should gave a choice of a) Anning b) a ON candidate c) another small party eg Katter party d) no one until thr next election.

  38. Tel

    You get your Crypto ID as you show your personal ID, and then can vote! No one would be able to track who you voted for!

    Incorrect, the possibility of bribes or standover is created.

    Anything that you can use at home to verify your vote (even an anonymous ID) would thus also allow you to demonstrate to a third party how you voted. This puts the third party in a position to exert influence.

  39. Siltstone

    At the time of writing over 1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for Fraser Anning to be expelled from the Parliament.
    There is seldom anyone as naive as an academic when it comes to interpreting numbers. Go on line from anywhere in the world and “sign” the thing as many times as you like! 1.2 million “people”.

  40. greggg

    ‘there is a need for more states Switzerland has 26’
    Separate city from country. Country states would thrive without city idiots having a say.

  41. Chris M

    Senator Anning – Badass of the month – at this point is guaranteed re-election if he so chooses.

    It’s absolutely vital for the Wests survival that free speech be preserved. Which means teddybear Morrison and his crappy party must be dumped of course.

  42. New Chum

    why has no one said anything about the cameraman positioned behind Anning to film the assault. He raised the camera and made adjustments to the camera then lowered the camera and waited for the chap with the egg to be ready, raised the camera and the action commenced.

  43. Deplorable

    IS beheaded 50 Yazidi women, remaining 3000 likely to be sold into sex slave market

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    Where is the outrage by the extreme left the MSM and politicians.

  44. struth

    I anticipate that Anning will be tossed out at the election so the precise details of this case are moot. The issue, however, remains – a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament and there is no obvious mechanism to remove him (bar the actual election – but even then he remains in office until 30 June).

    Going on your past performance (your fascination with the great Turnbull) I wouldn’t anticipate anything if I were you.
    An online petition and you claim a large proportion of the population don’t want him in parliament.
    Are you serious?
    Considering the world wide exposure he just got, hardly any of those would probably be from Australia, and therefore you have absolutely no evidence that a large proportion of the public don’t want him in parliament.
    None whatsoever.
    When you consider the world wide leftism of the web, over a million is chicken shit.
    Kids that can’t vote in their own countries yet.

    Good lord Sinc.
    Let me guarantee you, there are more people in Australia that would vote for a hundred Annings before they’d vote for a Morrison.
    The vast majority all around Australia are screaming for somebody like him.
    Although you’ve been very wrong in the past, you couldn’t be more wrong than here.
    Remember, it’s only QLDers that vote for him anyway, and WA and us are the last hold out states for a reason.

  45. Zatara

    a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament

    Then they better move to QLD and vote him out.

    Or else sit back and suck a lemon because what they want doesn’t matter.

  46. Mater

    The issue then becomes that minor parties are not very good at vetting candidates anyway, and minor stop-gap candidates are precisely the problem here.

    Did the two majors lose any due to citizenship?

  47. But we do have the situation where 1.2 million people have signed a petition to get rid of Anning.

    How many of the 1.2 are AU citizens eligible to vote?

  48. a large proportion of the population don’t want him in the Parliament

    Newspoll indicates this is true of Shorten and Scottie.
    How do we get rid of them?

  49. The BigBlueCat

    New Chum
    #2963218, posted on March 18, 2019 at 10:41 pm
    why has no one said anything about the cameraman positioned behind Anning to film the assault. He raised the camera and made adjustments to the camera then lowered the camera and waited for the chap with the egg to be ready, raised the camera and the action commenced.

    It was a premeditated attack on Anning … who turns up to something like this with eggs? And then records it using alternate POV’s? As someone pointed out elsewhere, if this kid did this to the POTUS he would be dead! He should be charged with assault. As should Annings people who over-reacted. But the kid got his just deserts from Anning.

  50. Seth

    The host of this blog is a depressingly dim bulb.

  51. Mr Johnson

    Golly, following his comments I’m betting he has now lost the progressive vote for good, haha!

  52. Mr Johnson

    ScoMo advisor: ‘You need to do something to bring back the Right of Centre voters.’
    ScoMo: ‘I know, I’ll attack Fraser Anning.’

  53. Mater

    It was a premeditated attack on Anning … who turns up to something like this with eggs? And then records it using alternate POV’s? As someone pointed out elsewhere, if this kid did this to the POTUS he would be dead! He should be charged with assault. As should Annings people who over-reacted. But the kid got his just deserts from Anning.

    And let’s stop calling it an ‘egging’. That implies throwing an egg at someone (from a distance), somewhat more innocent sounding than striking someone with an egg in your hand.
    The ‘adolescent’ struck an Australian Senator. As for the second slap – the kid was coming back at him.

  54. AussieUte

    The sleeper in all of this is that Anning continues to evade liquidator Alan Scott, the Adelaide principal of BRI Ferrier, who has been appointed as the external administrator of the senator’s troubled trading business, Gazelle Rentals Pty Ltd.

    Why is it that so many of the political class have no capacity to manage their own affairs but wish to dictate to the rest of us how to manage our own? Various members of the Greens and the Labor left come to mind here.

    http://bit.ly/2HsvBZh

  55. Tel

    It’s absolutely vital for the Wests survival that free speech be preserved. Which means teddybear Morrison and his crappy party must be dumped of course.

    I agree that free speech and freedom of conscience are both vital, and both under attack. However Anning is not the best example of good use of free speech … I would take Milo over Anning anyday … not only for good looks. But yes, defending rights means defending scoundrels so Anning has a right to his opinion, and a right to retaliate when set upon. Lets see how he does in a real election, I’m guessing he will get a little bit of the bush vote and not much from the cities.

  56. Cynic of Ayr

    Ah yes, you’re at it again! The old bullshit argument.
    “Yes, yes, but, gee whizz, but, 1.2 million people voted to expel him!”
    Gee eh! 1.2 million eh? Who? What demographic? What protection against multiple votes? What Queensland proportion. Did the striking School Kids get a vote? How many votes did your mate Waleed Aly get to post? FMD, if only the muslims voted, you’d get that number!
    It’s bullshit! That means that around 17 million adults either don’t want him expelled, or don’t care either way. I didn’t see any poll to not expel him! I guess it’s known the result wouldn’t suit the agenda.
    To put it another way, But we do have the situation where 17 million people have not signed a petition to get rid of Anning.
    The only sense you made is that it would be dangerous, and undemocratic, for an elected member to be dismissed by any other than his electorate.
    The issue then becomes that minor parties are not very good at vetting candidates anyway…
    Oh! So all minor parties should consult you as to the the suitability of their candidates? What the hell has it got to do with you? If a Party wants to put up Adolf, they can. After all, you said elsewhere we should all learn to live with each other, and tolerate others views etc etc. Seems like the views must be the same as yours.
    I think you should be able – being an edumacated Perfessor and all that – to glean from the commenters here, this being conservative blog, just which way the wind blows, and it aint in the direction of Mecca!

  57. Destroyer D69

    A primer on Right of Recall

    System of Recall: Advantages and Disadvantages of Recall System
    Article shared by :

    Recall means that the sovereign power lies with the people and they have the right to recall their representatives, whether the representatives are legislators or high officials, if they fail to perform their functions in a proper manner.

    Foreman writes, “Where the recall is in use, the voters upon the complaint or petition of a certain number of citizens, vote upon the question whether a certain officer shall be deprived of (recalled from) his office before his term expires and if the vote is in favour of the officer’s removal, he must give up his office before the end of his term”.

    According to Leacock, “The system means that all persons who hold office must do so only as long as their tenure of office is sanctioned by the will of the people. At any time when a majority of the voters desire it, the office-holder is removed from his office”.

    Prevalence of this System:

    This system is prevalent in some of the American States like Arkansas, Kikhoma, Montana. North Dakota, Oregon, Arezona, Louisiana, Nevada, California and Washington. In Washington, judges cannot be removed in this manner but in Oregon even the judges are recalled. In six states of America both the judges and the officials can be recalled and in ten states only officials can be recalled.

    This system is also seen in Communist China. In China, Deputies to the Local People’s Congress are elected by the people of the age of 18 years or above. The voters can recall the members of the Local People’s Congress at will. This system is not in practice in India and there is no mention of it in the Constitution.
    Advantages of the System of Recall:

    (1) Real Control of the masses over the officials and representatives:

    The people can exercise their sovereign power only when they are given the right to recall their elected representatives or the official, if they fail to perform their responsibilities in a proper manner. If the people are not given the right to recall their representatives, they are apt to act arbitrarily and the people will have no control whatsoever over their elected representatives.

    (2) An important method to end bribery and corruption:

    The officials will not indulge in corrupt practices because of the fear of recall.

    (3) This system is a symbol of direct democracy:

    Recall is the best system of the preservation of direct democracy. If the people have no control over their elected representatives or officials, democracy will become meaningless and the representatives and the officials will act arbitrarily.

    (4) A good method to root out political corruption:

    In democracy it is generally seen that the ministers become corrupt and they favour their relatives and friends. Through the system of recall, they will be under the control of the people. For fear of recall, they will hesitate to do any undesirable thing. The ministers indulge in corrupt practices because the people have no control over them.
    Disadvantages of the Recall System:

    (1) There is possibility of a wrong judgment:

    In the system of recall there is a possibility of a big leader indulging in creating a misunderstanding among the minds of the people against any official, with whom the leader is not on good terms. Mostly the people are not aware of the diplomatic tactics of the political leaders and sometimes wrong decisions are given against honest and sincere officials.

    (2) The whole atmosphere is vitiated by the recall of the officers and the representatives:

    When an official or a representative is recalled, charges are leveled against him. The official or the representative against whom charges are leveled tries to level counter-charges against his complainants. With charges and counter­charges the entire atmosphere is poisoned.

    (3) Independence of the officers is curtailed:

    Because of the fear of charges and counter-charges, sometimes intelligent able and honest persons hesitate to accept high positions. This is quite harmful for the administration.

    (4) Independence of the officers is curtailed:

    Because of t he fears of recall, the officers do not take such decisions as may not be liked by the political leaders. If they take any such decisions, they face a severe criticism and adverse propaganda. Thus, the officers sometimes try to flatter the political leaders. This curtails their freedom of action.

    (5) Serious consequences may occur if the judges are recalled:

    The system of the recall of the Judges destroy, the liberty of the judiciary, the judges will not be able to take any decision independently and fearlessly because of the fear of being recalled.

    (6) Independence of the judgement of the representatives is lost:

    Because of the fear of recall, the representatives do not do any unpopular but right thing. This mars their independence.
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  58. Destroyer D69

    Substitute the appropriate Australian references and this would be a good start to the discussion , “.To be delivered to Governor Ron DeSantis, The Florida State House, The Florida State Senate

    Whereas the voters of Florida have politicians that routinely pass legislation and take executive privilege beyond the voters’ expressed desires, we demand the right to recall politicians (both legislative and executive) who fail to meet the electorate’s mandates. We further demand that both the Florida constitution and city charters be amended to include the right of recall, and such right shall not be more stringently restricted than it is in other states that currently recognize the right in their respective bodies of law.

    Background

    Currently we the citizens of Florida have no legal method to get rid of the government that is bankrupting us. Our present governor has a voter satisfaction rating that is lower than any other governor and a legislature that supports or even expands on his disastrous policies.”

  59. Zatara

    There are more than one motivation for recall laws. Some less public spirited than others.

    That demand for recall in Florida Destroyer D69 posted was actually first created as a petition in 2011. As was that background paragraph.

    Then, like now, a Republican had been elected Governor after yet another nasty election in Florida where the Dems got caught in major voter fraud, misplacing and magically finding votes, insisting on recounts which they then attempted to rig, still lost the vote and refused to accept that. Rather like their national elections actually.

    Then, like now, the petition for a recall measure was an attempt by the Democrats to muddy the waters and distract the Governor and Legislature from their duties the same way the Dems are using ‘Russian collusion’ investigations to hamstring Trump. In other words, to gum up the works, impugn their legitimacy, and prevent them from doing their jobs.

    In a world where political parties act at least semi-responsibly I’d support a recall measure being available. But that’s not the world we live in now. Thus a recall law can, and most certainly will, be yet another tool to be used by the Democrats to harass and interfere with Republican administrations.

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