Culleton Ineligible To Nominate For Senate, High Court Rules; Recount Likely To Elect Peter Georgiou

The High Court has ruled that Rodney Culleton was ineligible to be nominated for last year’s Senate election.

Culleton’s position as a senator is now vacant and the High Court has ruled that a recount of votes should take place. This is most likely to result in the election of Peter Georgiou, Culleton’s brother-in-law and the number two candidate on the Western Australian One Nation ticket last year.

The decision by Justices Kiefel, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Nettle was unanimous. Justice Nettle offered reasons which varied in some respects with his colleagues (see decision below).

Sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, the court held that at the time of the election Culleton was convicted and subject to be sentenced for an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer. Under Section 44(ii) of the Constitution, this renders Culleton ineligible to be chosen as a senator.

The court rejected arguments that the subsequent annulment of the conviction made him eligible to stand. The decision says: “It is evident from the terms of s 44(ii) that the framers of the Constitution were concerned to ensure that not only should a person who has already been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one year or longer be disqualified from being chosen or from sitting as a Senator; so too should a person who is able to be so sentenced. The circumstance sought to be guarded against was that such a person might not be able to sit and should for that reason not be able to be chosen.” [Read more…]


Susan Kiefel Sworn In As 13th Chief Justice Of The High Court Of Australia

Susan Kiefel has been sworn in as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

Kiefel

Kiefel was sworn in at 10am in a ceremony at the High Court in Canberra. The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, dressed in wig and gown, addressed the court following the ceremony.

Kiefel, 63, is the 13th Chief Justice of the court since it was established in 1903. She succeeds Robert French, who served from 2008.

Under of the Section 72 of the Constitutution, Kiefel must retire by January 17, 2024, when she turns 70. [Read more…]


Susan Kiefel Appointed First Woman Chief Justice Of High Court; James Edelman Fills Vacancy

The Turnbull government has appointed Justice Susan Kiefel as the Chief Justice of the High Court.

KiefelKiefel was first appointed to the High Court in 2007 by the Howard government. She is the longest-serving member of the court and will become the 13th Chief Justice, the first woman Chief Justice and the fourth Chief Justice from Queensland. She will replace Chief Justice Robert French, who was appointed by the Rudd government in 2008.

Kiefel’s appointment means that all three arms – parliament, executive and judicial – of the Australian political system will now have been led by a woman.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis also announced that James Edelman will fill the vacant position on the court. Edelman, has been a judge of the Federal Court since 2015, after serving as a Justice of the Western Australian Supreme Court since 2011. He is a former Professor of Law at Oxford University.

Edelman is 42. He turns 43 on January 9. When he is sworn in on January 30, he will become the fourth youngest Justice of the Court, just behind Sir Owen Dixon, who was 42 years, 9 months and 7 days old when he was appointed in 1929. [Read more…]


High Court Unanimously Dismisses Challenge To Senate Voting Changes

The High Court has unanimously dismissed a challenge to the recently legislated Senate voting changes.

The seven Justices dismissed two applications, including one by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day.

The changes abolished group voting tickets and introduced optional preferential voting above and below the line.

The court held that the term “method” in Section 9 of the Constitution “is to be considered broadly, allowing for more than one way of indicating choice within a single uniform electoral system”. [Read more…]


High Court To Hear Challenge To Senate Voting Reforms On May 2

The High Court will hear the constitutional challenge to the Senate voting reforms on May 2.

The Chief Justice, Robert French, fixed the hearing date during a directions hearing today.

The challenge has been brought by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day. His barrister is Peter King, the former Liberal MP who was defeated by Malcolm Turnbull in a 2004 preselection battle in Wentworth.

During the 22-minute hearing, it was agreed that an affidavit by Malcolm Mackerras, the election expert and psephologist, would not be used in the hearing.

The May 2 hearing is the day before the Federal Budget is delivered. It is nine days before the May 11 deadline for the calling of a double dissolution election.

The transcript of today’s hearing appears below. [Read more…]


Written Submissions Lodged For High Court Challenge To Senate Voting Reforms

These are the written submissions lodged with the High Court by Senator Bob Day and the Commonwealth, as part of the hearing of a challenge to the Senate voting reforms.

Day, a Family First senator, has brought the challenge. The matter is listed at 10.00am today for the Court to make directions as to referral to a Full Court. [Read more…]


High Court Rejects Refugee Challenge To Offshore Processing And Resettlement

The High Court has rejected an attempt to strike down Australia’s policy of offshore processing, detention and resettlement.

In essence, the High Court has found that the asylum seeker arrangements with Nauru are legal. Asylum-seekers now face deportation to Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The court found that the Bangladeshi woman who brought the case had standing but rejected her substantive argument. [Read more…]