Scott Ludlam Resigns From The Senate; Victim Of Section 44 Dual Citizenship Rule

Scott Ludlam, an Australian Greens senator from Western Australia, resigned today, after announcing he had dual citizenship with New Zealand and was therefore in breach of Section 44(i) of the Constitution.

Ludlam

Section 44(i) of the Constitution says that a person is “incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator” if they are “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject of a citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.

In a statement, Ludlam said he was born in New Zealand. His family left when he was three years old and settled in Australia when he was nine. “I was naturalised when I was in my mid-teens and assumed that was the end of the New Zealand citizenship.”

Media reports today say that the citizenship question has been previously raised with Ludlam.

Ludlam, 47, was first elected to the Senate in 2007. He took up his seat on July 1, 2008. He was re-elected in 2013 and in the 2014 re-run election. He was re-elected to a six-year term in the 2016 double dissolution election. The Greens polled 10.53% in WA.

Ludlam has been Joint Deputy Leader of the Greens, with Larissa Waters, since May 2015.

It now appears that the Senate will refer the matter to the High Court. Twice this year, the court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, has ordered countbacks following rulings that Rodney Culleton and Bob Day were not entitled to nominate at the election. Assuming this takes place again, the seat will go to the number three candidate on the Greens WA Senate ticket, 22-year-old disability advocate Jordon Steele-John.

Media reports today quote Steele-John as not committing himself to taking the seat. Were he to resign, a casual vacancy would be created and the Greens would nominate a replacement. It would be possible for Ludlam to be appointed in these circumstances, provided he rectifies the citizenship issue. However, Ludlam’s statement and press conference suggested he has chosen to move on to other things.

The practical political implication of today’s resignation by Ludlam is that the Greens will be without one of their number for some months in the Senate. This will not make a significant difference but until the vacancy is filled the Turnbull government will only need eight of the eleven crossbench votes to secure passage of legislation opposed by the ALP and Greens. It currently needs nine extra votes. A pairing arrangement to cover the absence could also be put in place.

Ludlam is the third senator to fall victim to Section 44 since the 2016 election, an unprecedented situation.

  • Watch Ludlam’s media conference in Perth (15m)
  • Listen to the media conference (15m)

Statement from Senator Scott Ludlam. Click to enlarge

Ludlam


Party Discipline Trumps Policy Commitment: Gary Gray Supports Senate Voting Reform But Will Vote Against It

Gray Gray has reaffirmed his support for reform of the Senate voting system but committed himself to supporting the ALP Caucus decision to oppose the bill currently before the Parliament.

Gray, the Labor member for Brand in Western Australia, spoke in the House of Representatives today on the Turnbull government’s Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill which proposes elminating group voting tickets and introducing optional preferential voting above-the-line in Senate ballots.

Gray was a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) which made bipartisan recommendations in favour of sweeping changes to the Senate voting system. Gray said he supported the government’s bill but it would be a better bill if the JSCEM’s recommendations were adopted in full. [Read more…]


Turnbull Announces Senate Voting Reforms; Group Voting Tickets Abolished

Senate group voting tickets are to be abolished and optional preferential above the line voting is to be introduced, in electoral reforms announced today by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The reforms are the result of an agreement with the Australian Greens and independent Senator Nick Xenophon. The agreement guarantees 44 Senate votes to pass the legislation.

The key change is the abolition of Senate group voting tickets. This will mean that political parties will no longer control the direction of preferences cast by electors who vote above the line in the Senate. This eliminates the preference harvesting that has resulted in candidates with tiny first preference support being elected as the result of complex preference swaps. [Read more…]


ALP Submission To JSCEM Review Of 2013 Federal Election

This is the ALP’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ review of the 2013 Federal Election.

The committee conducts a review of every federal election.

The ALP’s submission bears the signature of the party’s National Secretary, George Wright. Amongst other things, it calls for reform of the Senate voting system by introducing optional preferential voting above and below the line. [Read more…]


Government Releases Second Electoral Reform Green Paper

The Australian government has released a Green Paper on electoral reform.

The Green Paper is titled, “Strengthening Australia’s Democracy”. It was released by the Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State, Joe Ludwig.

The paper follows last year’s release of a Green Paper on election funding, donations and expenditure.

This document deals with a broader range of issues and options relating to Australia’s electoral systems.

09-09-01_strengthening-australias-democracy_green-paper


Democrats Attack Howard Amendments To Electoral Laws

In this speech, Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Murray lashed the Howard government over its changes to the electoral system.

Second Reading : Electoral & Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity & Other Measures) Bill 2006

Senator MURRAY (Western Australia) (9.21 a.m.) – In making my remarks on the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2006, I would like to be on the record as stating that this bill represents yet another appalling outcome of coalition control of the Senate. It is a bill that in many respects blatantly seeks to advantage the coalition. From the words electoral integrity in the title of this bill, one would assume its provisions are motivated by an intention to improve our representative democracy, to improve the democratic and electoral rights of Australians. [Read more…]


Queenslanders Embracing Optional Preferential Voting

Queensland and New South Wales are the only States to employ the Optional Preferential System of voting.

Optional Preferential, unlike the compulsory preferential system used in other States and in the House of Representatives, allows voters to cast as many or as few preferences as they wish.

For example, a voter may simply place the number “1” next to a candidate and leave all other squares blank. This will count as a formal vote. Of course, if preferences are needed to find a winner, this vote will be exhausted and the voter will have missed the opportunity to influence the result. [Read more…]