What is it about section 44 of the constitution that keeps tripping up our politicians?

What is it about section 44 of the constitution that keeps tripping up our politicians?

What is it about section 44 of the constitution that keeps tripping up our politicians?

Updated 17 November 2017, 16:30 AEDT

Quite a few things, actually.

Until the 45th Parliament, much of the nation's understanding of the constitution seemed to flow from The Castle.

An unprecedented number of politicians have either been booted from Parliament or had to fend off questions about their eligibility.

So far, 11 sitting or prospective politicians have fallen foul of section 44 of the constitution, ending their political careers for the time being.

But they didn't all get into trouble over the same issue. There are five categories in section 44 that set out who can be a candidate for the federal parliament and — more importantly — who can't.

Citizenship

Put simply, section 44(1) of the constitution says someone can't be a dual national and sit in parliament.

GONE

  • Barnaby Joyce (Nationals) — was a dual national with New Zealand.
  • Fiona Nash (Nationals) — was a dual national with the UK.
  • Malcolm Roberts (One Nation) — was a dual national with the UK.
  • Scott Ludlam (Greens) — was a dual national with New Zealand.
  • Larissa Waters (Greens) — was a dual national with Canada.
  • Stephen Parry (Liberal) — was a dual national with the UK.
  • John Alexander (Liberal) — believed he could have been a dual national with the UK.
  • Jacqui Lambie (Jacqui Lambie Network) — was a dual national with the UK.

QUESTIONS RAISED

There are a swag of others also under a citizenship cloud.

Criminal record

Anyone with a criminal conviction carrying a jail term of one year or more and cannot be elected to parliament, under section 44(2) of the constitution.

GONE

  • Rod Culleton (One Nation/Independent) — had been convicted for theft ahead of nominating for the 2016 election. The conviction was later annulled.

Bankruptcy

Section 44(3) of the constitution bans people declared bankrupt or insolvent from holding office.

GONE

  • Rod Culleton (One Nation/Independent) — Mr Culleton was booted from parliament because of his criminal record, but he was also declared a bankrupt.

Office of profit under the crown

Prospective politicians cannot hold "an office of profit under the crown" and be elected to parliament, under section 44(4) of the constitution.

In other words, public servants have to quit their jobs to run for office.

GONE

  • Hollie Hughes (Liberal) — was in line to replace Fiona Nash in the Senate, but was also ruled ineligible because she took a government job after the election and before the Senate recount.

QUESTIONS RAISED

  • Andrew Bartlett (Greens) — worked for a university at the time of nominating for the 2016 federal election.
  • Steve Martin (Jacqui Lambie Network) — was a local council mayor at the time of the election.

Direct or indirect financial interest

Section 44(5) of the constitution bans politicians from benefitting financially from their role, either directly or indirectly.

That could mean they have a company that gets money through government contracts.

GONE

  • Bob Day (Family First) — a business partner owned the building his electorate office was in, but rent proceeds from the Commonwealth went to another business owned by Mr Day.

QUESTIONS RAISED

  • David Gillespie (Nationals) — owns a suburban shopping centre, and one tenant is an Australia Post outlet.
  • Barry O'Sullivan (Nationals) — his family businesses have benefitted from state and Commonwealth government construction contracts.