Mark Latham found himself a cushy number after he lost the leadership of the federal Labor Party. He nominated himself for a seat in the NSW Upper House, the Legislative Assembly, representing Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party : In March 2019, he was elected for an eight year term.
In the NSW Legislative Assembly you don’t actually have to do much apart from appear on Sky after Dark periodically and give the impression of being a man of the people. But Mark’s ambition has been to get more One Nation representatives into the NSW parliament. Not the lower house as they would actually have to be elected, rather the upper house where they aren’t accountable to an electorate. So Mark has come up with a wheeze to get somebody into parliament without actually being elected.
The idea is that with four years remaining in his appointed term, he’s going to resign and create a casual vacancy. Under the Constitution Act 1902 (NSW) the procedure for filling that vacancy does not require a by-election (it’s the upper house you see) but calls for the state Governor to convene a joint sitting of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly to elect a person to fill the vacant seat.
The person nominated for election to fill a vacant seat – and this is where Mark has been doing his homework – must be a member of the same political party as the member he or she replaces at the time that member was elected.
So, Mark resigns and another One Nation luminary takes his place – they call it parachuting – and Mark goes off into semi-retirement somewhere on the NSW North coast ? Not on your Nelly ! Remember, it is Mr Latham’s intention to get more One Nation people into the NSW parliament and this strategy doesn’t achieve that – one out, one in doesn’t work.
This is where it gets tricky as Mark intends to nominate himself again at the state election in March 2023. He’s relying on his name recognition and the ‘donkey vote’ to achieve this. All going to plan, he will be elected for an eight year term next March and will join the person who took his place following his retirement.
This is all legal but is it ethical ? Is it democracy at work ? You be the judge.
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