Monday, 20 April 2015

Joint Select Committee on Elelctoral Matters

Got this from parliament house, the JSCEM

Dear Tony
The role of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) is to inquire into matters relating to electoral laws and practices and its administration as referred to it by either House of the Parliament or a Minister.  The matters that may be referred by the House include reports by the Commonwealth Auditor-General. The Committee could also inquire into matters raised in annual reports of Commonwealth Government departments and authorities.

Further reading on S. 44 that may interest you can be found here.

FYI - The JSCEM Committee recently tabled a report inquiring into the 2013 Federal Election and can be found here.

Any problems relating to S44 must be referred to the JSCEM  by either the House or the Senate, or a Minister, as such Abbott is well and truly protected at the moment.

The JSCEM can hear public submissions shortly after elections, the links relate to several private individuals and businesses contacting them.  Don't know if someone asking about S44 would be acted upon but another way to do things after the next election


Letter from the Clerk of the House of Representatives 

Thank you for your email about compliance of members of Parliament with S44 of the Constitution.

Neither I nor my office have responsibility for monitoring compliance of members with S44.

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 either House of Parliament may, by resolution, refer any question concerning the qualification of a member to the Court of Disputed Returns (the High Court) for determination. Also the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that a person’s qualifications to serve as a member may be challenged by way of a petition to the Court of Disputed Returns.

House of Representatives Practice, the definitive procedural publication of the House’s practice outlines a number of cases where the qualifications of members have been challenged. I attach for your information the relevant extract from House of Representatives Practice.

I hope this information is of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely

The file sent with this email is here:- 


And clarification from the Seante:-  

Thank you for your email enquiring about who is responsible for ensuring that members of parliament comply with section 44 of the constitution.

The mechanism for assessing the qualifications of senators is outlined in length in Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice (13th edn, pp 128-9, 157-66) which states that “Under sections 376 to 381 of [the Commonwealth Electoral] Act either House [of Parliament] may refer any question concerning the qualifications of its members to the High Court, which is constituted as the Court of Disputed Returns, to hear and determine the question” (p. 164). Matters concerning the election, choice or appointment of a senator outside the jurisdiction of the Court of Disputed Returns can be brought before the Senate (standing order 207). The Senate department does not proactively monitor section 44 of the Constitution or actively query senators about their compliance with the law.

Candidates sign declarations relating to their eligibility for candidacy at the time of their nomination through the AEC although, as you mention in your email, there is no obligation on the Australian Electoral Commission to determine whether a person is disqualified at the time of the person’s nomination.  Rather there is a 40-day  window of opportunity available to any citizen to dispute the validity of a candidate’s election.

I hope this has been of some assistance.

If you want to keep me out of poverty, please send a penny or two.  I am one of those pov-liners who can't afford to drive a car and for who a cup of coffee or a glass of beer is out of the question.

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