The Electoral Matters Committee has released its report into matters related to Section 44 of the Constitution.
The Committee has recommended that the Government prepare a referendum question to either repeal sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution or insert the words ‘Until Parliament so provides…’ into both sections.
Committee Chair Senator Linda Reynolds said the report found that s. 44 was becoming increasingly undemocratic and that future referrals to the High Court would be inevitable.
“Problems with s. 44 are neither new, nor unforeseen,” Senator Reynolds said.
“20 years of Parliamentary Committee reports and a Constitutional Convention have all predicted that without constitutional reform to parts or all of s. 44, challenges would occur to otherwise qualified and validly elected Members of Parliament.
“We believe that issue is one for Australians to consider as part of a wider debate on qualities we want in our candidates when they stand for election and for those who are elected to Parliament.”
Senator Reynolds said while the Committee has recommended a referendum to permanently fix the problems with s. 44, it acknowledged the preconditions for a successful referendum do not yet exist and may take time to achieve.
Until such time a referendum is successful in providing Australians or their elected representatives the ability to change disqualifications, the committee has recommended the Federal Government consider implementing a range of mitigation strategies.
Senator Reynolds said the first measures should be in place before the conduct of the upcoming by-elections to minimise the chance of those elections being challenged in the High Court.
Visit the Committee's website to read the full report.