Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Thursday, 17 May 2018
We welcome the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ (JSCEM) report into section 44 of the Constitution, in particular their practical recommendations on how to improve nomination arrangements for candidates for election to the Australian Parliament.
While the Government is not inclined to pursue a referendum to change section 44 of the Constitution at this time, we will give due consideration to the findings and recommendations of the Committee.
As the Committee itself recognised, successful Constitutional change is challenging and making the case would take more time than is available prior to the next general election.
The Government is however taking active steps now to minimise the risk of a recurrence of the eligibility issues that have arisen in the 45th Parliament.
We intend to move now to improve the existing candidate nomination process for elections in accordance with the relevant unanimous JSCEM recommendations on these matters.
We will consult swiftly with relevant stakeholders on proposed changes to give effect to the JSCEM recommendations on improvements to the nomination arrangements to ensure these improved processes will be in place for the upcoming by-elections.
Under those changes, candidates for election to the Australian Parliament would provide information upon nomination to the AEC consistent with the information that was recently requested from all current Members and Senators for inclusion on the Citizenship Register, as well as information on other potential disqualifications under section 44 of the constitution.
The eligibility of members and Senators to sit in the Australian Parliament has been the subject of an appropriately high level of public interest. It is important that we implement measures now, to provide voters with confidence that their elected representatives are qualified to sit in Parliament.
Increasing the transparency of information relevant to the status of candidates for elected office under section 44 of the Constitution is an important step in restoring the confidence of the public in our democratic processes.
The Government is committed to ensuring the constitutional legitimacy of the Australian Parliament.
Karen Wu - 0428 350 139