Further to Monday’s “Getting it right on Lightfoot”, Hugo Kelly rightly noted
that the danger to John Howard with Lightfoot’s antics is not that Lightfoot
will resign or be removed as Senator (he would just be replaced by another
Liberal), but that he might leave the Liberal Party and become an eccentric,
Mal Coulston-like independent.

An even greater danger would be if the police or some other regulatory body
began an investigation into Lightfoot’s behaviour. The pressure for Lightfoot
to stand aside – not attend the Senate – for the period of the investigation
would be enormous. There goes the one seat Senate majority for the duration!

An even more disturbing scenario for Howard could be a situation where the
outgoing Senate suspends Lightfoot pending an independent, perhaps judicial,
investigation. Although unusual, the Senate definitely has the power to suspend
(although not expel) a Senator (see Halsbury’s Laws of England, para 1027, and
Commonwealth Constitution, section 49).

A long investigation would deprive the conservatives of their majority for
months, if not more than a year. The new Senate could perhaps lift the
suspension, but the Coalition would need the support of the Family First
Senator (Lightfoot being unable to vote while suspended). Would the Family
First Senator vote to a) dilute his own power and b) undermine an investigation
already underway?

So there are reasons why Lightfoot’s behaviour may still be causing John Howard
some heartburn.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.