Jun 10, 2014

Lawyers at 20 paces as Victoria’s crisis turns constitutional

Labor will today try to expel controversial MP Geoff Shaw. It is acting upon legal advice, but it is likely the move will result in a legal challenge. ACIL Allen Consulting public policy and governance expert Stephen Bartos explains the looming battle.

Victoria’s state Labor opposition has said it will move a motion today to expel member for Frankston Geoff Shaw. The party has had advice from constitutional law professor George Williams that Victorian Parliament has the power to expel members, which it can exercise at its discretion. The advice suggested that a challenge to the expulsion would be unlikely to succeed, provided the motion was worded properly. Even so, if there is an expulsion motion there will almost certainly be legal action. It will be wall-to-wall constitutional lawyers at 20 paces duelling it out in the Victorian courts.

Speaking on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning Labor shadow attorney-general Martin Pakula acknowledged that whether Parliament could expel a member was different to whether it should, and he avoided commenting on whether Williams had advised on this. In terms of good governance, the merits or otherwise of expulsion are broader than the legal issues.

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6 thoughts on “Lawyers at 20 paces as Victoria’s crisis turns constitutional

  1. David Hand

    The most interesting possibility of a precedent setting expulsion from parliament for rorting expenses is how many other MPs in all houses in Australia might then be vulnerable to expulsion.

  2. puddleduck

    I second the motion, Mr Hand. The problem we have is that Mr Shaw’s conduct is unlikely to be an isolated example.

    Poorly written piece by Stephen Bartos – or did you forget to edit it, Crikey?

  3. AR

    I stand aghast at the precedent that it will set once the Silks have ceased rustling.
    Not looking at the not yet set,new, Senate or nuthin’…

  4. zut alors

    Let Shaw cop it sweet from his electorate in six months’ time.

  5. klewso

    I like the precedent set of what to do with those that abuse their “entitlements” – book promotions, out-of-pocket charity expenses, weddings, parties, anything – imagine that being taken to Canberra?

  6. JohnB

    In, say, 5 years’ time, will the purported wrongdoings of Mr Shaw appear significant? I think not.

    Let the electorate deal with this in due course and get back to work, boys and girls. This debate is not worth the associated risks.

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