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After 23 years: foiled again.



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Senator Andrew Murray

Australian Democrats Electoral Matters Spokesperson

15 May 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/331

AFTER 23 YEARS….FOILED AGAIN.

The Australian Democrats were disappointed today that the Constitution Alteration (Right to Stand for Parliament - Qualification of Members and Candidates) Bill 1998 (No.2) [2002] failed to pass with an absolute majority in the Senate.

This Bill, if passed, would have brought long overdue changes to the Australian Constitution which was drafted with early 1890s considerations in mind.

Democrats’ Electoral Matters spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray, said: “After 23 years of campaigning, the Australian Democrats are sorry to see that issues arising out of section 44 of the Constitution in regards to the disqualification provisions to stand for public office are still unresolved.”

The Bill proposed two simple requirements: firstly, all candidates for political office be Australian citizens; secondly, the Bill deletes the section dealing with profits under the Crown.

“The Democrats have a long history of trying to rectify this part of the Constitution,” said Senator Murray.

“We have previously sought to alter Section 44(iv) four times through the:

• The Constitution Alteration (Qualifications and Disqualifications of Members of the Parliament) Bill 1985;

• The Constitution Alteration (Qualifications and Disqualifications of Members of the Parliament) Bill 1989;

• The Constitution Alteration (Qualifications and Disqualifications of Members of the Parliament) Bill 1992; and

• The Constitution Alteration (Electors’ Initiative, Fixed Term Parliaments and Qualification of Members) Bill 2000.

“In addition, we have also covered this issue extensively in both the 1996 and 1998 Federal Election Minority Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

“The Constitution was drafted during a different time and changes must be made to reflect the reality of current times.

“We urge the Government to take a strong position of leadership on this matter and bring our Constitution up to date in the 21st century,” concluded Senator Murray.

Media contact: Grace Tan at 0417 174 302

http://www.democrats.org.au