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The constitution is more than a vibe

10/05/2012

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The FWA report into the HSU is out and it is very very hard to read and not get angry. And while that is perfectly fine for ordinary citizens like us to shout and for comedians to comb the report for great new material, the role of parliamentarians is vastly different. They are sworn to uphold the constitution.

While the report findings on the allegations made makes many to cry for justice, their hands are tied. And the coalition know this.

When the authors of the constitution wrote it, they made it a document that is not bound by morality. It is strictly a clear set of rules and regulations on how parliament is to operate and the powers of that parliament. One power they do not have is the power to expel a MP from office unless :

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – SECT 44

Disqualification
Any person who:

(i) is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

(ii) is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

(iii) is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

(iv) holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

(v) has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty‑five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

That is it. Of course the MP in the crosshairs can also resign, but since in this case both maintain no wrong doing, they are not obligated to resign.

Notice people the total lack of morality in this section. The requirement is simply a conviction 12 months imprisonment or longer. Why did they do this? Because morality changes. And they knew this. Not all that was punishable by a year imprisonment 111 years ago is punished this way any more.

Likewise some things have become punishable under the law and were not at the time. So they do not list anything. They allow the society of the day to decide.

Aboriginals did not get an opportunity to vote when the constitution was written. It was actually written that way. Now one sits in the lower house. Times change. Society changes.

But what does not change is there should be a separation of powers between parliament and the judiciary 

So they elected to remove judgement from the parliamentarians and leave it to this section and law. The whole banging the drum thing by the coalition is just that: drum banging.

The law is clear as is the constitution.

It is why MPs on all sides and on the cross benches are frustrated. There is little they can do.

What NEEDS to be done is more care with pre-selection. On BOTH sides. That is what this debate should be about. Not if you can punish someone who is yet to be found guilty.

The irony in all this is Abbott once stood and said he holds the Westminster system high during the 17 days post the last election. Yet here he is trashing the constitution. If he wants this section changed, then he should be calling for a referendum to make those changes. He is not.

The smear he tarnishes one minister now for political expedience will haunt the parliament forever. This man is single handedly destroying the 111 years of faithful service of our constitution for his own political gain.

Beware this man, Abbott. He is not of sound mind or body. And read the constitution here http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/

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 A. Ghebranious (2012)

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