The High Court heard today there were doubts about the eligibility of former crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie’s replacement, Devonport mayor Steve Martin, as well as Rob Waterman – the last candidate on her party’s ticket at the 2016 federal election.
Martin, the court heard, could be disqualified on the basis of holding an “office of profit under the Crown”.
The same issue could also apply to Waterman, who is CEO of Rural Health Tasmania.
Rural Health Tasmania’s annual report for 2017 said it received funding from several federal government programs run by the departments of health and social services.
Once a special count by the electoral commission next Tuesday confirms Martin as Lambie’s replacement, the court will then consider whether he is eligible at a hearing in January.
Former One Nation candidate Kate McCulloch is a party to the case, as she believes she could be in with a chance to take the Tasmanian seat if the Lambie ticket is totally disqualified and fresh count of preferences occurs.
The court also heard Nick Xenophon Team senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore, who resigned over her dual citizenship, wants to be able to contest a court-ordered special count because her former running mate Tim Storer had quit the party since the 2016 poll.
Her counsel, David Jackson QC, told the court that Kakoschke-Moore had renounced her UK citizenship since resigning.
Jackson said Storer’s election in a special count would “not reflect the choice exercised by the voters” of South Australia.
A directions hearing will be held in late January.
Storer was not represented at the hearing.
The replacement of former Senate president and Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry, who also discovered he was a UK dual citizen, will be done via a special count next Tuesday.
He is expected to be replaced by former Senator Richard Colbeck.
Constitutional expert George Williams said in the case of former senator Lambie, if her whole party ticket was disqualified the preferences in a special count would flow to another party.
“A different candidate from a different party would be elected,” he told AAP.
In the case of Storer, Williams said the only relevant factor would be that he was a member of NXT at the time of the election – not what had happened since.
It would then be possible for Storer to be elected in the special count and sit as an independent senator.
All parties to the cases will have their costs covered by the Commonwealth.
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