Bob Day: What did Brandis know?

 

The government must immediately come clean on what and when it knew about the potential invalidity of Bob Day’s election to the Australian Senate.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

BOB DAY: WHAT DID BRANDIS KNOW?

 

The government must immediately come clean on what and when it knew about the potential invalidity of Bob Day’s election to the Australian Senate.

 

At a hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on October 14, Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson gave evidence that the day before he had been asked for urgent advice from the Australian Government Solicitor on a matter concerning “the composition of this Senate”:

 

“A senior lawyer from the Australian Government Solicitor came to my office yesterday seeking my urgent advice on a High Court proceeding which has questions of law attached to it which relate to the composition of this Senate….The Attorney-General is actively involved in this matter and is considering questions of law. This matter requires my decision and it requires action on behalf of the Commonwealth, I would say, within a short number of hours or days.”

                                                                                                                        - Justin Gleeson, Solicitor-General, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Hearing, 14 October 2016

 

Did Mr Gleeson give advice that his election was invalid, and was that advice ignored because it was politically inconvenient for the government? If the advice was not concerning Bob Day, what or who was it about? Such questions go to the integrity of our democracy.

 

Senator Brandis must immediately and publicly disclose when he became fully aware of the potential invalidity of Mr Day’s election, and when and from whom legal advice was first sought. If it was not sought from Justin Gleeson, who was it sought from?

 

It is of course concerning that, thanks to Senator Brandis’s appalling behaviour, the government is losing one of the top constitutional lawyers in this country as its chief legal adviser in the midst of the biggest constitutional issue we have seen for some years.

 

If Senator Brandis and the government knew three weeks ago that Mr Day’s election was potentially invalid and did nothing about it until now, we have truly reached a new low in good government in this country. This goes to the functioning of our democracy. There can be nothing more serious.

 

Only a full and clear explanation will suffice at this time of great uncertainty.

 

WEDNESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER