• Government backs Tasmanian mayor to replace Jacqui Lambie

    Devonport Mayor Steve Martin will be the Jacqui Lambie Network’s lead Senate candidate in Tasmania. Picture: Cordell Richardson. .The Turnbull government has officially backed a Tasmanian mayor to replace Jacqui Lambie in the Senate, potentially frustrating Pauline Hanson’s plan to seize a fourth seat for One Nation.

    In a submission to the High Court released on Monday, government solicitor Stephen Donaghue argues there is no constitutional barrier to prevent Devonport mayor Steve Martin taking up the seat.

    Mr Martin was second on Ms Lambie’s ticket at the 2016 election. Ms Lambie quit last month after getting caught up in the dual citizenship fiasco that claimed careers across Federal Parliament.

    But question were instantly raised about Mr Martin’s own eligibility, with claims his role as a councillor and mayor could be considered “an office of profit under the crown” – also forbidden under section 44 of the constitution.

    One Nation intervened in the case because its candidate – Kate McCulloch – could be poised to seize the seat if the Jacqui Lambie Network’s candidates were knocked out.

    But Mr Donaghue says Mr Martin’s local government roles cannot be considered an office of profit under the crown.

    “The offices of mayor and councillor under the Local Government Act are elected offices, with specified terms,” he says.

    “Appointment to those offices obviously is not in the gift of the executive. The confined powers of the executive government to dismiss the occupants of those offices, or to affect the remuneration that attaches to them, fall far short of establishing that, in substance or practical effect, ongoing occupancy of either office is in the gift of the executive government.”

    Mr Martin also lodged his submission, arguing the local government offices he holds are not under the Crown “because of the high degree of independence of those offices from the executive government”.

    In her submission last week, Ms McCulloch – a right-wing anti-Muslim firebrand who has been described as “the next Pauline Hanson” – argued Mr Martin was “incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator” because of the roles.

    The court will hold a hearing into the matter in February.

    If Ms McCulloch was to take up the seat it would restore Senator Hanson’s bloc of four, diminished to three after Fraser Anning quit the party.

    Ms Hanson is now threatening to refer Senator Anning to the High Court in a bid to have him kicked out and replaced with another One Nation politician. She claims Senator Anning could be bankrupt, even though recent bankruptcy proceedings against him were dropped.

    Senator Anning dismissed Senator Hanson’s threat as “frivolous”.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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