The Tasmanian Greens today described as encouraging, comments by the Attorney-General David Bartlett, in relation to their push to reform the State’s Constitution Act 1934 to ensure that elected representatives cannot remain on local councils should they also be elected to either House of the State Parliament.

Greens Shadow Attorney-General spokesperson Kim Booth MP, who has tabled amending legislation in the past, said that with Mr Bartlett’s previous commitments to democratic and parliamentary reforms, there was a natural fit with the Greens’ proposed reforms.

Mr Booth also said that the Greens have previously proposed that should amendments be passed by the State Parliament to the Constitution Act 1934, they should also be ratified via a public referendum.

“Currently the State’s Constitution Act stipulates that someone cannot sit in both the Federal or State Parliament’s concurrently, however it remains legal to sit in either the House of Assembly or the Legislative Council at the same time as holding a position on a local council,” Mr Booth said.

“The Greens do not believe that any one person can do justice to their elected responsibilities when they attempt to be both a Local Councillor as well as a Member of Parliament.”

“We are encouraged by the comments made by the Attorney-General today, that he also personally believes that dual-seats cannot serve the voter well, although he has yet to commit to formally looking at bringing in the necessary legislative reforms.”

“This does need to be addressed, to ensure Tasmanian voters get real value for their vote, and their taxpayer funds, and the Greens are committed to bringing in our own reform Bill to get the public debate rolling.”

“Already there is one Member of the House of Assembly who also has retained his local council seat, and there are three Members of the Legislative Council who are also local councillors. This number could increase in the upcoming May Legislative Council elections.”

When contesting the 2002 State election, Mr Booth was a member of the Meander Valley Council, however upon his election to the State Parliament he resigned his Council seat at the Declaration of the Polls.

Background to Greens’ Push on Constitution Act 1934 reform:

• The Greens’ Constitution Amendment (Membership of State Parliament) Bill, was first tabled by Kim Booth MP in 2002. When debated it was defeated by both Labor and Liberals.
• In 2004, Mr Booth retabled the Bill.
• The Greens’ Proposal seeks to amend Section 31 of the Constitution Act 1934, to insert similar provision regarding membership of the Commonwealth Parliament, to apply to holding seats in both the State Parliament and local government.
• If successful, the Act would then require a referendum to affirm the legislation (this is consistent with the Greens’ Policy that the significant Constitution Act 1934 should not be amended without those amendments also going to the public.

*Picture: of Mark Shelton, Liberal Member for Lyons and Meander Valley Council Mayor

CHALLENGE TO RUMNEY CANDIDATES
Declare Position on Sitting in Both State Parliament and Local Councils at the Same Time
Penelope Ann Greens Candidate for the Legislative Council

The Tasmanian Greens have issued a challenge to all candidates running for the Legislative Council seat of Rumney to declare their position on elected representatives holding a seat in the State Parliament at the same time as they sit on local council.

Penelope Ann, the Greens candidate in the upcoming Legislative Council election, today described the notion of holding both a council seat and a seat in the Legislative Council as ludicrous, and one that does not provide full value to the voter.

“The people of Rumney deserve nothing short of absolute commitment from their elected representative, and I am challenging all candidates running for this seat to declare whether they think it is appropriate to hold two seats at the same time,” Ms Ann said.

“in particular those Legislative Council candidates who currently hold a council seat owe the community they seek to represent an answer as to where their priorities lie.”

“The Greens will be introducing in the Lower House legislative reforms to amend the Constitution Act 1934 to prevent people sitting in either House of the State Parliament at the same time they retain an elected position on a local council. This reform mirrors the current situation that rules out simultaneous dual membership of both State and Federal Parliaments.”

“I have been door knocking and making myself available to the residents of Rumney and I am overwhelmed by their expressions of frustration. They are frustrated with the rising costs of basic goods and services, the lack of public transport and above all they speak of feeling neglected.”
“The voters of Rumney deserve to know if their future elected representative intends to give them their undivided attention,” Ms Ann said.