SA seeks legal opinion on Joyce decisions

The State Government has asked for legal advice concerning the validity of decisions made by Barnaby Joyce during his time in federal cabinet.

Oct 30, 2017, updated Oct 30, 2017
Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Premier Jay Weatherill says the government wants to be sure decisions Joyce made in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin and on other issues affecting South Australia will stand.

He says he’s asked for that advice as soon as possible to ensure security about any decisions that are beneficial to SA.

“It’s early days. A lot of the things that we’ve been concerned about with Barnaby Joyce are things that he hasn’t done, rather than things that he has done,” Weatherill told ABC radio today.

“We’re just checking through the decisions that may fall foul of the difficulties he’s faced.”

Last week the High Court booted Joyce from parliament because of his dual citizenship.

Federal Labor believes more than 100 Turnbull government decisions are vulnerable to legal challenge as a result of Joyce and Fiona Nash’s dual citizenship status.

The Opposition has received legal advice on a range of decisions which could be challenged after the High Court disqualified Joyce and Nash from parliament.

Among the 118 decisions under threat are ministerial announcements and grants, legislative instruments, water access entitlement payments, elements of the NBN rollout and the mobile black spot program.

Acting Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek said some decisions were likely to have left people feeling aggrieved.

“If they want to pursue the government on some of them, I don’t doubt they will,” Plibersek told ABC radio today.

“No doubt there will be some people who will be wondering whether they were treated fairly and whether decisions were made properly by Fiona Nash and Barnaby Joyce when they weren’t properly elected to the parliament.”

The High Court would be asked to rule on whether the decisions were constitutionally valid, as they were made after the two ministers ceased to hold office last October.

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However, Joyce is confident the decisions he took as a minister will stand because his dismissal is not retrospective.

The former deputy prime minister and four senators were found to hold dual citizenship and constitutionally ineligible to nominate for parliament at the 2016 election.

Joyce said when you are declared in an election, you stay that way until you “die, resign or the High Court finds you ineligible”.

“Not the High Court finds you ineligible, therefore retrospectively, it’s when the High Court finds you ineligible,” he told reporters on the campaign trail in his seat of New England on Sunday.

Voters will go to the polls in his seat of New England on December 2.

Joyce is expected to win, but the government will face a rocky time in the interim after losing its one-seat majority, especially when the House of Representatives next sits in the week of November 27.

Independent MP Cathy McGowan and NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie have indicated they will back the government in a no-confidence motion.

But potential votes on a banking royal commission and keeping Sunday penalty rates could yet prove a splintering headache for the Turnbull government.


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