Demo Party ponders next steps

Thursday March 09, 2017 Written by Published in Politics
William (Smiley) Heather. 16122331 William (Smiley) Heather. 16122331

The Democratic Party is still considering its next steps over the decision of the High Court in relation to Albert Nicholas’ parliamentary seat.


But, the party’s leader William (Smiley) Heather says he is heartened to note that the High Court has agreed the Democrats’ view of the way the anti-vaka jumping legislation works is correct.

“The High Court endorsed the position of the Democratic Party, which is that the Speaker has no decision-making role in respect of notices requiring a member to vacate their seat, and that in the normal course a member’s seat becomes vacant upon receipt of a valid notice,” he says.

“The Democratic Party also notes the comments of the High Court about the decision of the Solicitor-General, on behalf of the government, to seek to have the Electoral Amendment Act 2007 declared unconstitutional.

“The Democratic Party is not aware of another situation where a government has sought to have the law it is charged with upholding declared unconstitutional. Neither had the court found such a situation.”

The court says: “It is unprecedented in our experience for the Senior Law Officer of the Crown and a Member of Government to challenge the constitutionality of a statute.”

The Democratic Party is pleased that the High Court agreed with its submission that the Electoral Amendment Act was constitutional, and strikes a fair balance between the rights of members and the community’s interests.

Smiley says his party again calls upon Minister of Internal Affairs Albert Nicholas to honour the promise he made to the Democrats - and to the people of the RAPPA constituency - to resign as an MP if he changed from the Democratic Party.

“If he believes he is acting with integrity and in line with the wishes of his constituency, he should go back to the people and have them confirm his position in a by-election. His repeated failure to do so speaks volumes.”

The Democratic Party says it welcomes the finding that “the Clerk of Parliament exceeded his office and powers” when he denied members of the Opposition access to the Parliament building.

Smiley says: “The Democratic Party argued that was the case, and the court has agreed. The Democratic Party hopes that this will mean the Clerk and other officers of parliament, consider and act in accordance with their constitutional roles going forward.

“The court took the view that Albert Nicholas’ seat was not vacated because there was unanimous approval of the second vote in favour of the Budget.

“The Democratic Party’s position is that it did not vote in favour of the Budget, and so is considering its next steps in relation to the judgment.”

            - RM/Release

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