I have taken the liberty of republishing Philip Benwell’s letter to the Prime Minister as he makes arguably a very good point – constitutionally.
5 March 2012
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Office of the Prime Minister
Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister,
We understand that, when you announced the appointment of the Hon. Robert Carr to your ministry as Minister for Foreign Affairs on Friday 2 March 2012, you stated directly and without consideration for the niceties of our conventions, that Mr Carr ‘would be appointed’ to the Senate.
We point out to you that such a statement shows no regard whatsoever for the due processes of appointment under the Australian Constitution.
In accordance with Section 15 – Casual Vacancies – as amended in 1977, it is the Parliament of the State in which the vacancy occurs that “shall choose a person to hold the place until the expiration of the term” and that the person so chosen shall be of the same political party as that of the retiring senator he is replacing. Therefore, in accordance with the Constitution, it is the State parliament which chooses and the State Governor who certifies the appointment to the Governor-General.
The replacement for Mr Arbib’s senate seat has therefore nothing constitutionally to do with you as prime minister, but lies solely within the purview of the State parliament. To arbitrarily declare that Mr Carr will be appointed to the Senate shows a total disregard both for our Constitution and for the parliament of New South Wales.
We suggest that you apologise to the people of Australia and to the NSW parliament along with an appropriate rewording of your comments.