Now that Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash and three other senators have been declared invalidly elected, questions are being asked about whether close parliamentary votes still stand and decisions made by the disqualified ministers can be challenged.
As the issue has not arisen in Australia before, there is no direct judicial authority on the question. We can, however, draw some reasonable conclusions based on how the courts have dealt with analogous issues in the past.
Over the years, quite a few MPs have been disqualified at both the Commonwealth and state levels, but no-one has ever challenged the validity of a law passed in reliance on the vote of a disqualified member.
The only Australian authority is the 1907 case of Vardon…
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