Queensland’s minority Labor government is in crisis as an MP sacked by the party resists the premier’s call to quit parliament altogether.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has put her government on the line by sacking first-time MP Billy Gordon from the Labor party over domestic abuse allegations and belated revelations about his criminal history.
She is also demanding Mr Gordon’s resignation from the parliament so a by-election can be held in his far north Queensland seat of Cook.
If Labor were to lose that contest to the Liberal National Party, both parties would be left with 43 seats.
Mr Gordon has so far resisted the premier’s calls to end his parliamentary career just two months after he was elected, telling the ABC he’s seeking legal advice.
With a police probe into domestic violence allegations still underway, he says any attempt to force him out of parliament would deny him natural justice.
He also says he needs more time to consider his position, given he’ll be having eye surgery on Monday.
In an earlier statement, he said he’d overcome many challenges in his early life, including family struggles as a young indigenous boy whose parents struggled to provide the basics of life.
‘I recognise that my own personal circumstances are no excuse for my non disclosure, however from this troubled and fractured past I’ve managed to piece together a positive and constructive life,’ he said.
Independent Speaker Peter Wellington says he continues to support the premier and her government, and her call for a by-election is the right thing to do.
‘My support hasn’t changed. It remains that the government has my support if a vote of no confidence is moved,’ he told the ABC.
The crisis means Katter’s Australian Party MPs Rob Katter and Shane Knuth could find themselves kingmakers in the event of a by-election that ties the numbers.
Mr Katter said Labor deserved a chance to govern, but his party would only offer Labor stability if it met some of the things on his wish list.
‘We do want to give them a go at government, but that’s conditional on them meeting some of the commitments that we have and we must demand on behalf of rural and regional Queensland,’ he told the ABC.
University of Queensland law professor Graeme Orr says Mr Gordon can only be forced to resign from parliament if he served more than a year in jail for his offences, which include break and enter and stealing charges dating back 25 years.
Mr Gordon was also subject to an apprehended violence order taken out by his mother in 2008.
Professor Orr told the ABC expelling Mr Gordon from the Labor party was about politics, not the law.
‘So effectively what’s happening is the power of political forces, Palaszczuk, Wellington and the Labor Party, are creating a norm that doesn’t exist formally in the law,’ he said.
In the past week, it’s also been revealed Mr Gordon failed to pay child support and is facing domestic violence allegations against a former partner.