For your urgent attention by Sen. Van
As you know, I hold concerns about the erosion of democracy within the Victorian Liberal Party that has occurred under the veiled excuse of COVID-19. The key platform that underpins our Party’s democracy is the annual State Council. This vital part of our democratic process has not been held for nearly two years now and all members should be appalled by this situation. Every day, I am contacted by party members expressing concern about this lack of open consultation.
While COVID-19 has presented some challenges to hold a physical gathering whilst under lockdown, the excuses given to date are simply not valid. My reading of the Party’s Constitution and standing orders, suggest to me that the legal advice being relied upon isn’t strong and to test this I engaged with one of Australia’s best QC’s to provide another opinion – one that was INDEPENDENT of the Party and at my own private cost.
Ms Wendy Harris QC, immediate past president of the Victorian Bar and one of Australia’s most eminent barristers, has provided me with advice which can be found here for your information. In essence, it says is that the Constitution and standing orders state that party members must be able to attend State Council but, that attendance is not defined as being ‘in person’ and as such, virtual meetings are permissible. The advice also sets out that the Administrative Committee MUST conduct a State Council every year, with only the smallest latitude as to when it is held. There are no constitutional grounds for State Council not to be held. I have also sent this advice to State President Robert Clark for his immediate attention and action.
Given that the Administrative Committee did not hold a State Council in 2020 I believe they have acted unconstitutionally. As a result, I call on the committee, at its meeting tonight, to call a State Council at the next weekend following the required 14 day notice period. Administrative Committee should then suspend itself and stand aside until the election of a new committee at State Council, if not the President must resign as his position is no longer tenable.
I trust you will join with me in this call for our Party’s democracy to be restored.
SENATOR DAVID VAN
Senator for Victoria