Billy Gordon: “Mr Gordon would seem entitled to exercise his right to the rule of law.”The Billy Gordon MP matter reminds us that the rule of law and the court of public opinion don’t always align. Which should prevail in this case?
The law is relatively clear. An MP is generally entitled to remain in Parliament unless convicted of serious criminal charges. Primarily this is to ensure that minor or vexatious charges cannot be used to remove or subvert a political opponent.
At this point, from the available information, the legal threshold for removal does not apply. Which leaves us with the subjective court of public opinion.
Under our Westminster system that operates at every election. Voters cast their ballot based on the policies, perceived ability and character of the candidates. It is reasonable to expect full disclosure of all the above to allow an informed choice.
Even if candidates and their parties fail to do that disclosure, relentless scrutiny by political opponents and the media usually ensures discovery, and with it a right of reply.
So it is perplexing why allegations of domestic violence and related matters never surfaced prior to the election.
Indeed, those with relevant allegations had a duty to the people of Cook and indeed Queensland to make such a public interest disclosure at that time. Not only on then, but also when Mr Gordon previously contested a Federal seat. That allegations are only coming to light after Mr Gordon’s election to parliament requires some serious explaining.
The other lesson from this sordid and sorry tale is how haphazard our response to domestic violence remains. It is something that perpetrators and victims need to address at the earliest opportunity.
To allow it to fester only to surface as a political football seriously distracts from the message that expert assistance must be sought promptly. That lesson also needs to learnt by politicians who should direct notifications to appropriate professional agencies as soon as the matter comes to their attention.
Given the inexplicably belated use and possible abuse of the court of public opinion, Mr Gordon would seem entitled to exercise his right to the rule of law.
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