THIS federal election may well go down as the one where more than ever, a bevy of candidates end up either sacked, stood aside, publicly shamed or embarrassed for actions, comments and incidents that have very little to do with politics and a lot more to do with their own failings.
It’s hard to remember an election where so many candidates were felled by their own actions and ignorance.
Sadly, Australians deserve better.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, parties scrutinised their would-be candidates and meticulously scoured through their past to ensure there were no chinks in the armour a candidate needs in the modern hurly-burly world of politics.
Politics can be a brutal game, arguably more brutal than it needs to be, but it needs to be squeaky clean as well.
Accordingly, the Australian Electoral Commission’s inability to conduct due diligence upon would-be candidates beyond checking all the boxes have been filled in is frankly, just as embarrassing as it is inadequate.
The integrity of our electoral system is being compromised by candidates who are either clearly ineligible, or potentially ineligible to stand at this election.
The voting system cannot afford to be tainted in any way, shape or form, and anyone who would seek to be part of the system by nominating need to play by the rules, and more importantly, they need to respect the rules.
Here in Bendigo, anti-mosque campaigner and former City of Greater Bendigo councillor Julie Hoskin has been endorsed as the candidate for Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party.
But she should not even be in the contest.
According to nothing less than the Australian Constitution, as an undischarged bankrupt, Ms Hoskin is ineligible to be a member of parliament.
But the AEC can only ensure any and every candidate for the election has completed the necessary paperwork, and has no power to legally exclude a candidate who has duly completed the forms.
That the candidates from the three major parties contesting the seat of Bendigo have preferenced each other ahead of the four remaining candidates effectively shuts the door on any other candidate winning Bendigo.
But none of the trio would want to win the right to represent the people of this electorate on the back of preferences from a candidate who should not even be in the contest, and if this were to happen there would likely be a legal challenge.
The correct and honourable thing to do in Ms Hoskin’s case would be to stand aside.
Regardless of her latest and ongoing appeal, the stark reality is that at the time she completed the relevant form, and still today, she was and is, an undischarged bankrupt.
There are very few instances in life where we get to have our cake and eat it too, and politics is rarely one of them.