High Court challenge to Cleary
By Peter Boyle
MELBOURNE — The High Court will hear a challenge to left independent Phil Cleary's victory in the April by-election for former prime minister Bob Hawke's Victorian seat of Wills.
The challenge, by unsuccessful independent candidate Ian Sykes, is based on section 44 of the Constitution, which disqualifies candidates holding an "office of profit under the Crown".
At the time of the by-election, Cleary, a teacher by profession, is said to have been on unpaid leave from the Victorian Education Department.
At a preliminary hearing on July 9, Cleary's legal representatives argued unsuccessfully that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear Sykes' petition.
Sykes also claims that four other candidates, including himself, should have been disqualified under the law.
Outside the court, Cleary said the case is a "waste of money" and an undemocratic attempt to deny the people of Wills the parliamentary representative of their choice.