Billy Gordon’s sudden resignation challenges Queensland minority government

April 9, 2015
Billy Gordon refused to resign from parliament.

Within two months of the cliff-hanger election that resulted in the ALP forming a minority government, what seems like a re-run of the attempts to unseat the Julia Gillard government in Canberra is playing out in Queensland.

Despite pressure from the Labor and Liberal parties to resign his seat, in a statement issued on April 8, the former ALP, now independent, MP for Cook, Billy Gordon confirmed that he will not resign from parliament but will continue to represent his constituents.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and opposition leader Lawrence Springborg both called for his resignation from parliament for not disclosing before the election that he had defaulted in maintenance and tax payments and had juvenile criminal convictions. Both parties seemed keen to force a byelection. Palaszczuk’s threat to expel Gordon from the ALP was short circuited when he resigned from the party.

Gordon made a statement in parliament admitting his juvenile record and informing members that his maintenance and tax affairs were now in order. But he strenuously denied accusations of domestic violence (dating from 2005 to 2008) against a former partner. He has stated that he is prepared to cooperate with any police investigation into the domestic violence allegations

Media and social media postings confirm that the allegations by Gordon’s former partner were investigated by three LNP figures. Complaints of unpaid child support and alleged physical abuse were forwarded to the Palaszczuk government.

The motives and credibility of this trio — David Kempton, who had been defeated by Gordon in Cook; Warren Entsch, federal MP who figured in the “Slipper Affair”; and Gavin King, the defeated member for Cairns who achieved notoriety when ALP advertising alleged he had said that drunk women were to blame if they were raped — are questionable to say the least.

Gordon is only the second Aboriginal person to be elected to Queensland parliament. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, particularly those who live in rural and remote areas, overwhelmingly support him.

His electoral support in these areas is between 60% and 80%. There have been many public expressions of support for Gordon from local people in the last week. He has also received public support from Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne.

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