Nats candidate eligibility won't be known until after vote
THE eligibility of the Nationals' candidate for Richmond will not be known until after the election, it has been revealed.
Matthew Fraser's eligibility has been questioned by Labor MP Justine Elliot, who said she believed he was in breach of the Australian constitution by incorrectly filling out his nomination form.
Despite the concerns, a ruling can't be made by the Australian Electoral Commission.
A spokesperson from the commission said it was not responsible for determining a candidate's eligibility.
"The AEC's role is limited to collecting and publishing the checklists rather that examining the validity of answers or information provided on checklists," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson referred to a document which stated: "Any disqualification of a candidate due to the operation of Section 44 of the Constitution can only be determined by the High Court after an election."
The issue has come about after questions were raised about Mr Fraser's qualification checklist, filled out prior to his nomination.
The document - which was obtained by The Northern Star's sister paper, the Tweed Daily News - showed that Mr Fraser ticked 'no' to question 15 on the form, which relates to Section 44 of the Constitution.
The question asks whether or not the candidate has a direct or indirect financial interest in any contract or agreement with the Commonwealth public service.
Mrs Elliot said she believed the Nationals candidate did have a financial interest through his wife's ownership of a franchised Hungry Jack's in Tweed Heads South.
Through that business, youth workers are employed through the Federal Government's Youth Job Path Program.
"This would appear to be a serious breach of Australia's Constitution and it calls into question Matthew Fraser's eligibility as a candidate for Richmond in this election," Mrs Elliot said.
But Mr Fraser has hit back, labelling the comments as a "smear campaign".
"It is completely, 100 per cent clear that I am eligible to be the Member for Richmond," Mr Fraser said.
"This is another disgusting smear campaign from the Labor party who can't face up to questioning about their policies and the direction that they will take this country in if they are elected to government."
"My wife is the franchisee at Hungry Jack's and I tell you what, she has worked damn hard at making that business a success and giving local people a start in employment.
"I am not a director of that company, nor do I have any involvement with it.
"The law is clear, the employment of one's spouse is not an issue when it comes to section 44 of the Australian Constitution."
NSW Nationals state director Ross Cadell said Mr Fraser had been through a "stringent" vetting process.
According to a document supplied by Mrs Elliot's office, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website shows Mr Fraser's company, Insigma Pty Ltd, has a 50 per cent share in the Hungry Jack's on Minjungbal Drive.
Mrs Elliot questioned Mrs Fraser's decision to omit that he had a 50 per cent share in his wife's business.
"For years, Matthew Fraser has told everyone that he owns the Hungry Jack's at South Tweed and now when it is revealed that his eligibility as a candidate is questioned, he blatantly lies saying he has no involvement in the business," Mrs Elliot said.