27 August, 2010
NSWALC Councillor Disqualified: New Election to be held
The New South Wales Court of Appeal has held that a fresh election is necessary to fill the position of Councillor for the North Coast Region on the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council.
A majority judgment handed down yesterday directs a new election be held to fill a vacancy which follows the disqualification of Councillor Patricia Laurie.
The Court has held that Councillor Laurie is, and has been, disqualified from holding office since her election on May 22, 2007.
This matter has been the subject of ongoing legal dispute since NSWALC advised Ms Laurie in mid 2008 that she was disqualified from being the Councillor for the North Coast Region under the governance provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NSW) as a result of a conviction in March 2003 for driving whilst disqualified.
This disqualification rendered her ineligible to stand for election in May 2007.
NSWALC has advised Ms Laurie that her role as Councillor has now ceased and will begin preparatory work ahead of a fresh election.
Parties to these proceedings have 28 days in which to seek leave to appeal to the High Court against the judgment.
NSWALC will seek to discuss the process for the new election with the NSW Electoral Commissioner, and others, as soon as possible and advise the land rights network accordingly.
During her term, Ms Laurie has always been an outstanding Councillor, representing her constituents passionately in the North Coast Region. Ms Laurie has tackled the harder issues as part of the team of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council at a local, national and international level.
At this point we will await advice on the process for a new election.
Chris Graham, NSWALC
0407 555 328