How To Remove a Prime Minister From Office


Hello and welcome back to another
episode Auspol Explained. I’m your host David and I’m here to explain all the
questions you have about Australian politics that you were too lazy to
Google. Today’s episode is all about how to remove a Prime Minister from office.
Have you ever wondered what does it take to get rid of a Prime Minister? I mean,
probably. Most people at some point have quite likely wondered that question. No
matter who is Prime Minister or what party they’re from that they do not have
100 percent approval rate from the public so there is someone out there who
probably thinks that whoever the Prime Minister is they are the worst one in
all of history. Personally I really don’t like Edmund Barton, the first Prime
Minister. Yeah that’s right! I don’t like him! He knows what he did. *whispers* it’s the White
Australia Policy. possibly you’re just curious because you’ve heard that the US
has this thing called impeachment and you’re curious “does Australia have that?”
Simply put there are many ways to remove a Prime Minister from office. Some are
specific to a Prime Minister and others just apply to any member of Parliament.
The pretty obvious one is an election and so, just like my suitcase one week
after I’ve returned from holiday, I’m not going to bother unpacking that. So let’s
explore all the different scenarios and go on a magical educational journey. ..woooo… …ahhhh… learning is magic! First off they can’t
just be expelled from Parliament. In 1920 Hugh Mahon, a member of the House of
Representatives, was expelled from Parliament for “seditious and disloyal
utterances.” He called for an Australian Republic. The then Prime Minister, Billy
Hughes, moved to him to be expelled from Parliament. This is unique in all of
Australian history. Dection 49 of the Constitution says that the Parliament
can declare the powers privileges and immunities of its houses – which sounds
like a great rule right? Imagine having it in your work contract that you can
just give your self whatever benefit you like. Wow. I
sure hope no one abuses that power. The writers of the Australian Constitution
took inspiration from the British House of Commons which has the power to
dismiss members. This meant that the Australian Parliament could dismiss
members from office up until 1987 when the Parliamentary Privileges Act removed
this power. Even though it had only been used once the Parliament thought that
“hey, maybe the ability to remove people – say, political opponents, from office so
long as you had a majority was not a great power to have.” Section 7 and 24 of
the Constitution say that politicians should be directly chosen by the people
which implies that the Parliament shouldn’t be allowed to just kick people
out. It took 86 years for someone to look at that and think “hmmm maybe we should
be a bit stricter about that one.” But also it comes as no surprise to me
because the Constitution is literally a form of Terms and Conditions and who has
ever read the terms and conditions? I bet you’ve never read the terms and
conditions of anything let alone the Constitution. I know I haven’t… yet. Look,
I’m halfway through the Constitution. It’s not exactly a page-turner.
It’s got no sense of dramatic tension or character development and it’s also
very lore heavy. That’s “lore” as in L O R E not L A W, and yes
that was the best pun I could think of. You’re welcome.
This does hypothetically mean in the future the Parliament could legislate to
amend the Parliamentary Privileges Act to reintroduce this power though then
I’m pretty sure the High Court would rule against that so probably not… So for
now it doesn’t exist. You can’t just get angry at someone and be like “you are
forced out of the position!” even if this power did still exist it would be a
strange situation to be used against the sitting Prime Minister. It’s far more likely
to be used against an ordinary member of parliament as it would require a
majority to put into action. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
It could have happened several times throughout history. Nowadays if a member
of a party does something disgraceful there is usually two options: either the
party removes that person from their party and they sit as an independent or
the party no longer gives them preselection in the next election and at
the end of the term is the end of their career. Of course if someone is facing a
scandal of very large proportions there’s always just the option of
resigning. Speaking of which: few Prime Ministers
retire from politics willingly. Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving
Prime Minister, decided after a lengthy political career to just retire. Just be
done with it. Only two other Prime Ministers, Andrew Fisher and Edmund
Barton, have retired from politics while Prime Minister. The rest were removed
from the position in different ways. Some have resigned from the position of Prime Minister but then remained in office for reasons that I will get to later. Another
thing that happens very rarely is death. Well, not like, in general but I mean for
sitting Prime Ministers. The most famous example of a prime minister dying is
Harold Holt. He went swinging on Cheviot Beach in
1967 and then was never seen again, presumably drowning in a rip and being
taken out to sea. OR if you’re a conspiracy theorist: he didn’t die but he was
actually taken by the Chinese in a submarine to live a life in China after
40 years of being a Chinese spy. This whole conspiracy theory was spawned by a
basically a novel length book called “The Prime Minister Was A Spy” by Anthony Grey.
An imaginative title I know. It’s bad. I’ve read it. It’s bad. It’s bad. It’s
nonsense. I had to have it retrieved by the State Library from a storage stack
and no one had gotten it out in like over 10 years. It’s a bad book from like…. 80s? 70s? The whole book is based off what a retired Navy Officer told Grey saying
that a bunch of just Chinese businessman had
told him the truth of this mammoth spy operation, you know, casually over several
meetings because…I dunno… the Chinese government figured “oh! Oh yeah people are
gonna learn about it eventually so let’s just get ahead of the story and just
tell people what our international spies were up to… just casually” You know how
governments – especially China – love to talk about their spy operations openly
and without prompting? You know how governments do it all the time because
transparency when it comes to spy operations is super super good? Yeah. I
also read a conspiracy theory that he was assassinated because he was gonna
pull troops out of the Vietnam War. Then I read another conspiracy theory that he
was assassinated because he was going to send more troops into the Vietnam War. Huh!
Hmm! hmm hmm… That doesn’t seem… right. Only two other prime ministers have died in
office: Joseph Lyons and John Curtin. Lyons died
of a heart attack in 1939. He was the first Prime Minister to die in office. He
was actually ready to retire but unfortunately died before he could. John
Curtin also had a heart attack in November 1944 and his health declined
dying in July of 1945. He was just a few weeks away from living to see the end of
World War Two. And that’s it. The oldest person to become Prime Minister was John
McEwen at age 67 so Prime Ministers tend not to get so old that they unexpectedly
die. They also don’t get assassinated. Unlike in the U.S. Australia actually
has very little political violence. No Prime Minister has had an assassination.
This is probably because assassination is very wrong and bad and 10 out of 10
lawyers say “don’t do that” and also “who are you?” and “how did you get into my
office? and why are you asking very suspicious questions about political
assassinations?” For comparison I looked at the list of assassinations of
Presidents in the USA and 11 out of the past 14 have had
assassination attempts, and then of course there’s the one successful
assassination of JFK in 1963. So the past 14 Presidents goes back to 1929 when
Herbert Hoover was elected. From that point onwards nearly every single
President has had an assassination attempt if not several. The exceptions
being Eisenhower and Johnson. As far as I’m aware no one tried to kill them so…
hopefully the statistic I said was right. If not… there’s been even more political
assassinations than I had previously expected… Hey America are you… are you okay? That doesn’t mean that we have had zero political violence in Australia. John Newman a member of the New South Wales
Legislative Assembly was unfortunately a victim of a political assassination in
1994 when he was shot to death. This is somewhat regarded as Australia’s first
proper political assassination, though other politicians have been murdered in
the past. So you can see that it is quite rare. Someone attempted to assassinate
Queen Elizabeth in 1970 during her Australian tour by rolling a large log
in the path of a train that she was on aiming to derail the train to harm those
inside of it. The perpetrator is still unknown. Ah yes, the classic assassination
weapon: a misplaced log. Arthur Calwell, leader of the Australian Labor Party
from 1962 to 1967, survived an assassination attempt in 1966. A man shot him with a
rifles through a car window. The bullet was deflected by the car window and so Calwell only received minor injuries to his chin. His assailant later apologized
profusely to Calwell and then Calwell sent him a letter forgiving him. Aww sweet! I probably wouldn’t do that if someone tried to kill me. I am pretty forgiving
but also like personally if you do try and kill me… I will consider our
friendship just over. You know? You’re no longer invited to any of my parties
or future events and assassination is an instant unfriend on Facebook in my book
so… Not cool, dude. Not cool. So as you can see
political violence thankfully is quite rare in Australia. Okay so here’s some examples that have actually removed a Prime Minister from
office not just what could hypothetically do it. The party just
tells them to leave. Prime Minister’s are leaders of parties and so therefore they
require party approval to gain and then remain in that position. This means that
a leadership spill can remove them from the position. We’ve seen this several
times in the past dozen years and that’s not the only time it has happened in
history. Kevin Rudd of Labor was replaced by Julia Gillard in 2010 and
then Gillard then replaced (by) Rudd in 2013. Tony Abbott of the Liberal Party was
replaced by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 and then Turnbull was replaced by Scott
Morrison in 2018. This all happened partway through
someone’s term so as a result of this we have not seen a Prime Minister serve
a full term from one election to the next… since 2007… as of this video. So
comment down below if you’re watching this in the future and we finally had a
Prime Minister serve a full term I wonder when it’ll happen! Here’s the
thing: a leadership spill works differently from party to party. There’s
no law that actually dictates exactly what the rule should be and so party
rules can just be changed. In 2013 Labor decided after two leadership spills it
would increase the threshold for a successful challenge to be from 50% of
its members to 60% if it’s an opposition or 75% if in government. So it takes
three-quarters of the Labor party room to remove a Labor Prime Minister. The
Liberal Party on the other hand took until 2018 with Morrison becoming Prime Minister to change their party rules. It now requires two-thirds of a party room
majority for a successful leadership challenge. Scott Morrison cleverly
put this into effect after he had successfully taken advantage of it not
being so strict. Lucky right? Wow! What convenient timing.
If only Turnbull had paid closer attention to the previous ten years of
Australian politics and also the very method in which he had become Prime Minister himself. So thanks the change of these party rules we’ll hopefully see
the end of our bi-annual tradition of a leadership spill replacing the Prime
Minister. Fingers crossed. Only time will tell though. Unfortunately
as this means we’ll be replacing our Prime Minister less often it does mean
you do need to find a different way to remind you to change the battery in your
smoke alarm. Maybe you could set a phone reminder. Please test your smoke alarm.
It’s important and save lives. Of course it’s important to know that this method
only removes them from the position of Prime Minister. It doesn’t remove them
from the Parliament – unless you’re Malcolm Turnbull and you decide “well that sucked!
Time to quit and go on a holiday to New York because I want to.” If you’re curious
as to what removes them from Parliament entirely well there’s the next option:
they are found ineligible by the Constitution. Section 44 outlines the
various ways a politician is made ineligible to sit in Parliament. It’s
actually really important. There are actually five sub ections and
oh boy! If you thought I was really into sections to the Constitution then get
ready for: subsections! Oh baby let’s get… specific. Section 44 says that you can’t
be in Parliament if you are under the acknowledgment, allegiance, obedience or
adhere to a foreign power, or are a subject, citizen, or entitled to the
rights or privileges of a citizen of a foreign power. Don’t worry I will explain
all of that. Or you are guilty of treason or being convicted of any offence
punishable of one year or longer, bankruptcy, hold any office of profit
under the crown, or if you have a pecuniary interest in any agreement with the
public service of the Commonwealth. Okay so let’s start with section 44(i).
Allegiance obedience privileges of foreign power etc etc. The best known
example of this is dual citizenship. We had a dual citizenship crisis that
disqualified a bunch of politicians back in 2017 and 2018. That was just a wild
time and honestly it should have a video of its own because so many people were
just suddenly not allowed to be in Parliament anymore.
Malcolm Turnbull even briefly lost his majority in the House of Representatives.
Turns out a lot of people don’t check if they have dual citizenship and to be
fair the rules regarding citizenship vary from country to country. Barnaby
Joyce, despite being born in Australia, unknowingly had dual New Zealand
citizenship by descent from his father. Yeah weird. Some countries require you to
be born in that country to have citizenship automatically, some give it
to you if your parents are from that country, and some places you can apply
for it depending on where your grandparents were born. Here’s the thing:
a politician is perfectly fine to be elected if they were born in another
country so long as they don’t have citizenship of that country, so many
people have renounced it before going into office. Quite a few Prime Minister’s
weren’t born in Australia. Six of them were born in Great Britain. Recent
examples include Tony Abbott, who was born in London, and Julia Gillard, who was
born in Wales. There are two exceptions to this. There is John Gorton who was…
probably born in New Zealand And Chris Watson who was born in Chile and then
raised in New Zealand. Politicians simply just needs to renounce their dual
citizenship before nomination. The thing is the AEC – which you need to register
with to become a politician – doesn’t actually check your eligibility. It’s up
to the candidate to say that they are eligible and if they’re discovered to
not be eligible they are then taken to the High Court.
Prime Minister’s haven’t actually been removed by this section but that could
just because people haven’t checked. Who’s to say all those British
Prime Minister’s actually renounced their dual citizenship? We’re unsure.
Particularly Chris Watson we’re… not sure We just didn’t check if he was eligible
or not and John Gorton who was… maybe born in New Zealand or Melbourne. It’s
unclear. There’s conflicting information about whether or not he was actually
born in New Zealand. His dad told him that he was but he has some paperwork
that says he might have been born in Melbourne but then he also put down on
some paperwork that he was from New Zealand. It’s… who knows? But no one took
into a high court so potentially those Prime Ministers and maybe even more
served as Prime Minister unknowingly having dual citizenship. So if a Prime
Minister did discover that they had to a citizenship they would just be ejected
from Parliament. During the dual citizenship crisis Tony Abbott actually
provided evidence that he’d long since renounce his British citizenship to
prove to his critics that they couldn’t remove him. Though his party had already
removed him from the position of Prime Minister years prior. Here’s the thing:
the conditions of disqualification cannot be retroactively fixed mid term.
So if a politician had dual citizenship, got elected, realized they had dual
citizenship then renounced it, they can still be removed from office because
they were ineligible at the time of nomination. Of course whatever makes a
politician ineligible can then be resolved and they can just come back
next election. Barnaby Joyce, the former Deputy Prime Minister, was found to be
ineligible due to dual citizenship and so he was removed from office, which then
left his seat empty ,so there was a by-election, which then he then just won
back mid term. So being forced out of
Parliament by the High Court might actually just not stop you from
returning. So it is actually possible that a Prime Minister can be removed for
a previously unknown dual citizenship. All it will take is a little
negligence and the right circumstances. Section 44 subsection 2: they commit a
crime or treason. People are disqualified from holding office if they are
convicted of treason or a crime that has a jail sentence longer than a year. This
means that politicians may have criminal records but so long as the jail term
wasn’t a year or longer that’s fine. William Henry Groom was a member of the
first Parliament of Australia and also a convict who had been transported to
Australia for being convicted of stealing. He unfortunately died just a
few months into his term in August of 1901. John Curtin was sentenced to three
months in jail for failing to comply with a compulsory medical examination
for conscription in 1914. He was thankfully then released after three and
a half days in jail thanks to some friends who intervened with the help of
a senator. He would then go on to become Prime Minister in 1941.
So he was the first Prime Minister who was convicted of a crime though before he
was Prime Minister. Look: Prime Minister’s haven’t actually been removed from
office due to crimes ever in the history of Australia …yet. There’s also the option
of treason. Don’t worry! I’ve googled how to commit treason so you won’t need to
and it’s probably put me on some kind of a list but oh well. I’m sure I can expect
that ASIO or the AFP will come knocking at my door shortly after I finished
uploading this video. And without further ado ways to commit treason include:
assisting in any way with an organization engaged in armed
hostilities with the Defence Force or aiding an enemy at war with the
Commonwealth ,or preparing an act of war against the Commonwealth, or causing
death or harm to, or imprisoning or restraining, the Governor-General, Prime
Minister, Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, or the consort of the
sovereign. So just imagine right Nicolas Cage but he’s Australian and also the
Prime Minister somehow and he decides that he’s going
to kidnap the Queen. That would make him ineligible to run for Parliament. It’d also
make an interesting plot for National Treasure 3. Call me Disney. Let’s get it
done. See I’m not… sure how general the High Court would get with the wording of
that definition so like… With relation to the word “harm” could the
Prime Minister just like…. Punch… Prince Charles once? Like, is that… does
that still count? If you’ve happen to be a If you happen to be a lawyer comment down below what you think is the boundary a person would need to cross before it becomes treason. It’s a
fun speculative game I like to call “is this treason?
let’s publicly express our opinions!” Don’t commit it though. But don’t do
treason. Just don’t. Look, like I said, this video is about the ways that Prime
Minister’s CAN be removed – doesn’t mean that they ever will be by these methods.
Obviously it’s far more likely that like just an ordinary MP will be able to
break these rules compared to the Prime Minister. For starters: the Prime Minister
can’t kidnap themselves. The Prime Minister is far more likely to commit a
different kind of crime like potentially electoral fraud. Pauline Hanson almost went
to jail for three years for electoral fraud but the charges were removed on
appeal and she only spent 11 weeks in jail. This is different from impeachment
which is a thing found in many world governments but you’re probably most
familiar with the term because of the US specifically how Trump was impeached in
the House of Representatives and then acquitted in the Senate. Impeachment in
the US is a constitutional method of removing officers of the US federal
government. Most famously this refers to the President but historically is
actually a process that is mostly used to get rid of judges. Impeachment
requires a majority in the House of Representatives and then a two-thirds
majority in the Senate. We don’t have impeachment in Australia for Prime
Ministers and we also don’t have the same legal protections that the President is
afforded in the US for some reason. So if the Prime Minister did something
scandalous enough to be on trial for a crime they would most likely just resign
before it got really bad because it would damage the party if they stayed on. You
know, the logical thing to do. Section 44 subsection 3: bankruptcy. Bankruptcy for
some reason just makes you ineligible. Senator Rodney Culleton, who was elected
as a One Nation candidate before becoming an independent shortly
afterwards, was found to be bankrupt. It wasn’t why he was removed from
Parliament though. It was because of his larceny conviction! If only he had traveled
forward in time and seen the previous few minutes of this video or read the
Constitution. I literally just went over this Rodney. Just did it! Please don’t do
crimes. Please! And also don’t kidnap the Queen or Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of course is subject to this rule as well though the Prime Minister
does get paid over half a million dollars per year and has a lot of
benefits to cover costs. The salary also generally goes up every financial year
or so, so unless they’re really bad with money
and somehow get massively in debt it’s unlikely that a PM will be kicked out
for going bankrupt. So I guess if you really want to get rid of a Prime Minister you really need to sweet-talk them into investing into some very dodgy
business practices like an app or something that you know cost lots of
money and you’re willing to tank for political vengeance. Though this isn’t
really an instructional guide this is just more of like the potential ways in
which it could happen. Hey! It is possible. Section 44 subsection 4: holding
an office of profit under the crown. Look, I said I know some of these aren’t gonna
apply to a Prime Minister except in rare circumstances but this is, like, the least
relevant section of all time and so I’m not going to spend much time
on it. Basically it means you can’t get elected if you hold a specific list of
jobs like working for a parliamentary secretary, or are the Governor-General, or a
federal Magistrate. You’d have to resign from that position first to then run for
office. I’m only mentioning as part of Section 44. There’s no way a Prime
Minister would take on the additional role during Parliament. It doesn’t make
sense – especially because the moment that they gain that position they immediately
get removed from office. This is really only relevant to people who want to run
for office for the first time so take this more as an instructional guide for
you if you ever want to run for politics. Beware if you’re running for
Parliament they are like SO many rules. Terms and conditions man. What do they
say? Who knows. Look we’ve all probably sold
our soul at this point just by clicking “yes.” Who knows what website has it? Is it
Neopets? Maybe Neopets has it. Maybe that’s why my Neopets can never die.
They’re legally entitled to own my life essence and it’s keeping them alive. Fun
fact: Apple product terms and conditions forbid people from using their devices
to design, manufacture, or produce nuclear or biological weapons. So take that
terrorists! Don’t bomb a building with a bomb you built with your MacBook or you
can be sued. This has been fun terms and conditions facts with David. I
guess. Section 44(v): Pecuniary interests. A person cannot be in
Parliament if they have any direct or indirect pecuniary interests or
agreement with the public service. “Pecuniary” by the way is relating to money. I
know – I learned a new word thanks to this video that I will never use again and
likely you will never use either, but that’s what it says. This is to avoid
conflicts of interest. It also very rarely gets exercised. Wow what a
surprise. I’m sorry to disappoint you. But trust me I
will tell you that the more definite ways of Prime Minister gets removed very
soon. It was first examined by the High Court in 1975 with the example of
National Country Party Senator James Webster. It was only examined by a
single judge. Webster was a shareholder and managing director of a company that
supplied timber and hardware through a public tender to the Postmaster
General’s department and the Department of Housing and Construction. The High
Court ruled that this wasn’t enough. They found that: “in the
agreement of the person said to be disqualified must be pecuniary in a
sense that through the possibility the financial gain by the existence or the
performance of the agreement that person could conceivably be influenced by the
Crown in relation to Parliamentary affairs…” Soo… didn’t seem like enough of
a conflicting interest to that one judge. So it seems like the ability to breach
this is narrow but it has actually happened. Family first Senator Bob Day actually was found to be ineligible thanks to
this section He was found ineligible when the High
Court revisited this subsection in 2017. Day had a rental agreement for his
electoral office and it was paid for by the Commonwealth but the property was
owned by an entity that made rental payments into Day’s bank account so
instead of having his rent subsidized by the government he was making a profit on
it. So hey it’s rare but this does mean that this can apply to a Prime Minister!
Who knows what a Prime Minister could do that would serve their own interest in a
monetary fashion. All you need for this to apply is for a Prime Minister to
think that they’re very sneaky, to be corrupt, and to be stupid enough to get
caught. Thankfully every single Prime Minister in Australian history has been
morally pure and decent to their very core. Except Edmund Barton… a massive
racist… and also several subsequent Prime Ministers who were also massive racists. Okay look I know a lot of these don’t seem to apply to Prime Minister usually
because PMs would think ahead or it’s very specific but let’s get to something
that is very specifically about a Prime Minister: a motion of no-confidence. A
motion of no-confidence can not only just remove a Prime Minister but it can
also lead to a change of government entirely as it can result in an election.
Basically a motion of no-confidence requires a majority in the House of
Representatives to say that, well, they’ve lost confidence.
Conventionally then this leads to resignation and an election. Remember though
convention is the government’s way of saying “well we tend to do it like this
way, so technically it’s not a rule… but we’re probably gonna do it… but it’s not
a rule.” Look this is very difficult to happen because normally the government
requires a majority in the House of Representatives to, you know be the
ruling government, so except in rare instances like a hung parliament it’s
kind of impossible without a member of the government being so mad at their own
party as to defect. Here’s the thing: no successful motion of no-confidence has
actually happened in Australian history. Sorry to disappoint. But! There have
actually been several chances that this could have happened even recently. Alfred
Deakin resigned in 1904 after an amendment for a bill was defeated. It’s important
to note that Deakin had only a little over a third of the seats in the House
of Representatives. It was possible at any time for bills to be defeated. That’s
just how it was in the early years of Australian Parliament. No party had a
majority until Labor in 1910 So Deakin was replaced by Chris Watson who…
resigned four months after an amendment was defeated on a bill. He was replaced
by George Reid which – you guessed it – resigned in 1905 because an amendment
was defeated. He was replaced by Alfred Deakin who would serve his second time
as Prime Minister until 1908 when you’ll never guess what happened.
Spoilers: he resigned following a defeat of an amendment. He was replaced by
Andrew Fisher who… resigned and was replaced by Alfred Deakin again. Third
time lucky amiright? Wrong! Less than a year later you’ll
never guess who was back as Prime Minister. Did you guess Andrew Fisher?
Gold star to you. Correct. Wow. And you thought leadership spells were
frustrating. We have changed Prime Minister’s nine
times in the first 13 years of Australia and there were only six different people
in that position. These resignations were the choice of the Prime Minister not the
Parliament. Parliament could have moved for a motion of no-confidence but didn’t.
Recently Scott Morrison lost control of the house in 2019 when the Medevac bill
passed against his wishes. The government had lost its one seat majority at the
resignation of Malcolm Turnbull after the Liberal Party had forced him out
from the position of Prime Minister. Independent Karen Phelps then won the
by-election in Wentworth. She provided the government with confidence and
supply meaning that the government could continue to function with a de facto
majority except when it came to Medevac. Phelps, a former president of the
Australian Medical Association, put forward a bill that allowed doctors to
authorize the evacuation of refugees from indefinite detention on Manus
Island and Naru to receive medical care in Australia. The Liberal Party was
opposed to the bill and had spent years fighting court orders to allow medical
evacuations. Some refugees had even been waiting for medical care that had been
refused to them for up to five years. The United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees has long criticized Australia’s long outstanding poor health care
towards refugees in indefinite detention. Phelps argued that we needed to overcome
a dangerous and bureaucratic system of transfers that was incredibly slow and
not just only needlessly cruel but also has killed people. For example: Hamid Kehazaei, I hope I’m pronouncing that right, had died on Manus because of a
minor infection in his leg that wasn’t given medical care. His transfer happened
several days after doctors had recommended it and as a result he had a
heart attack leading to brain death in 2014.
Faysal Ishak Ahmed also had tried repeatedly to get medical care but
unfortunately died of a seizure in 2017. the Liberal Party fought hard against
this bill saying that if we give medical care to sick
refugees then more refugees will come even though the bill specifically only
covered refugees that were already in detention so that didn’t really make
sense as an excuse. With the support of Labor and the crossbench
Phelps managed to get the bill passed in historic victory against the government.
The last time the government was defeated on a significant piece of
legislation was in 1941. Because of this refugees were temporarily allowed to be
transferred to Australia to receive proper medical care. Hypothetically this
defeat in the House meant that the government was actually open to a motion
of no-confidence. Hypothetically the government could no longer block any
bill because anyone from any party could introduce one and with enough support
could get it through Parliament so naturally a motion of no-confidence was
possible but it was not put forward and so instead of resigning like previous
Prime Ministers had, Morrison just ignored this and carried on to an
election in May. The Liberals then regained a majority in the House of Reps
and repealed Medevac thus making it harder for innocent refugees to access
proper medical care. The Scott Morrison government currently has 77 seats with a minimum of 76 needed to form a majority so hypothetically if two
members of the Liberal or National Party resign, are found ineligible, died or are
replaced by, or turn into, independents, or a member of another party – then
hypothetically it is possible for Morrison then to return to a minority
and a motion of no-confidence to happen. Hypothetically someone watching this
video could think that I have a really good screen presence and offer me a high
paying job as some kind of TV presenter or an educational TV show.
ABC I’m looking at you. I’d be open to it especially because COVID-19 means I no
longer have a job. Until that time I have a Patreon that you can support me. Link
in the description. This brings us to the final way to get rid of a Prime Minister
and this one is very definitive. There is no recourse for the Prime Minister and
there is no way that they can challenge this. It is completely out of their hands
and that is: dismissal. The Governor-General is responsible for
swearing in a new Prime Minister. Turns out they can also dismiss a Prime
Minister in rare circumstances. Gough Whitlam is the only Prime Minister to
ever be dismissed from office by the Governor-General. In 1975 the Liberal
held Senate refused to pass any bills put forward by the Labor held House of
Representatives until an early election was called. This meant that the government
was incapable of functioning. Nothing could pass and it created a deadlock
which meant they couldn’t pass bills to do with money and if this continued a
lot of things wouldn’t get funded and an economic disaster would just ensue.
Whitlam initially wanted to wait to see if the Opposition would cave in to
pressure but the deadline to get bills passed to avoid funding issues was
looming. Whitlam’s next solution was to call a Senate half election to try and
resolve this deadlock. However, before he could request that John Kerr, the
Governor General at the time, had a different plan. This sparked massive
controversy because he used his reserve powers and fired Whitlam. He then placed
the Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser as Prime Minister instead and then called
an election. Now before you think “oh cool there’s a precedent. It can happen again.”
Consider that this is referred to as the 1975 constitutional crisis. Kerr resigned
from his position early and like left the country. This was a massive
controversy and not something that happened lightly. Kerr’s successor as
Governor-General Paul Hasluck said that this was a mistake to have
exercised the Governor-General’s reserve powers in that manner and he personally
probably wouldn’t have done it or acted on Malcolm Fraser’s advice to fire Whitlam. He also said that “the function of the Governor-General is not to be the
honest broker in political situations.” Frankly this was seen as an overstep and
conventionally Kerr should have listened to Whitlam and discussed a solution
before firing him. I also have a video about the role of the Governor-General
and the powers so check out that after you’ve finished with this. Turns out they
can actually do a lot but basically although the Governor-General has the
power to dismiss members of parliament, and block bills, and even suggest changes
to bills, they’re not seen as a position that holds much sway in political
opinions. They’re there to oversee and facilitate the functioning of government
not to bend it to their will and conventionally only act on the advice of
the Prime Minister. Though remember what I said earlier: convention is not the
same as a rule .It’s highly unlikely that we will see a repeat of the 1975
constitutional crisis. The Governor-General even then only
interfered because the government simply didn’t function at all. So for as long as
the Prime Minister manages to get bills passed – regardless of the content of
those bills – there’s no reason to expect that the Governor-General would
interfere at all. The government usually doesn’t control the Senate anyway and
since then we have not had a party threatened to use the Liberal Party’s
tactics of blocking supply. It’s not impossible for it to happen again but it
could potentially renew an interest in a republic movement where Australia
replaces the Queen and Governor-General with a President. It’s in the interest of
the Governor-General not to repeat the crisis of 1975 so as to keep the
position. So there you have it! Thank you so much for making it all the way to
this video. Hypothetically there are a lot of ways that Prime Minister’s can be
removed from office though in reality as we have seen there are actually not that
many that happen. Usually it really is mostly an election
or recently a leadership spill. Some of these ways that a Prime Minister
can be removed arise from carelessness, some kind of pop up unexpectedly, and
some are purely hypothetical methods that have never been used in Australian
history but hey – one day one of them might happen and then you’ll be like “I
knew it! I knew it could happen! I’ve prepared
myself and now I can explain what’s happening to my friends and family –
vaguely – because I know what “pecuniary” interests means!” You might be able to use
that word yet. Perhaps though this video is more of an instructional video for
you if you have a future political career and you want to know what
pitfalls to avoid. I bet some politicians really wished that they had
double-checked the rules about dual citizenship beforehand to save
themselves a lot of trouble a few years ago. But yes, an election remains the
strongest way to remove a Prime Minister from office and to do that you need to
get out there have conversations with people and connect with others so that
they can see your political point of view and maybe work together to change
the results of the next election. Voting does make a difference so please make
sure that you get involved support a party you like and learn more
about politics – which you can do by subscribing and sharing my videos. Thank
you so much for watching as always there is a Patreon in the description where
you can support this channel, there is a link in the description to a copy of the
script full of citations so you can learn more about the things that I have
referenced here or use them in the assignments. Thank you so much. I will see
you next time (clicks) Goodbye!

5 thoughts on “How To Remove a Prime Minister From Office

  1. I'm here from 2034, the harold holt story is true he is back from china and served a full term xx glad to help

  2. my opinion about treason is that anything that hurts lizzy's feelings counts as harm so for example if i told her that she's a murderer for not distributing her wealth to the thousands who die of starvation on the streets each year, that would be treason :+/

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