§ 127. “Whenever a Vacancy Happens.”

Casual vacancies may happen, during the currency of each House of Representatives, by the death or resignation of a member, by the expulsion of a member for some offence not provided for by the Constitution, or by a member becoming subject to any of the disabilities mentioned in sections 44 and 45. When such vacancies arise the Speaker is authorized to issue writs for the election of new members. Such writs may be issued during a recess without the immediate authority of the House, in order that a representative may be chosen without loss of time by the division which is deprived of its member. (May, 10th ed. p. 599.)

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Qualifications of members.

34. Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of a member128 of the House of Representatives shall be as follows:—

  • (i.) He129 must be of the full age of twenty-one years130, and must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives, or a person qualified to become such elector, and must have been for three years at the least a resident131 within the limits of the Commonwealth as existing at the time when he is chosen:
  • (ii.) He must be a subject of the Queen132, either natural-born or for at least five years naturalized under a law of the United Kingdom, or of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.
UNITED STATES.—No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.—Const., Art. I., sec. 2, sub-sec. 2. CANADA.—Until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides, all laws in force in the several Provinces at the Union relative to…the qualifications and disqualifications of persons to be elected or to sit or vote as members of the House of Assembly in the several Provinces.…shall respectively apply to elections of members to serve in the House of Commons for the same several Provinces.—B.N.A. Act, 1867, sec. 41. SWITZERLAND.—Every lay Swiss citizen who has the right to vote is eligible for membership in the National Council.—Const., Art. 75.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—In the clause as introduced at the Sydney Convention of 1891, the qualification was permanently fixed, the words “until the Parliament otherwise provides” being absent. The qualification was substantially the same, except that no period of residence or naturalization was required. In Committee, on Mr. Deakin's motion, a requirement of three years' residence within the Commonwealth was added; and on Mr. Cuthbert's motion, the same period of naturalization was prescribed. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1891], pp. 639–40.)

At the Adelaide session, 1897, the clause was introduced and passed in substantially its present form. In Committee, Mr. Walker proposed to substitute “twenty-five years” for “twenty-one years,” but this was negatived. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 733.) At the Sydney session, Mr. Lewis raised the question whether under this clause women would be eligible as members of the Parliament. A suggestion of the Legislature of Tasmania, requiring a member to be for three years a resident of the State for which he is chosen, was negatived. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 457–8.) At the Melbourne session, drafting amendments were made before the first report and after the fourth report.