It’s been alleged ACT Greens MLA Johnathan Davis was sexually involved with “young people”, causing the Brindabella representative to be stood down indefinitely from his duties.
However, he still holds the title ‘MLA’ and has several options to consider regarding his career from this point.
Speaking in general terms, ANU Emeritus Professor John Warhurst said there were three options open to politicians regarding their positions: do nothing, resign from their position, or be expelled from their party.
“If any member were to resign, there would be a recount,” he said.
In this instance, if Mr Davis were to resign, there would have to be a recount of results for the seat of Brindabella from the 2020 election by the ACT Electoral Commission.
However, this process would take time.
“All other candidates [from that election] would have to be asked if they’d still like to be considered for the position,” E/Prof Warhurst said.
While the position could go to the candidate who received the most votes behind Mr Davis, it comes down to where his preferences land.
“It can be a bit unpredictable, what happens in a recount … it depends whether his second preference went to the next Greens candidate or to a Labor candidate,” E/Prof Warhurst said.
Another option is for Mr Davis to make no decision about his position.
However, this opens up a third option, which is out of Mr Davis’ hands: the ACT Greens could make the decision for him and expel him from the party.
If the ACT Greens chose this path, Mr Davis would lose his party backing, but it doesn’t mean he would stop being an MLA.
“If that happens, a person could then stay [in the chamber] as an independent,” E/Prof Warhurst said.
If Mr Davis ends up being expelled from the party but then chooses to keep his position as an independent, he could stay in the job until the next ACT election in October 2024.
If the recount option occurs, there are two candidates from the 2020 election who look to be in contention for a spot in the Assembly, depending on whether they’re still willing to be in politics and where Mr Davis’ preferences lie.
Labor candidate Taimus Werner-Gibbings would be next in line behind Mr Davis based on votes; however, if his preferences were to go to fellow Greens candidates in the seat, then either Laura Nuttall or Sue Ellerman could be in contention.
Ms Nuttall received 1657 votes during the last election, while Ms Ellerman secured 1309. However, it’s unclear which one of them (if either) would still be interested in the job.
Mr Davis has given no clues as to his thinking at this stage, and the ACT Greens also haven’t commented on what options the party is considering.
A police investigation has begun into the allegations, with no charges laid.
Attorney-General and ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury confirmed the allegations against Mr Davis were about “possible sexual interactions with young people” based on two complaints that were made to him earlier in the week.