10 November 2023

Resignation, expulsion or stay put? What the investigation into Johnathan Davis could mean for the Assembly

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
2020-10-26 ACT Greens Legislative Assembly Photo: Michelle Kroll

ACT Greens MLA Johnathan Davis was elected to the seat of Brindabella at the 2020 election. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

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.

READ ALSO Unredacted staff survey results reveal ‘absolute horror story’ at ACT Health, Liberals say

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.

READ ALSO ‘That’s enormous’: Barr defends 120 sqm limit for dual occupancies

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.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

I still don’t really understand what the issue of concern is here. As far as we’re told, the activities identified involved consenting people over the age of consent. So does this mean gay people can’t rely on age of consent laws? Why only gay people? What was the value of bringing the ages of consent into line if we can’t use and rely on them?

Is this the first MLA to have been stood down? Plenty have resigned from their electoral party to sit as independents due to policy disagreements, and plenty have resigned from the Assembly for a better job or due to health reasons. But in 10 Assemblies over 35 years, was it a Green who was the first to be stood down?

5 minutes of googling reveals that Laura Nuttall works in Jonathan Davis’ office, suggesting she is still very much a member of the Greens and interested in politics. Given the preference distributions she would be highly likely to replace Davis should he leave the Assembly prior to the next election.

That’s why we have rubbish politicians, a staffer, devoid of life experience

What preference distributions? No-one knows where Johnathan Davis’s preferences went. Mr Davis had a profile and was elected on his hard work and abilities. Laura Nuttall was an unknown as far as I could see and Mr Davis’s preferences could have gone anywhere.

This post needs fact-checking

Of the 9298 votes that elected Davis, only 3019 were his 1st preferences so we have a lot of information where the other 6279 came from, even without delving into the full data available from Elections ACT (which is available so people who access it can run the calculations without waiting for the official recount). From the exclusion of Nuttall and Ellerman we can see that about 2/3 of Greens votes stay in the Greens column, so it’s highly likely that 50%+ of Davis’ votes will remain with other candidates from the Greens, and Nuttall had a significant lead over Ellerman.

Gemma Black you can fact check for yourself on ElectionsACT website which includes spreadsheets which give the preference spread in each electorate.

I am sure you are right Garfield but who knows with Hare-Clark. Look who Murrumbidgee voters got when Giulia Jones stepped down. The very uninspiring Ed Cocks! No-one expected that and I don’t think he was mentioned once in the media in the leadup to the countback. 

Tom McLuckie6:11 pm 12 Nov 23

Yep, same old JD. Hardwork campaigning on dating platforms engaging young voters during debates in the Assembly too no doubt. All paid for on government provided internet and phone service. Democracy by the minority – got to love it.

Even when the story is about a left wing member of parliament being forced to resign gor potential serious misconduct, Jack D still finds a jibe about the Liberals.

Too funny.

Apologies Jack D I meant the fact-check message to be on Garfield’s post. Mea culpa 🫣

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.