17 November 2023

Who will replace Johnathan Davis in the Assembly? Electoral Commissioner announces timeline

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Johnathan Davis MLA

Johnathan Davis resigned on 12 November. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The name of the candidate elected to replace Johnathan Davis should be known on Monday, 27 November, the ACT Electoral Commissioner has announced.

Damien Cantwell said on Friday (17 November) that he had received official notification of the casual vacancy from the Speaker of the Assembly Joy Burch MLA.

Mr Davis formally resigned from the Assembly on Sunday (12 November) following allegations of sexual misconduct.

A police investigation has been opened into allegations Mr Davis had been involved in “possible sexual interactions with younger people”.

An independent inquiry will also be launched to investigate ACT Greens’ handling of the allegations.

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“I am now able to outline the official timetable to fill the Legislative Assembly vacancy,” Mr Cantwell said.

Vacancies in the Legislative Assembly are filled by conducting a ‘countback’ of ballots that elected the vacating member. In effect, the electors who voted for Mr Davis will determine his replacement.

“To begin the countback process, a public notice will appear on Friday, 17 November 2023, in The Canberra Times inviting candidates who unsuccessfully stood in the Brindabella electorate at the 2020 election to contest the vacancy. Where practicable, the Commission will also notify all those unsuccessful candidates directly,” Mr Cantwell said.

The candidates have 10 days from then to indicate if they wish to contest the vacancy. Candidates’ applications must be received by 12 pm on Monday, 27 November 2023.

“At 12:30 pm on 27 November 2023, the names of the candidates contesting the vacancy will be officially declared. A computer counting program will then be used to determine which candidate will be elected to the Assembly to replace Mr Davis,” Mr Cantwell said.

It is expected that the official declaration of the result will take place on Tuesday, 28 November, at 3:30 pm.

The public is invited to attend the two events, which will take place at the Legislative Assembly.

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ABC chief election analyst Antony Green recently offered more insight into what might happen during the countback process.

“Any candidate who stood in 2020 can nominate, but the only two with a chance of victory would be the other two Greens candidates, Laura Nuttall and Sue Ellerman,” he said on social media on Tuesday.

“70 per cent of Davis’s ballot papers had a second preference for one of those two candidates.”

Ms Ellerman received 1309 first preference votes and Ms Nuttall received 1657.

“Both were excluded during the count and helped elect Davis. Both receive votes back from Davis in the countback in the same proportion as their first preferences,” Mr Green wrote.

portrait of woman

Laura Nuttall is expected to replace Johnathan Davis in the Legislative Assembly. Photo: ACT Greens.

Of Davis’s 3019 votes in 2020, 1320 had Ms Nuttall as second preference and 827 chose Ms Ellerman as second preference.

“Further preferences and preferences from other candidates would also favour Nuttall,” Mr Green wrote.

“If both Green candidates nominate for the countback, Nuttall is highly likely to be elected.”

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Ray Polglaze7:09 pm 19 Nov 23

The caption for the photo says “Laura Nuttall is expected to replace Johnathan Davis in the Legislative Assembly”. That expectation assumes that Laura Nuttall is going to nominate for the vacancy.

But there doesn’t seem to have been a public statement by Nuttall that she intends to return to a career in politics. That’s possibly a bit strange if she was about to launch into a campaign to hold the seat at the next election.

If you look at her updated Linkedin profile, it also doesn’t look like that is the direction she is going. Before Jonathan Davis resigned, her profile referred enthusiastically to her work as a policy advisor to Davis.

But since then she has updated her profile so that it now refers enthusiastically to her work since April 2023 in ACT Libraries. She seems to be very much enjoying that work.

Her policy work for Davis has been reduced to “I served as an advisor for the ACT Greens in the ACT Legislative Assembly”.

And to be fair, taking over the seat from Davis is going to be a really tough gig for a young person wanting to have a career and a life. Davis has clearly poisoned the well.

Nuttall would be looking at 11 months of being trashed because of her work for Davis, probably losing the election, and then being left without a job, a reputation and much in the way of career prospects.

At least now she has the option of a career in ACT Libraries and the possibility of breaking free of the stench from Davis.

While this may be disappointing to the ACT Greens, I think there would be a lot of people advising her to be sensible and to keep the job she has.

Capital Retro6:06 pm 17 Nov 23

Let’s hope it is an adult person this time.

Wouldn’t it depend on who goes for the vacancy?
If the others all resign the greens might have a split vote that might reach the labor member before promoting a green.

If one of the greens steps out (sue) most of her preferences would reach Nuttal and she’ll get to a full preference first.

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