Independent Despi O’Connor says she’s still standing in Flinders

Independent candidate Despi O’Connor says she has quit her job as a school teacher to keep alive her campaign to win the seat of Flinders after questions arose about her eligibility.

O’Connor said she had sought advice from constitutional experts and lawyers, including barristers, after concerns were raised that she may be ineligible because of her employment as a school teacher.

Despi O’Connor has resumed her campaign for Flinders.

“There is nothing to categorically say that I am ineligible to run for election or sit for parliament,” she said. “I have tendered my resignation as a public school teacher.”

O’Connor’s campaign appeared in doubt earlier this week when it emerged she was still employed as a teacher even though she was on leave.

In a statement on Wednesday, O’Connor said she had become aware she may be ineligible under Section 44(vi) of the Australian Constitution that says any person who holds any office of profit under the Crown “shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the House of Representatives”.

This can include public school teachers.

On Friday O’Connor said teachers, nurses, health and emergency service workers should not face “unnecessary hurdles to represent their community.”

“These are the exact people that we need to represent our electorate.”

Retiring Liberal MP Greg Hunt holds the seat by 5.6 per cent. O’Connor is one of 10 candidates vying to replace him.

O’Connor has the backing of activist group Climate 200.

“My name is on the ballot. My campaign continues. I am standing to take Flinders to Canberra.”

Former independent Phil Cleary was disqualified as an MP for the Melbourne seat of Wills in 1992 after the High Court ruled he was ineligible because he was a Victorian school teacher. Cleary had been on leave without pay at the time.

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