Wagga MP Daryl Maguire will be able to keep his seat as an independent as long as his conscience allows, according to a politics expert.
Charles Sturt University Associate Professor in political science Dominic O’Sullivan said Mr Maguire could continue to hold his position in parliament until the next election.
“Legally, he can, there’s no question about that; whether he can morally is a matter for his conscience,” Professor O’Sullivan said.
“It’s also a matter of how well his constituents think he can serve their interests as local member.
“They elected him as a member of the Liberal Party, expecting that he would contribute to parliament in that way.”
Mr Maguire quit the Liberal Party on Friday after revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation’s into Canterbury City Council.
The commission heard a recorded phone call that detailed how Mr Maguire sought to use his influence as an MP for personal gain from a Sydney property deal.
Mr Maguire now sits on the crossbench despite mounting calls, from both within his seat and from political leaders, for him to quit parliament entirely.
“Whilst it is for Mr Maguire alone to determine whether he stays on as the elected member until next March, I would encourage him to think carefully as to whether he can effectively represent the people of Wagga Wagga from here on in,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
As a crossbench MP, Professor O’Sullivan said Mr Maguire’s vote would not normally make the difference between passing or blocking legislation as the LIberal Party had kept its majority.
Professor O’Sullivan said there were examples of independent MPs serving their electorates well, but those members were in different circumstances to that of Mr Maguire.
“If the people of Wagga wanted an independent, they would have voted for one,” Professor O’Sullivan said.
“Independents like Cathy McGowan were elected in their own right.”
As long as Mr Maguire continued to perform his role in parliament, he would expect to receive a similar salary to what he received as of last week, Professor O’Sullivan said.
As of July 1, the base salary for a lower house NSW MP was more than $165,000 with additional electorate allowances of between $49,000 and $140,000.
As Parliamentary Secretary for the Centenary of Anzac, Counter Terrorism, Corrections and Veterans, Mr Maguire likely received additional remuneration equal to 25 per cent of his base pay.
Mr Maguire likely took a $41,000-per-year pay cut on Friday after he resigned from all parliamentary roles except for his seat.
Should Mr Maguire continue to hold his seat until the next election, due in March, he could face a National Party opponent, as was as candidates from the Liberal, Greens, Labor and Shooters parties.
Under a Coalition agreement, the lack of a Liberal incumbent would allow the conservative parties to run candidates against each other.
Professor O’Sullivan said Mr Maguire would struggle to be re-elected under any foreseeable scenario.
“There has been speculation that the National Party would field a candidate, so we’ll just have to see how that pans out,” he said.
“By-elections are fairly costly, but I think putting a price on democracy is rather dangerous.
“If Maguire resigns, the people of Wagga are entitled to a voice in parliament and democracy costs money … democracy has to be the main concern here.
“You can’t say ‘we’re not having a by-election because it costs too much’, but I guess that’s an argument Maguire could use for staying.”
Ms Berejiklian said the Liberal Party would be “bringing forward the opening of nominations for the seat of Wagga so that an appropriate new candidate for the Liberal Party can be preselected”.