Labor candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters says the party will look at changing the vetting process for candidates to ensure they are eligible under Section 44 of the Australian constitution.
Section 44 outlines whether a person is eligible to sit as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives based on criteria such as their citizenship status of another country or if they are an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.
"Labor prior to the election, during the election and post election acknowledge there has to be further work with Section 44 of the constitution," Ms Chesters said. "The fact that there are so many candidates in limbo is a concern.
"Ultimately the biggest challenge is that we do need to look at the constitution but reforming the constitution is very difficult in Australia."
In the past two years, 16 members of parliament have been found ineligible under Section 44 or have resigned over eligibility doubts.
Liberal candidate for Bendigo Sam Gayed said he was "not concerned" about the eligibility of other candidates.
"There are processes already in place and I think those processes are working," Mr Gayed said.
"Usually when I run a campaign, I just focus on getting people to vote for me. I'm not aware of what other candidates do or their eligibility.
"I'm focused on my own campaign and I'm not worried about other candidates."
For the first time in a federal election, candidates who have nominated to run have been required to fill in a form from the Australian Electoral Commission which questioned their eligibility under Section 44.
The AEC however said on its website that it "does not have the authority to determine the eligibility of any candidate on the basis of information provided in the checklist or any additional documentation".
Honorary associate in politics at La Trobe University Bendigo, Ian Tulloch, said it meant there were candidates who were "not ineligible to stand but were ineligible to sit in parliament".
"The AEC has no power," Mr Tulloch said. "The parliament would need to change the electoral laws to ensure the AEC has a vetting process so they can examine the authenticity of candidates.
"It would be something for the parliament but I doubt that would ever happen."
The other option would be to change Section 44 of the constitution, which was the recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry last year.
"That would require a referendum of the Australian people," Mr Tulloch said. "I don't think the major parties would be interested in that."
There are two candidates running for the seat of Bendigo who have questions around their eligibility to sit in the federal parliament.
Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party candidate Julie Hoskin is a former Bendigo councillor who led an unsuccessful legal objection to a mosque all the way to the High Court, where she was refused leave to appeal and later went bankrupt, unable to pay the costs of the case.
She declared in her AEC submission form that she was an undischarged bankrupt, but that she was appealing her bankruptcy.
United Australia Party candidate Adam Veitch also did not provide evidence about his family history in his submission to the AEC.
Mr Veitch filled out all mandatory questions, ticking "yes" when asked if he had parents or grandparents born in another country and if he knew which citizenships they held. But he did not provide their details, nor did he answer a question about why he did not provide that information.
Mr Veitch said he had submitted evidence to his party and was unaware it had not been forwarded to the AEC with his checklist until contacted by the Bendigo Advertiser.
"Candidates are expected to put themselves out there but I think when we talk about family members, they deserve not to have (the choice) of people not digging into their privacy," he said.
Mr Tulloch said the onus needed to fall back onto the parties the candidates were representing.
"The parties should be more diligent in the process of choosing their candidates," Mr Tulloch said.
"They have had a long time to work this out in the campaign and the fact that they can select someone who has issues around their eligibility is just ridiculous. It just shows how desperate they are."
Mr Tulloch said the cases from the past two years showed what would happen to any candidate who was elected into parliament but deemed to be ineligible.
"If there are questions around their eligibility, their case will be sent to the High Court under the Court of Disputed Returns," Mr Tulloch said.
"If they are a dual citizen and haven't renounced their citizenship of another country, then they will be declared ineligible
"If they are in the House of Representatives, they will need to be replaced in a byelection but if they are in the Senate then the next person on their ticket takes their place."
Despite the frustration, Mr Tulloch said he does not think there should be any penalties introduced for people who run as candidates despite being ineligible.
"People do make mistakes and parties are desperate at times for candidates," he said. "But I don't think that warrants any sorts of fines or other penalties."
Going forward, Labor would assess all of the options after the federal election, Ms Chesters said.
"There's a committee within parliament that looks at electoral matters," Ms Chesters said.
"My understanding in talking with MPs and senators from both Labor and the Coalition is that they were keen for the committee to continue.
"But we will have to wait and see the result of the election and who forms government."
A person is ineligible to sit in federal parliament under Section 44 if they:
- are a citizen of another country
- have a criminal conviction carrying a jail term of one year or more
- are an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent
- hold any office of profit under the Crown i.e. work as a public servant
- benefit financially from their role, either directly or indirectly i.e. owning a company that gets money through government contracts
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.