The formal process to replace ACT Liberal politician Steve Doszpot has begun, after the 69-year-old died after a year-long battle with liver cancer.
It is the first time an ACT parliamentarian has died in office, although there have been 13 casual vacancies since self government in 1989.
Mr Doszpot had announced his retirement in October but it was not due to take effect until December 5.
It is understood Mr Doszpot did not resign immediately because he wanted his office to keep working on his dangerous dog laws, which are due to be debated on Wednesday.
His death has triggered a countback of the 2016 ACT Election.
Unlike other parliaments in Australia, the Assembly does not hold a by-election to fill casual vacancies.
Failed candidates from the 2016 election will be contacted to see if they’re willing to stand again.
Mr Doszpot’s first preference votes will then be redistributed to see which candidate is next preferred by the people who voted for him.
However if no-one renominates, the Legislative Assembly can choose someone to fill the seat.
If that happened, the new member would have to be from the same political party as Mr Doszpot – the Canberra Liberals.
However it is likely Liberal candidates Candice Burch or Brooke Curtin will replace Mr Doszpot through the countback, although Labor’s Josh Ceramidas, independent Marea Fatseas or the Greens Rebecca Vassarotti are outside chances.
Former candidates in Mr Doszpot’s inner Canberra seat of Kurrajong will have 10 standard days to re-nominate.
Speaker Joy Burch on Monday wrote to the ACT Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell to kick the process off.
But the 10-day-period for re-nomination can only begin after an advertisement is placed in the Canberra Times, Deputy Electoral Commissioner Ro Spence said.
“We need to ensure the 10 days end on a week day but there is a lead time to get ads into the Canberra Times so it is difficult to predict until we start making those calls, which we can’t do until we receive the letter from the Speaker,” Mr Spence said.
And while the Electoral Commission will know who the new MLA is by 12.30pm on the 10th day, Canberrans won’t know for at least a few extra days.
“The formal declaration of the result will be held several days after the count back. It is not a standard period of time, it really exists to allow the successful candidate time to resign from any public office, if they hold one,” Mr Spence said.
“Any formal swearing in is not within the Electoral Commission’s jurisdiction, however the term of the MLA begins at the end of the day when the election of the MLA is declared.”
That swearing in is likely to take place about February 13, in the first sitting week of the new year, ACT Legislative Assembly Clerk Tom Duncan said.
Mr Doszpot served in the ACT’s parliament for nine years and will be remembered by his colleagues in a condolence motion on Tuesday.
Details for his funeral are yet to be announced.