The dual citizenship fiasco has already claimed senators Scott Ludlam, Larissa Waters, Fiona Nash, Stephen Parry, Malcolm Roberts, Jacqui Lambie and Skye Kakosche-Moore and members of the House of Representatives David Feeney, John Alexander and Barnaby Joyce, although Alexander and Joyce were re-elected in by-elections. All of these members of both houses were referred to the High Court by the house of parliament in which they sat1.
Now Labor senator Katy Gallagher has been deemed unanimously by the High Court as ineligible to sit in parliament, because she failed to renounce her British citizenship by the nomination deadline prior to the 2016 federal election, thereby falling foul of Section 44 of the Constitution1,2. This precipitated the resignation of three Labor MPs (Josh Wilson, Susan Lamb and Justine Keay) and one Centre Alliance MP (Rebekah Sharkie) who were all relying on the same defence as Gallagher2. Gallagher was referred to the High Court by parliament after the publication of the Citizenship Register – 45th Parliament3.
However, all in this latest group are on the opposition benches or cross-benches. Does that mean there are no more to be referred? No, it doesn’t. What it does mean is that the remaining parliamentarians under a serious citizenship cloud are on the government benches, and that they are protected by the government’s numbers in the House of Representatives. The last thing the government wants is to lose its majority, and it realises that, in its current state, being almost as unpopular as herpes, by-elections are the last thing it needs. After all, the Constitution is of secondary importance compared to putting the government’s power at risk.
Some of the Coalition members of the House of Representatives under a citizenship cloud include: Julia Banks (Greece), Jason Falinski (UK, Russia, Poland), Josh Frydenberg (Hungary), Michael Sukkar (Lebanon) and Ann Sudmalis (UK). All of them state in their submissions to the Citizenship Register that they do not have citizenship of the relevant country. However, that addresses only part of the question raised by the Constitution. The relevant part of Section 44 states that a person is ineligible to run or sit as a parliamentarian if that person:
“is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power.4”
So, it is not simply about being a citizen of a foreign power, but also being entitled to become a citizen of a foreign power. A quick survey of those whose surnames begin with the letters A-F3, brings up the following as not addressing the citizenship entitlement part of Section 44: Karen Andrews (UK), Scott Buchholz (UK), Mark Butler (UK), George Christensen (UK), Steven Ciobo (Italy), Chris Crewther (South Korea), Michael Danby (Germany), Mark Dreyfus (Germany), Kate Ellis (UK) and Michael Freelander (Fiji). Laughably, some of the politicians’ submissions to the citizenship register assert that they have satisfied themselves that they are not in breach of Section 44. That was also Malcolm Roberts’ assertion at the time of his referral, and that was shown by the High Court to be abject rubbish. The only way we can be sure that such assertions are not also rubbish is to have all of them referred to the High Court.
What is most disturbing about this is the lack of integrity of the Government. It is quite happy to have Opposition members referred to the High Court, but on no account will it refer its own possible dual nationals. It is symptomatic of their disdain for democracy.