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Published On: Mon, Nov 6th, 2017

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull proposed all lawmakers prove they are not dual citizens

nsnbc : Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has proposed making all lawmakers prove they are not dual citizens. Australia’s High Court last month disqualified five lawmakers, including two government ministers, because they breached a 116-year-old constitutional ban on foreign citizens sitting in Parliament, creating a political crisis.

If one could read minds: "How lucky that non of the major media asked how it could be that so many MPs ignored the Constitution"?

If one could read minds: “How lucky that non of the major media asked how it could be that so many MPs ignored the Constitution”? “Hope the Brits won’t crack jokes a about a prisoner colony again”?

Turnbull said his Cabinet decided on Monday that all lawmakers should provide evidence to Parliament that they’re not dual citizens. Turnbull has previously resisted calls for added scrutiny of lawmakers’ citizenship status. The Turnbull government is reportedly “trying to limit the damage from the citizenship crisis” with a plan to have all members of parliament make declarations about their circumstances.

The motion, agreed to by cabinet on Monday, will be moved in the Senate next week and in the House of Representatives when it resumes late this month. The move came as questions continued about the status of Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, whose mother was born in Budapest but arrived in Australia stateless, and assistant minister Alex Hawke, born of a Greek mother.

Fairfax Media late Monday local time reported that Liberal backbencher John Alexander, who holds the New South Wales (NSW) seat of Bennelong, might be a dual British citizen by descent because his father was born in the United Kingdom. It quoted a spokesman saying that Alexander “believes” his father renounced his British citizenship before Alexander was born. Last week Senate president Stephen Parry quit parliament when he found he was a dual British citizen by descent.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten – who proposed on Friday a universal disclosure by members of parliament which was dismissed by Turnbull – said he would meet with the Prime Minister on Wednesday to discuss the move. But Shorten said this was “a rather dramatic about-face” and questioned what was behind Turnbull’s change of heart.

Some none-partisan observers would notice with surprise, Australian lawmakers disregard for the Constitution by even running in elections while holding two passports / citizenships. Section 44 of the constitution prohibits a dual citizen being eligible to sit in parliament. Under the Turnbull government’s plan, MPs will have to state within 21 days of the resolutions being passed in their respective houses,

… that when they nominated they were not, to the best of their “knowledge and belief”, a citizen of any other country, and that they are not currently a dual citizen;

… the place and date of their birth, and their citizenship at that time;

… the places and dates of their parents’ births;

… whether the MP has ever been a citizen of another country, and if so, the details and evidence of the time and manner of the renunciation of that citizenship or how otherwise it ended.

Turnbull said the move was about transparency, confidence and standing up for the constitution. He stressed this would not be an “audit” – for which there have been widespread calls – because an audit would involve bringing in an outsider. “The obligation to comply with the constitution, in terms of being qualified to sit in the House or the Senate, is on the shoulders of each and every member and senator”, he told a news conference after the cabinet discussion. “That’s why this will be their declarations and their disclosures”.

F/AK – nsnbc 06.11.2017

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