Sydney, 4 Nov, 2017
Initially, it was “Citizenship Seven”, about which the High Court of Australia gave its verdict on Friday, 27 October, 2917.
Section 44 of Australian Constitution debars dual-citizens from becoming members of Australian Parliament (The Senate and the House of Representatives).
Barnaby Joyce (The National Party member and Deputy Prime Minister), Fiona Nash (The National), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Larissa Waters (The Greens) and Scott Ludlam (The Greens) were declared ineligible to sit in the Parliament. Matt Canavan (the Liberal National Party) and Nick Xenophon (The Nick Xenophon Team) were declared eligible to be in the Parliament. Even before the judgment, The Green senators had already resigned and Nick Xenophon had declared his intention to quit the Senate to focus in South Australian politics.
Subsequently, Stephen Parry (President of the Senate) declared himself to be a dual-citizen and resigned from the Senate.
Now, there is a controversy about Josh Frydenberg (a senior Ministet in the Coalition Government) whether he is a dual-citizen too.
There is some confusion and speculation whether there are more dual citizens, hence ineligible members, in the Parliament.
This uncertainty needs to be dealt with. The Government and the Parliament must be freed from the uncertainty about what decision involving ineligible members might later be challenged. The focus must be in the respective jobs, not on dual citizenship. The distraction must end.
People must have the confidence that laws passed by the Parliament are indeed passed by only those who are legally entitled to be in the Parliament.
The best strategy here will be to do an audit of citizenship status of every member of the Parliament. A committee of reputed jurists, chaired by a retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, should be tasked to do the job in 2 months.
With many members of the Parliament demanding it and with Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten coming around with his support for this audit, it’s time that Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, agreed with the citizenship Audit for all MPs and Senators.
Dr Yadu Singh