Hawke under citizen cloud
ASSISTANT Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has denied allegations he could be a dual Greek citizen following revelations his mother was born in Greece.
The minister, who represents the seat of Mitchell in northwest Sydney, claims he has only “solely held Australian citizenship”.
But questions have emerged about Mr Hawke’s eligibility because his mother was born in Greece and migrated to Australia in the 1950s.
According to the Greek embassy in Canberra, a person acquires Greek citizenship at the time of birth “if said person is born to a parent of Greek nationality”, whether it is activated or not.
“...that is, the offspring of a Greek citizen, even if the parent has not exercised his/her right to citizenship”.
But it also states Greek citizens must be “duly registered in the records of a municipality of the Hellenic Republic”.
In a statement to the Sunday Herald Sun, Mr Hawke said: “I was born in Wollongong, have lived my whole life in Australia and have only ever solely held Australian citizenship”.
“I am an Australian citizen only and have never held or acquired or sought Greek or any other citizenship”.
Earlier this year Mr Hawke’s colleagues Julia Banks and Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos were also forced to deny they were dual Greek citizens.
At the time the Liberal Party said it received confirmation from the Greek embassy that Ms Banks was not registered as a Greek citizen.
Senator Sinodinos, whose parents were born on the Greek island of Cephalonia, said he had “never held Greek citizenship”. But constitutional expert Professor George Williams said the case of the three MPs had not been tested.
“We have not seen expert opinions on these three MPs with Greek heritage,” he said.
“But the Australian law is clear; if Greek law regards a person as a citizen they are disqualified from sitting in Parliament unless they have taken reasonable steps to renounce Greek citizenship.”
He said the final decision maker was the High Court.
Two Labor MPs Maria Vamvakinou and Steve Georganas, claim they wrote to the embassy to renounce rights to citizenship before being elected.
During his maiden speech, Mr Hawke paid tribute to his family who were part of the post-World War II migration wave to Australia.
In 2014 he also tweeted about his Greek heritage saying: “I can’t help being born half Greek, in fact I’m proud of it”.