PM urged Alexan­der to re­sign

The Sunday Times - - POLITICAL DRAMA - SHARRI MARKSON JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

MAL­COLM Turnbull en­cour­aged Lib­eral MP John Alexan­der to do the “right” and “hon­ourable thing” and re­sign from his mar­ginal seat on ac­count of his likely Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship, in an ex­tra­or­di­nary move that will see the Prime Min­is­ter pre­side over a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment.

WA Lib­eral MP Nola Marino last night also told The Sun­day Times that she was not a dual cit­i­zen af­ter a re­port the For­rest MHR might have un­know­ingly ob­tained Ital­ian cit­i­zen­ship through mar­riage.

In re­sponse, Ms Marino said in a state­ment: “The High Court found that in or­der to be an Ital­ian cit­i­zen you are re­quired to be reg­is­tered. The court found it is about regis­tra­tion, not re­la­tion­ship — I am not reg­is­tered.”

Yes­ter­day, Mr Turnbull drew on Mr Alexan­der’s res­ig­na­tion, which has left him vul­ner­a­ble to los­ing con­trol of Par­lia­ment, to step up pres­sure on Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten to stop run­ning a “pro­tec­tion racket” for a group of sus­pected dual-cit­i­zen La­bor MPs.

“John Alexan­der has done the right thing. I spoke to him last night and he told me that he was no longer suf­fi­ciently sat­is­fied or no longer sure that he was not a UK cit­i­zen,” he said.

“If mem­bers be­lieve they are no longer eli­gi­ble to sit in the Par­lia­ment they shouldn’t sit in the Par­lia­ment.”

Mr Alexan­der, below, will con­test a by-elec­tion in his mar­ginal seat of Ben­ne­long, which could be as early as De­cem­ber 16.

A group of La­bor MPs are re­fus­ing to re­sign de­spite se­ri­ous doubts over their el­i­gi­bil­ity to sit in Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing Jus­tine Keay and Su­san Lamb, along with Se­na­tor Katy Gal­lagher.

Mr Turnbull said the MPs should fol­low Mr Alexan­der’s lead and face a by-elec­tion on the same day.

“John has done the right thing, the hon­ourable thing,”Mr Turnbull said.

“He has re­signed his seat and Bill Shorten and La­bor should now se­ri­ously con­sider whether their mem­bers who ad­mit­ted they were UK cit­i­zens at the time they nom­i­nated, not only were but knew they were, whether they should do the right thing, re­sign from Par­lia­ment now and the by-elec­tions can be held on the same day as the by-elec­tion for Ben­ne­long.”

Act­ing Prime Min­ster Julie Bishop echoed Mr Turnbull’s calls for the Op­po­si­tion Leader to ad­dress doubts over La­bor MPs.

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