New rules for po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates

The West Australian - - NEWS - Phoebe Wearne

Mal­colm Turn­bull has ruled out a ref­er­en­dum to end the dual citizenship cri­sis, but new rules re­quir­ing can­di­dates to sub­mit de­tailed citizenship dec­la­ra­tions be­fore they nom­i­nate should be in­tro­duced in time for the im­pend­ing “su­per Satur­day” by­elec­tions.

The Prime Min­is­ter strength­ened his op­po­si­tion to a na­tional vote yes­ter­day af­ter the cross-party Joint Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Elec­toral Mat­ters urged a ref­er­en­dum to ei­ther re­peal or amend sec­tion 44 of the Con­sti­tu­tion and draw a line un­der the dual citizenship fi­asco that has forced 15 MPs and sen­a­tors out of Fed­eral Par­lia­ment.

The re­port, re­leased yes­ter­day, found that sec­tion 44 is “stuck in 1901” and more than half of all Aus­tralians are in­el­i­gi­ble to sit in Par­lia­ment.

If a ref­er­en­dum does not pro­ceed or pass, it rec­om­mends that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­sider strate­gies to mit­i­gate the im­pact of sec­tion 44, in­clud­ing giv­ing MPs ex­tra pro­tec­tions against be­ing dragged be­fore the High Court. Com­mit­tee chair­woman Linda Reynolds warned a grow­ing num­ber of Aus­tralians may never be able to nom­i­nate for Par­lia­ment be­cause they would not be able to deal with dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions that made them in­el­i­gi­ble.

“The rules are now very clear that all can­di­dates must have their pa­per­work sorted, not just those who won, and the im­pli­ca­tions of that I think will now play out over the next few elec­tions if we don’t have a ref­er­en­dum,” Se­na­tor Reynolds said.

Mr Turn­bull said there was no time to hold a ref­er­en­dum be­fore the by-elec­tions or the next gen­eral Fed­eral elec­tion, and he doubted such a ques­tion would ever pass any­way.

He said it should be in­cum­bent on MPs to lead by ex­am­ple and en­sure they were com­pli­ant.

Spe­cial Min­is­ter of State Mathias Cor­mann said the im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the re­port would be to im­prove the can­di­date nom­i­na­tion process to elim­i­nate as best as pos­si­ble dual cit­i­zens en­ter­ing Fed­eral pol­i­tics in the first place.

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