New rules for political candidates
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.