Dual national con­flict

Bri­tish-de­scent Lam­bie is lat­est in Aussie dual cit­i­zen­ship cri­sis

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Aussie Par­lia­ment loses its eighth law­maker over con­sti­tu­tional ban.


An in­de­pen­dent Aus­tralian se­na­tor who is Bri­tish by de­scent be­came the eighth law­maker to leave Par­lia­ment in re­cent months over a 116-yearold con­sti­tu­tional ban on dual na­tion­als run­ning for of­fice that threat­ens to bring down the gov­ern­ment.

Jac­qui Lam­bie tear­fully re­signed a day af­ter the Se­nate set a Dec 1 dead­line for Aus­trali­aborn sen­a­tors to pro­vide doc­u­mented ev­i­dence that they had not in­her­ited the cit­i­zen­ship of an im­mi­grant par­ent or grand­par­ent.

Lam­bie said the Bri­tish Home Of­fice ad­vised her on Tues­day that her Scot­tish-born grand­fa­ther had not re­nounced his cit­i­zen­ship af­ter mi­grat­ing to Aus­tralia, mak­ing her and her fa­ther Bri­tish.

“It is with great re­gret that I have to in­form you that I had been found in­el­i­gi­ble by way of dual cit­i­zen­ship,” Lam­bie told the Se­nate.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull’s con­ser­va­tive coali­tion could lose two seats in by-elec­tions next month af­ter gov­ern­ment law­maker John Alexan­der re­signed from Par­lia­ment last week be­cause he had likely in­her­ited Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship from his English-born fa­ther.

Kristina Ke­neally, a Las Ve­gas­born for­mer New South Wales state premier, an­nounced on Tues­day that she would run as a can­di­date for the op­po­si­tion Labour Party against Alexan­der in a Dec 16 by-elec­tion for his Sydney- based seat, hav­ing re­nounced her US cit­i­zen­ship. Alexan­der must shed his Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship by then.

Aus­tralia is rare if not unique in the world in ban­ning dual na­tion­als from sit­ting in Par­lia­ment. Pres­sure is grow­ing to re­form the con­sti­tu­tion amid the grow­ing uncer­tainty over how many by-elec­tions might re­sult from the cur­rent cri­sis.

The eight law­mak­ers who have lost their jobs so far were dual cit­i­zens of Bri­tain, Canada and New Zealand. Like Aus­tralia, those coun­tries are mem­bers of the Bri­tish Com­mon­wealth and share a head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. When the con­sti­tu­tion came into ef­fect in 1901, decades be­fore Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship ex­isted, any Bri­tish sub­ject was en­ti­tled to stand for the Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is ex­pected to also set a dead­line for its law­mak­ers to prove they are solely Aus­tralian when it next sits from Nov 27.

Any law­mak­ers who re­main un­der a cloud af­ter declar­ing their cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus would be re­ferred to the High Court to de­cide whether they were legally elected. A series of by-elec­tions that could change the gov­ern­ment could be sched­uled early next year.

— Reuters

Tear­ful: Lam­bie re­act­ing af­ter her res­ig­na­tion.

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