Turn­bull backs new rules to end dual citizenship cir­cus

The Southland Times - - World -

The Turn­bull gov­ern­ment has ruled out a ref­er­en­dum to end the dual citizenship de­ba­cle once and for all, but will in­tro­duce new rules to re­duce the like­li­hood of fur­ther High Court cases.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull last year tasked a pow­er­ful par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, headed by a Lib­eral se­na­tor, to ex­am­ine the sec­tion 44 fi­asco. Yes­ter­day, it urged a ref­er­en­dum to re­peal or amend the con­sti­tu­tion – but that was ky­boshed by the gov­ern­ment within an hour.

Spe­cial Min­is­ter of State Mathias Cor­mann said the gov- ern­ment was ‘‘not in­clined to pur­sue a ref­er­en­dum . . . at this time’’ be­cause ‘‘con­sti­tu­tional change is chal­leng­ing and mak­ing the case would take more time than is avail­able prior to the next gen­eral elec­tion’’.

How­ever, he gave the nod to a new dis­clo­sure regime to mit­i­gate the ef­fect of sec­tion 44 and re­duce the like­li­hood of more cases com­ing be­fore the High Court.

All can­di­dates will need to pub­licly de­clare their fam­ily his­tory when they nom­i­nate to con­test an elec­tion – as well as any relevant fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion that could dis­qual­ify them un­der the law.

Cor­mann said he wanted to en­sure the new dec­la­ra­tion rules were in place be­fore the five up­com­ing by­elec­tions, in­clud­ing the four prompted by cit­i­zen­shiprelated res­ig­na­tions.

Fur­ther ar­range­ments urged by the Joint Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Elec­toral Mat­ters – but not yet agreed to by the gov­ern­ment – would give MPs ex­tra pro­tec­tions against be­ing dragged be­fore the High Court.

Ri­vals would have 40 days af­ter an elec­tion to chal­lenge some­one based on the above dec­la­ra­tion, af­ter which the is­sue ‘‘can­not be raised again’’ for the life of the Par­lia­ment.

Cru­cially, the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee would agree not to re­fer to the High Court any MP whose case swung solely on a ques­tion of foreign citizenship law.

The Joint Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Elec­toral Mat­ters, chaired by Lib­eral se­na­tor Linda Reynolds, was stri­dent in its pref­er­ence for a ref­er­en­dum to fix the citizenship prob­lem ‘‘once and for all’’.

In a pointed re­buke of Turn­bull’s po­si­tion that a ref­er­en­dum was too dif­fi­cult and un­likely to suc­ceed, the re­port ar­gued: ‘‘We, as mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, should never be afraid of the de­bate and putting these ques­tions to the Aus­tralian pub­lic.’’ – Fair­fax

FAIR­FAX

The Joint Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Elec­toral Mat­ters, chaired by Lib­eral se­na­tor Linda Reynolds, was stri­dent in its pref­er­ence for a ref­er­en­dum to fix the citizenship prob­lem ‘‘once and for all’’.

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