The citizenship crisis, which has already claimed the scalps of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and four other senators, shows no signs of stopping, with the story taking a bizarre twist surrounding Liberal MP John Alexander.
Details emerged last week suggesting both Alexander and the Government’s energy minister Josh Frydenberg may hold dual citizenship.
In a bizarre twist, the ABC’s 7.30 program reported on Tuesday night that Mr Alexander had entered a chicken shop near his electorate office a few days ago to ask a local Justice of the Peace to witness him signing some documents.
“He briefly said to me it’s about the citizenship fiasco and all this,” George Dib told the program.
“He also said to me, look, as far as he’s concerned, his father came here as an infant. Really, Mr Alexander, to me, he’s a true blue Aussie.”
Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, has demanded that Mr Alexander’s case be brought before the High Court, after it was alleged that he inherited British citizenship from his father.
Mr Alexander’s situation appears similar to that of Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, who were disqualified by the High Court; and Stephen Parry, who resigned in the knowledge he would also be ruled ineligible.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten will meet today to work out the details of a disclosure motion to compel politicians to provide details of their citizenship status.
“I think the system of voluntary disclosure with obviously very heavy penalties, political penalties and personal reputational penalties if people conceal things or don’t disclose things honestly; I think that works and I think it will work well here,” Mr Turnbull told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed citizenship disclosure legislation to try and deal with the unfolding crisis around the election of ineligible candidates is a farce.
Relying on the honesty of politicians is what has got us into this mess in the first place. Politicians are already asked to sign a statement, confirming their citizenship status when they fill out their candidate form, and it is increasingly apparent they are unable to meet this requirement.
Mr Turnbull’s proposal places the level of the offences on par with complying with the register of pecuniary interests. Members of parliament break these guidelines frequently, with little more than a slap on the wrist as penalty.
Citizenship breaches require more than a slap on the wrist; they require immediate expulsion from Parliament.
Labor’s backflip last week, calling for a complete audit of all MPs is a step in the right direction, but surely now that the crisis continues to grow, the only real solution to the problem is a new election.
Now that so many members of parliament are under question we should be questioning the validity of many of the laws that have been passed since the last election.
The Government’s slim majority is already at risk. If John Alexander is found to have held dual citizenship, there will be a by-election in his marginal Sydney seat of Bennelong, which could change the balance of power in the House of Representatives.
What do you think? Do you think a complete citizenship audit is necessary? Would you like to see a new election to settle the matter for good? Would you like to see a referendum on section 44 of the Constitution?