Sunday 18 August 2019

Another Australian politician under dual citizen cloud

The Australian prime minister has proposed making all politicians prove they are not foreign nationals
The Australian prime minister has proposed making all politicians prove they are not foreign nationals

Another Australian politician has had his eligibility to sit in Parliament called into question due to a constitutional ban on dual citizens, while the Prime Minister proposed making all politicians prove they are not foreign nationals.

John Alexander would not comment on Tuesday on media reports that he was seeking clarification from London on whether he had inherited British citizenship from his father.

He said in a statement: "I understand he renounced his British citizenship before I was born because he was a proud Australian."

If Mr Alexander is proved to be a dual citizen, he would become the seventh politician to be forced from office since last month's High Court ruling which enforced a 116-year-old constitutional ban on foreign citizens sitting in Parliament.

That has created an unprecedented political crisis that could threaten the majority of Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's conservative coalition.

House of Representatives politicians found to be dual citizens must renounce their foreign citizenship and then win a by-election if they want to return to their seat.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who was disqualified by the High Court last month over New Zealand citizenship he inherited from his New Zealand-born father, has chosen that route and will run in an election on December 2.

Five senators who have lost their seats will be replaced by members of their own parties without a by-election so there is no change to the political balance of power.

Mr Alexander, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2010, announced that his father was born in Britain after Mr Turnbull proposed making all politicians prove they are not dual citizens.

They would have to state where and when their parents were born, details that could reveal an inherited second nationality.

Those born overseas would have to provide records of how and when their foreign citizenship was renounced.

The citizenship registry proposal needs the endorsement of Parliament.

Mr Turnbull told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio on Tuesday that his proposed demand could result in more by-elections that could impact his government's slim majority.

"I take it as a given that every Member of the House and the Senate as of today believes that they are eligible to sit in the House or the Senate," he said, after explaining that anyone who thought otherwise should resign.


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