Dual citizenship and foreign influence concerns don't mix

May 18, 2018

Senator Cory Bernardi has praised the common sense expressed in an Adelaide Advertiser newspaper opinion piece, addressing yesterday (Thursday) morning's multi-party report recommending that dual citizens be accommodated in parliament via a constitutional referendum.

The Advertiser national political reporter Sheradyn Holderhead writes today "at a time when politicians are at pains to warn us about the serious risks of foreign influence it’s hard to follow the logic that it is A-OK to have dual citizens sitting in the federal Parliament."

These are similar sentiments to those expressed by Australian Conservatives yesterday in immediately opposing the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters ('JSCEM') recommendations.

Holderhead tackled two of a number of arguments advanced by advocates for repealing - or changing - section 44 of the Constitution which has invalidated a number of Members of Parliament from the Liberal, National, Greens, Labor, One Nation and 'Nick Xenophon' parties.

Supporters of axing the requirement also like to point to the difficulties the section throws up, given that it relies on foreign laws which “can and do change ... overnight”.

But given the cultural backgrounds of current parliamentarians, this argument doesn’t hold much weight, considering the only people to fall foul of the rules held British, Canadian and New Zealand citizenships — which can all be renounced with little more trouble than filling out a form.

Another oft-cited argument is that as federal parliamentary terms are not fixed; elections can be called at any time and catch out people who can’t get their renunciation finalised in time.

Do the public really want to encourage people standing for Parliament on a whim? If you are hoping to run for a seat, you know an election will be called at some point, so get your affairs in order.

To read Sheradyn Holderhead's full opinion piece, click here.

Watch Senator Cory Bernardi's comments below, in August 2017, as the citizenship crisis deepened and he flagged there were many other MPs back then who were hiding from constitutional scrutiny:

To read our policies including defending our Constitution from change, click here.

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