Australia’s government could collapse… cue dominos (not the pizza)
For some time now you may have been hearing sound bites and seeing the occasional headline that refers to “Section 44”, dual-citizenship and certain Australian MPs or Senators.
What does it all mean? And why should you care?
Section 44 of the Australian Constitution refers to elected representatives’ need to renounce any foreign citizenship, or rights to foreign entitlements, before nominating for election to public office. You’d think that would be pretty easy to do, I mean, you think you’d know if you had duel citizenship. Got a UK passport? Stayed on after your gap year? Easy, right?
Well it turns out often it’s not so obvious. As a result of numerous of complicated historical immigration laws, a number of Australians are actually dual citizens of other countries whether they asked for it or not — usually by virtue of their parents’ or grandparents’ citizenship. If MPs and Senators are a reflection of the broader Australian populous, many of you are also Kiwi, British, Greek or possibly Italian dual citizens!
Who cares? Isn’t this great we can all go on long European holidays then get jobs for the winter!
Well, yes. But also, no. If you’re an elected representative of the people there’s a stipulation in the Constitution that disqualifies you from public office mainly due to the specter of foreign influence. You could be voting for the Brits! Or even worse, the Kiwis!
So now the High Court has ruled that at least 5 of currently sitting MPs and Senators were ineligible to sit in Parliament and they have all resigned their positions. These include key members of the government — the deputy PM, and the lead of the government’s major coalition partner, the National Party — and raise the possibility that without support from cross-bench independent MPs, there may not actually be a majority coalition with the ability to retain power. This would either result in a ‘hung parliament’ where numbers are tied, or possibly some other outcome including going back to the polls earlier than anticipated.
The issue that hasn’t been discussed in detail yet is what happens to all the leglistlative decision that were made by the illegally elected MPs and Senators, especially those in cabinet. Does there need to be some kind of review of any contentious decisions? What about those policies that didn’t have broad support and passed by a slim majority?
Watch this space… WOMP WOMP