The Greens have blasted the “racist” ban on dual citizens sitting in parliament while United Australia has called for changes to prevent distant relatives disqualifying bids for political office.
The calls for reform come as Australian Electoral Commission eligibility forms suggest several Liberal Democrat candidates may have failed to renounce foreign citizenship in time to be eligible for the federal election.
Nel 2017 e 2018 alcuni 15 MPs and senators resigned or were ruled ineligible for the Australian parliament due to dual citizenship.
The rolling farce triggered numerous by-elections and an inquiry into whether the presence of ineligible candidates distorts results e the ban should be repealed because it limits multicultural participation in Australian democracy.
Former Liberal MP, now United Australia Party leader and member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, said the ban on dual citizens should stay to ensure MPs “have a single loyalty to Australia”.
"Tuttavia, the extreme interpretation that finds some Australians are excluded because of grandparents needs to be reviewed," Egli ha detto.
“We’ve had really good candidates we’ve had to exclude due to citizenship issues.”
In the AEC forms released on Tuesday the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Tasmanian seat of Clark, Ian Ramsden, disclosed that he was a citizen of the UK, but claimed to have renounced it on 15 aprile.
Documents attached to support the claim appear to show he paid the fee to renounce on that date, but confirmation of the application being processed before the deadline was not included.
The Liberal Democrat candidate in the Tasmanian electorate of Lyons, Rhys Griffiths, disclosed his father was born in Wales, but claimed his parents, grandparents and he held no foreign citizenships. An LDP spokesperson said he believed both candidates had renounced.
The Liberal Democrat’s lead Queensland Senate candidate, Campbell Newman, said “amendments” were needed to clarify the ban on dual citizens. “The AEC questionnaire that goes with section 44 [of the constitution] is incredibly confusing. It is quite ambiguous.”
He also criticised the ban on government employees running for office under section 44 as “probably at odds with community standards” and is “unfair”.
Greens deputy leader, Larissa Waters, said “the exclusion of dual citizens is discriminatory and perpetuates the lack of diversity in our parliament”.
“Around half of all Australians are either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. In a multicultural society, denying Australians from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to represent their community weakens our democracy.”
The Greens have proposed constitutional reform to allow public servants and dual citizens to sit in parliament.
Nel 2018 a bipartisan committee led by Liberal MP Linda Reynolds called for a referendum to reform section 44 but the option was rejected by the Turnbull government in favour of more transparent disclosures.
George Razay, an independent candidate in Bass in Tasmania, disclosed that he is still a citizen of Syria. Razay told the AEC that to renounce his citizenship he would be required to return to the country and complete mandatory military service. Under Syrian rules, he also should have applied for renunciation prior to becoming a British citizen in 1992. He has since renounced his British citizenship.
Greens candidate for Blaxland in Sydney’s west, Linda Eisler, disclosed she has a Hungarian father, but the Greens argue this only gives an entitlement to Hungarian citizenship which Eisler did not activate.
Eisler said she was not a Hungarian citizen and she found the prospect “ludicrous” because she had “never applied or investigated” the option and had only visited the country once in 66 anni.
“It feels racist [if I were ineligible] when my father volunteered in world war two and showed loyalty to Australia. Being Hungarian has not featured in my life.”
Hawa Arya, a Greens New South Wales Senate candidate in the unwinnable fifth spot, disclosed both parents had citizenship of Afghanistan, but claims she lost hers when she became Australian in 1991.
The Greens are relying on an interpretation of Afghan law that because dual citizenship is not allowed, Afghan citizenship is automatically lost once another is taken up.
The United Australia Party’s candidate for Aston, Rebekah Spelman, disclosed to the AEC that her father, born in Canada, “remains a Canadian citizen to this day”.
Spelman claimed she had never been a citizen of any country but Australia – despite the fact Canada grants citizenship by descent to children of one Canadian parent.
Spelman said her declaration was accurate because citizenship by descent was not “automatic” – but she had renounced Canadian citizenship anyway out of an abundance of caution.
“It was necessary to do it. Section 44 is just so broad – you have to do all this stuff.”
The One Nation candidate in the Queensland seat of Forde, Seschelle Matterson, disclosed that her mother had Mauritian citizenship, which she claimed was lost at age nine when her mother travelled to Australia. Matterson contended that she was not a dual citizen as a result.
One Nation’s campaign director said all its candidates passed a “rigorous screening process”, con 100 potential candidates not standing due to citizenship status.