This sealed section letter about politicians with two passports has sparked an interesting debate.

Dear Crikey,

With all the hubbub surrounding the Democrats and Murray at the moment, I am confused by the stance they are adopting on democratic principles.

For instance, only a couple of years ago, there was uproar over elected members holding dual citizenships.

This led to One Nation senator Heather Hill not being able to assume her seat because she was a holder of a British Passport.

At that time, and I have a list to prove it, there were and probably still are members of the house and senate who also hold dual citizenships, but for some obscure reasons, were not asked to vacate their seats.

As at 14th September 1999, the following notable people were among a long list I have in my possession, of elected members who held foreign citizenships..

Dr Andrew Theophanous—Cyprus (in jail)

Sen Jim McKiernan—-Rep.of Ireland.

Hon Con Sciacca—Italy.

Sen Chris Ellison—Zimbabwe

Hon Tony Abbott—United Kingdom.

Sen Stephen Conroy—United Kingdom.

Sen Christopher Evans—United Kingdom.

Sen Brenda Gibbs—United Kingdom.

Sen Andrew Murray—United Kingdom.

There are many others, but I simply wonder why Andrew Murray is still allowed in the parliament/senate at all, let alone his stated ambition of being a democrat in exile, if we are to accept that foreigners are barred.

After seeing his nationality, and what was instigated by Abbott (also British) in denying Heather Hill her seat, one has to wonder whether Murray has been primed to do his present mischief by off-shore political masters.

Double standards, if ever there were!

CRIKEY: The 7.30 Report story on the night Heather Hill ‘s political career was ended by the High Court can be viewed here. There could be something in this.

Feedback to original sealed section item

A subscriber writes:

I don’t know if the list of people you have with foreign citizenships includes whether or not they have renounced that foreign citizenship. If not, then I think (think being the operative word) ordinary citizens can fill out a petition challenging the election of the member. That’s what Henry Sue (Nai Leung) did, which is why the case was Sue v Hill (a very neat way to get your name published). Justice Gaudron wrote that:

“Once it is accepted that a person must take some step to renounce his or her foreign citizenship, it follows, as was held in Sykes v Cleary (No 2)[221], that it is necessary that he or she take reasonable steps to do so. Mrs Hill took no such steps prior to her nomination for election to the Senate.” paragraph 176

Therefore, she was a subject or citizen of a foreign power within the meaning of s 44(i) of the Constitution and not duly elected.

I’m wondering if Crikey could file a petition against those who haven’t renounced – that’d be a bit of free publicity. If they haven’t renounced, it’s a bit weird that no one has filed a petition. I think of the treatment of One Nation the way the US govt used to put the mafia away through charges of tax evasion. Didn’t get them for the crimes, but got them for their shoddy paperwork.

Only Heather Hill mattered

A subscriber writes:

Stephen

re the two passports issue. Notwithstanding who has pasports and who hasn’t, the fact of the matter is that it was only Heather Hill’s election result that was challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns.

This limited the powers of the Tribunal to, at most, the 1998 election of Senators from Queensland. Since all other people listed were not involved in that election, they were not caught in the dispute and were thus still elected to the Parliament.

For the Court to have declared any other election result null and void because of their findings would probably be seen as being a breach of the separation of powers… and slightly overstepping the mark in a democracy. Similarly, any changes which may have been made to the Electoral Act to codify this decision – or at least to clarify what the phrase in the Constitution means – would not have been made retrospectively, so people can’t find themselves ‘unelected’ by Act of Parliament.

So those holders of two passports who were not challenged had the legal right to hold their seats.

CRIKEY: So if anyone wants to challenge some of these people with two passports they need to be a defeated candidate at the next election.

Peter Fray

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