Nov 9, 2017

Now showing: Citizenship Crisis. Coming soon in 2018: Liberal Leadership Troubles.

The possible consequences of the citizenship debacle now encompass an early election and, therefore, leadership options for the government. Malcolm Turnbull must be tearing his hair out.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

It starts with a media report, then proceeds in ritualistic fashion: initially there are denials; the MP and party officials believe they have no issue around their eligibility. That belief, it turns out, isn't backed by evidence; the "checking" that they've done proves cursory or non-existent or an exercise in firing off emails to non-existent addresses. Embassies and High Commissions are contacted -- the UK High Commission in Canberra must now have a full-time case officer to handle citizenship requests -- and more often than not, the news from the diplomats is not good.

While the government and the opposition haggle over the details of a self-reporting scheme in the register of pecuniary interests, the drip of cases continues. John Alexander awaits the call from the Brits; Jacqui Lambie could be a Scot; Jason Falinski might be a Pole; Pauline Hanson is mentioned in dispatches -- hilarious if true, a second senator from a passionately anti-immigration party turfed out for being the descendant of migrants -- Labor MPs who renounced their citizenship before election might be caught out anyway. The ravenous section 44 demands ever more political blood, to be fed by the High Court, through the portals of which lies a corner of some foreign field that is forever England/New Zealand/Canada, wherein a growing number of political careers lie interred.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

17 thoughts on “Now showing: Citizenship Crisis. Coming soon in 2018: Liberal Leadership Troubles.

  1. graybul

    Deja vu! Emerging possibility of an early election. All about politicians; scrabbling for an advantage and ‘to hell’ with any concern for nation or the peoples.

    Equity, fairness, accountability, transparency. No more than a desperate illusion.

  2. brian crooks

    old trumble keeps hitting himself on the head with his right wing hammer then complaining about his headache, this bloke is either totally stupid or just that spineless that he does`nt want to see what he`s doing to the nation, old silly billy McMahon was a macho hero compared to this jelly backed lump of fairy floss, its a marvel how he manages to stay upright without the semblance of a spine, still most of his party and their supporters manage without a brain.

  3. Pollietragic

    Apparently, the LNP were sick of their idea of “reformist” judges on the High Court, and have appointed successive judges seen to be “black letter law’ judges. Now these judges have stuck to black letter law, and politically cruelled the LNP. Even The Abbott couldn’t have inflicted this level of damage.
    For all those who recall the daily speculative media fever of Rudd mounting a challenge against Gillard, and the Dr No Reject Everything approach of the LNP in opposition, schaudenfraude has never been so sweet.
    Oh how the worm has turned. Even Morrison has been heard to mention – in passing – that there is such a thing as good debt. Only after years of his accusations that it was all due to ALP spending, and after economists have – largely politely – mentioned that the deficit has doubled during the LNP term. Wasn’t that their own measure of performance?

  4. David Lockett

    Call an election!
    Why would I or any other immigrant with dual citizenship want to vote in an election in which we as second-class Australian citizens are not permitted to stand.
    I say we immigrants should boycott any election until this complete debacle is sorted and we have equal rights with other Australians.

    1. graybul

      David, you are permitted to stand. Just conform with Constitutional requirement (and be honest about it) and ensure your paperwork is in order. No worries mate. Of course you will have to accept you will be in the minority and have to accept compliance thereafter will require abandonment of values like honesty, etc

    2. Chris Bell

      There’s a lot of deliberate confusion on this. Dual citizens are allowed in parliament once they have made all reasonable efforts to relinquish other than Australian citizenship.
      But in the normal course of events, don’t dual citizens have more rights than single Aust citizens, ie to visit there other home and live there?

      1. zut alors

        If I’m not mistaken they also have the advantage of opting for the shortest queue at Customs & Immigration checkpoints.

  5. Nudiefish

    I have a cunning plan, thinks MT….

    First you force Bill Shorten in a wasteful and humiliating TURC investigation, making him sit and undergo three days of torrid cross-examination, consisting of about 900 questions, and every one of them questioning his integrity and fitness for public office – and then find bugger all to show for it. After that fails, you again drum up the coppers and raid union offices in order to smear Shorten once more over a 11 year-old donation that had already been declared (after first sicing the media on the aforementioned raid by the responsible government minister).

    Now, you appeal to that same abused opposition leader for “bipartisan cooperation” on s44(i) just because your own party is making you walk the plank over a tub of excrement.

    Am I missing anything? That’s your winning plan, Malcolm?

    1. pritu

      Exactly! What a total waste of space.

  6. zut alors

    Remarkably, I agree with Cory Bernardi that Parliament should be prorogued until this mess is sorted – following an independent audit (call it whatever). I have nil confidence in MPs outing themselves re dual citizenship – in fact, does anybody in Oz accord them credibility? A big smell is emanating from Parliament House, it needs an efficient clean out.

    In the weeks prior to Christmas there are several controversial bills due to be introduced (not least of which is Same Sex Marriage) therefore we need to be secure in the legitimacy of the vote. The last thing we need is ‘illegals’ (thanks, John Howard!) setting our laws.

  7. Wallywonga

    Yes, and our unprincipled, gutless leader is obviously going to be tested again soon with the same sex marriage legislation (presuming the postal vote is yes).
    Abetz and the right have already started their posturing, so what might we expect from our “great orator” to come up with in the spirit of compromise? His history to date has been to always put self preservation first, so we will end up with something that legislates even greater social intolerance than already exists?

  8. MJM

    “Now showing: Citizenship Crisis. Coming soon in 2018: Liberal Leadership Troubles.” And in between we’ll have: Marriage Equality Legislation Battle brought to us by the same producers.

  9. klewso


  10. Luckyduck

    Why not shut down Parliament for six months. Atleast we can save some money that is being spent on by-elections. Anyway, there is not a lot of work being done as the MPs are busy checking if they are legitimate or not. We start all over again when all the citizenship issues are sorted out.

    1. lykurgus

      You mean prorogue it (a word that Turnbull has been misusing btw)? I don’t think they can. Parliamentary sessions sit basically at the Crowns* pleasure – meaning essentially that only the Governor General can end a session (similar to his power-to-dissolve).
      Can’t see a former Lt.Gen. shutting the government down just because a few of them can’t get their paperwork in order – he’d surely say, “it’s your f*ckup, you fix it”. And if it continues to make the governments life miserable, be it on their own heads.

      *(the irony of which is not lost on me)

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details