Showing posts with label Australian Constitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian Constitution. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The problem of dual citizenship for Australian federal politicians is not a new one so why has this current batch made such a hash of the solution?


Australian Electoral Commission nomination form advice re Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution

This is former Liberal MP Alex Somlyay - elected 1990 and retired 2013 - as reported in the Sunshine Coast Daily on 19 July 2017:

Alex Somlyay, who represented Fairfax for 23 years from 1990 to 2013, is the son of Hungarian refugees who arrived in Australia after World War Two as stateless persons.
Mr Somlyay says Ms Waters' predicament in an unintended consequence that needed to be fixed…..
Mr Somlyay is particularly attuned to Mr Waters' forced resignation because of events that played out which could have threatened his own parliamentary career.
His parents became Australian citizens and Mr Somlyay was born in Australia.
But the fall of the Iron Curtin saw Hungary again become an independent country which immediately gave citizenship to the diaspora that fled as refugees and their children.
"I was already in Parliament,” he said. "I went to see the Hungarian ambassador and wrote a letter relinquishing any Hungarian rights.”

With the holding of dual citizenship being a specific bar to nominating as a candidate at a federal general election or by-election the answer for such dual citizens has always been straightforward even in complex situations.

Before nominating check your citizenship status and if by virtue of having a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who was born overseas you find you either hold foreign citizenship by descent or may be entitled to such citizenship then take the appropriate steps to formally renounce this citizenship.

Even in the late 1800s Australia was a multicultural society with people holding foreign citizenship permanently migrating here from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

The framers of the Australian Constitution were well aware of this fact and set out one simple rule disqualifying any person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power from sitting as a representative of the people in the federal parliament. 

The only exception when the Consitution was enacted was for persons born in the United Kingdom (or in certain cases its colonies) as it was not then considered a foreign power.

The right to nominate as a candidate in an election is now reserved for persons of good character who hold only Australian citizenship - whether by birth, descent or naturalisation - and hold no office of profit under the Crown.

The High Court of Australia so ruled in Sykes v Cleary in 1992, in Free v Kelly & Australian Electoral Commission in 1996 and again in Re Canavan; Re Ludlam; Re Waters; Re Roberts [No 2]; Re Joyce; Re Nash;Re Xenophon in October 2017

Only an overweening sense of self-importance and an unswerving belief in their own entitlement can explain why in 2017 there are so many politicians with questions against their names when it comes to a right to be sitting in the Australian Parliament.

And only a steely determination not to be fully held to account sees the Turnbull Government suggesting that a declaration to the Australian Parliament by already elected politicians somehow trumps any false or misleading written declaration they may have made as part of their nomination as candidates.


RECOMMENDED READING
                
8 November 2017, YaThink? Let’s stop pretending. We want this Government to burn at the stake!

STATE OF PLAY

Growing list of federal parliamentarians found to be ineligle to stand:

1. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum – first elected 2007, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.7.2017, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17
2. Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Joy Waters – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 18.7.17, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

3. Liberal MP for New England Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

4. Liberal Senator for NSW Fiona Joy Nash – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

5. One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuen Roberts – first elected 2016, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

6. Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry – first elected 2004, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship on or about 2.11.17

7. Liberal MP for Bennelong John Gilbert Alexander – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament (refused to publicly confirm dual citizenship) on or about 11.11.2017

8. Jacqui Lambie Network Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie – first elected 2013, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.11.17

9. Liberal senator-elect Hollie Hughes found to be eligibility by the High Court on 15 November 2017 due to the fact that she holda an office of profit under the Crown

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The growing list of federal parliamentarians found to have been ineligible to stand due to breaches of Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution



1. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum – first elected 2007, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.7.2017, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

2. Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Joy Waters – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 18.7.17, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

3. Liberal MP for New England Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

4. Liberal Senator for NSW Fiona Joy Nash – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

5. One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuen Roberts – first elected 2016, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

6. Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry – first elected 2004, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship on or about 2.11.17

7. Liberal MP for Bennelong John Gilbert Alexander – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament (refused to publicly confirm dual citizenship) on or about 11.11.2017

* Liberal senator-elect Hollie Hughes – eligibility being assessed by High Court in November 2017 due to question concerning holding an office of profit under the Crown

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Australian Attorney-General, Liberal Senator for Queensland and faux Queen's Counsel fails to convince there is a need to change Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution


Commonwealth of Australia Coat of Arms 1912
Now that the High Court of Australia has removed the Leader and Deputy Leader of Coalition partner, the National Party of Australia, it seems the next move by the Liberal Party is to change the rules governing federal elections.

This was Australian Attorney-General, Liberal Senator for Queensland and faux Queen’s Counsel, George Brandis, on 29 October 2017 according to Sky News:

Mr Brandis said while the government accepted the High Court ruling, Section 44 in its current form on citizenship 'is not suitable for a multicultural democracy'.
'Australia is one of the most successful multicultural society in the world…..It is an unusual situation that there should be a provision of our constitution... where there are doubts about the capacity or eligibility of potential millions of Australians to stand for parliament.'

In 1891 the first published headcount of the Australian population occurred. There were 3.17 million people resident in the country and of these 31.99 per cent were born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia and New Zealand.

In 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution which includes Section 44 (disqualification from nominating as a candidate in a federal election/by-election) was adopted and, and the censuses of Australian states were undertaken that same year.

On 31 March 1901 the total combined population of all Australian states was recorded as 3.77 million people with 22.24 per cent of this population identified as being born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Other Countries and New Zealand.

So right at the beginning of Federation this nation could rightly be considered a “multicultural democracy”.

However, one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new federal parliament 1901 was the Immigration Restriction Act which was the basis of what became known as the “White Australia Policy”.

Ten years later in 1911 when another national census occurred 4.45 million people were recorded as resident within Australia. Despite immigration restrictions Australia was still maintaining a strong multicultural presence with 17.68 per cent of the population having been born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia and New Zealand.

In 1958 the "White Australia Policy" was finally dismantled for good and seventeen years after that the Racial Discrimination Act was pased.

At the 2016 national census there were 23.40 million people recorded as resident within Australia and 28.5 per cent of this population were born overseas in - you guessed it – Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia (now recorded as Oceania) and New Zealand.

It seems that  with a few hiccups along the way such as restricted immigration, two world wars and the Great Depression – cultural and ethnic diversity by way of immigration has always been a significant part of post-colonial Australian society.

If Senator Brandis wants to convince voters that the Constitution should be changed or additional legislation created, which would allow wannabe politicians free rein to decide to ignore holding dual citizenship and determine for themselves what they can declare or conceal from the electorate on their nomination forms, he will have to think of a better argument than the one he put forward to Sky News.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Another Liberal federal politician bites the dust - months after he knew he was in the wrong


By mid-July 2017 Green senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned because they discovered they held dual citizenship and were therefore elected unlawfully to the Australian Parliament. More politicians followed, admitted their standing was in doubt because of dual citizenship.

On 27 October 2017 the High Court of Australia upheld the wording and intent of Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution concerning the ineligibility of dual citizens to nominate for election to the federal parliament.

Former police officer and Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry knew he was in trouble from the beginning of this saga in July - after all he was aware his father William Parry migrated from the U.K. in 1951 and lived in Australia for the next sixty-four years until his death.

Yet Parry chose to wait until 31 October 2017 to own up to having sat in parliament unlawfully for the last twelve years and then resign.

ABC News, 1 November 2017:

Liberal senator Stephen Parry has confirmed he is a British citizen and will now resign from the Parliament.
Yesterday, Senator Parry revealed he had doubts about his citizenship status because his father was born in the UK, and emigrated to Australia in the 1950s.
He has now released a statement saying the British Home Office confirmed he is a citizen by virtue of his father's birthplace.
In a letter to his Senate colleagues, he wrote it was "with a heavy heart" he had to inform them he would be submitting his resignation as Senate President and as a Tasmanian senator to the Governor-General tomorrow.

Once again the Liberal Party is not covering itself in glory.

UPDATE

The Age, 2 November 2017:

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield knew for weeks that Stephen Parry could be a dual UK-Australian citizen, but said nothing after the then Senate president confessed to him.

Mr Parry also confided in an unnamed member of the outer ministry about his citizenship concerns. He revealed the concerns after former cabinet minister Fiona Nash referred herself to the High Court.

Fairfax Media has been told Mr Parry was advised not to go public ……

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns ends federal parliamentarians eligibility to stand hearings and considers its judgment


“The Court reserves its decisions in these matters. It is hardly necessary to say that the Court is aware of the need to give its answers to these references with or without reasons as soon as possible. As counsel and instructing solicitors would appreciate, it is not always possible for the Court to do so immediately. No doubt, they will explain this to their clients.”  [Chief Justice of Australia Susan Mary Kiefel AC, 12 October 2017]

On 10-12 October 2017 the full High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns heard arguments as to why five members and two former members of the Parliament of Australia should or shouldn’t be found to have been ineligible to stand for election prior to the 2016 general election and sit as an elected members thereafter.

While the country waits on the resolution of this matter, here are links to relevant documents and transcripts.

High Court of Australia Justices

KIEFEL CJ
BELL J
GAGELER J
KEANE J
NETTLE J
GORDON J
EDELMAN
J

Notices

High Court of Australia Transcripts






Self-styled “bounty hunter” issues penalty writs


David Barrow at http://andrewboltparty.com:

On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).

This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.

$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.

Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation…..

Friday, 25 August 2017

Fate of politicians referred to the High Court over the citizenship saga will not be known until at least mid-October.


It appears that on Day One before the High Court of Australia there is to be no united defence by those sitting politicians defending their election as members of parliament and stories appear to be changing.

ABC News, 24 August 2017:

The fate of politicians referred to the High Court over the citizenship saga will not be known until at least mid-October.

The court held its first hearings on the cases in Brisbane today, and Chief Justice Susan Kiefel has ordered the matter be heard in Canberra on October 10-12.

It is not clear yet how long it could take the court to decide on the case and announce its decision on the five cases currently before it — those of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, former Nationals Minister Matt Canavan, One Nation's Malcolm Roberts and former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam.

Solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue QC, acting for the Commonwealth, had urged the hearings be scheduled in mid-September to ease any concerns about the validity of decisions made by the 45th Parliament.

In another twist, Mr Joyce's political nemesis, Tony Windsor, has been given permission to join the citizenship challenge in the High Court.

Mr Windsor will argue Mr Joyce has breached the constitution, as he was a dual citizen of New Zealand.

Mr Windsor's lawyers, appearing by videolink from Melbourne, also argued for the right to cross-examine Mr Joyce if they needed it for their case.

Solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue QC, acting for the Commonwealth, urged the court to hear the matters by mid-September.

Chief Justice Kiefel said she understood the "unusual circumstances" of the challenges, and the "high level of urgency", given it would have an impact on the current make-up of the Parliament.

However, she raised concerns whether the matters could be dealt with that quickly, particularly when Deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon's cases were awaiting formal referral to the court.

Chief Justice Kiefel asked the solicitor-general whether there was a "real practical difficulty in terms of governance" if the court waited until October to hear the cases, to which Mr Donaghue replied there was not.

Lawyers for Senator Canavan also said the Commonwealth had "underestimated the complexity of their case", given the nature of his Italian citizenship.

They also suggested the highly publicised story he had presented about his mother signing him up for Italian citizenship was "irrelevant", rather arguing that there had been retrospective changes to Italian laws that had led to the strife.

Mr Donaghue said the cases of Senator Canavan, Mr Joyce and Ms Waters were different to those of Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam.

He argued Senator Canavan, Mr Joyce and Ms Waters had no knowledge they could be considered dual citizens under foreign law.

The solicitor-general but suggested Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam knew or should have known.

Lawyers for Senator Roberts criticised the initial timing of the full hearings, suggested by the Commonwealth.

They also took issue with the Attorney-General's offer to get the same British QC enlisted to give expert evidence on other citizenship cases to also draft a report about Senator Roberts' status.

The argument was that they should have the chance to brief the legal expert themselves, and have the opportunity to find their own experts if they did not agree. [my highlighting]

The Australian, 24 August 2017:

Barrister Robert Newlinds SC, for India-born Senator Roberts, said his client did not concede to being a citizen of any country other than Australia.

However, Mr Newlinds said Senator Roberts made contact with the British Home Office before the election, but received no response. He then sent another email before the election and “renounced” any foreign citizenship.

However, Senator Roberts did not receive any acknowledgement from the Home Office until after the election, the court has heard, when they sent him a renunciation form to fill out.

He later was told by the Home Office that his renunciation of British citizenship had been accepted – but Mr Newlinds said it was not clear whether that acceptance was in relation to the pre-election email or the post-election form……

Attorney-General George Brandis says the government is “grateful” the High Court agreed to hear all eligibility cases in the one hearing.

Senator Brandis said the hearing, to be held in the first fortnight of October, was scheduled as early as possible, despite the government asking for an earlier date on the 13th and 14th of September.

“We are very grateful that the High Court has listed the matter at the next practicable opportunity, we were pressing the court to hear it even earlier in September but it just wasn’t practicably possible particularly since the matter was going to be set down for three days,” Senator Brandis said.

“By the standard of listing matters in the High Court it is a very swift hearing, it gives all the parties a full opportunity to be ready, to present both written submissions and of course oral argument….. [my highlighting]

Matters for judgment by the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns:

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Members and Senators of the Australian Parliament: you had one job to do.......


COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 44

Disqualification

                   Any person who:

                      (i)  is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

                     (ii)  is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

                    (iii)  is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

                    (iv)  holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

                     (v)  has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

                   But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen's Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen's navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth. [AustLII, Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia, July 1900]

When nominating to stand as a candidate at a federal general election or a by-election the Australian Electoral Commission supplies all prospective candidates with a 51 page handbook, titled “Candidates Handbook: Federal elections By-elections”.

The intent of this handbook is to explain the steps you will need to take to qualify as a candidate and to comply with the law before, during and after an election.

On Page 8 of the May 2016 edition of the handbook candidates are supplied with a “Checklist”.

The third point on that 15 point checklist is:

I have confirmed that I am qualified to nominate.

Pages 13 to 14 clearly set out “Disqualification under the Constitution” and states:

You are required to sign a declaration on the nomination form that you are qualified under the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament. If you have any doubts as to your qualifications under the Constitution, the AEC recommends you seek your own legal advice. The AEC does not provide legal advice to prospective candidates.

On 14 August Member for New England, Leader of the National Party of Australia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, became the fifth sitting member to announce that he had only now discovered he holds dual citizenship.

According to Michelle Grattan writing in The Conversation on 15 August 2017 Joyce’s dual citizenship came to light after two lines of inquiry in New Zealand: questions from Fairfax Media, and a blogger, to the Department of Internal Affairs, and questions on notice from [NZ] Labour MP Chris Hipkins, following his conversation with Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s chief-of-staff Marcus Ganley, who’s a Kiwi.

Besides being exposed as the fifth dual citizen sitting in federal parliament, Joyce is now the third parliamentarian and second member of the Turnbull Government to refuse to resign even though he has been ineligible to stand as a candidate at every federal election held since his birth.

MPs and senators all had one straightforward task to complete prior to every federal election at which they stood as candidates and it is becoming increasingly obvious that very few of them actually did so.

They deserve no sympathy for this failure on their part.

UPDATE

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 2017:

A third Turnbull government minister has been caught up in the dual citizenship crisis that has rocked parliament, with Nationals senator Fiona Nash advising she is a British citizen by descent.

Just moments before parliament rose for a two-week break, the deputy Nationals leader told the Senate that she had received preliminary advice from the British Home Office on Monday that she had received dual-citizenship at birth through her Scottish-born father…..

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull convened an urgent cabinet meeting just after 6pm, where it was decided, based on advice from the Solicitor-General, that Senator Nash did not have to resign from either the Senate, or lose her cabinet spot as minister for rural health.

An hour later, the deputy Nationals leader told the Senate that she had become the fourth government member to fall foul of section 44's dual-citizenship rule and would refer herself to the High Court when parliament resumed next month.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August 2017:

Twenty-one people sit in the Nationals' Party room in Canberra.

Four of them – just shy of one fifth of the party room – now face questions about the constitutional validity of their election to the Parliament…..

Barnaby Joyce and Nash, National leader and deputy, Matt Canavan – a senate rising star – all face citizenship challenges, while king-making senator Barry O'Sullivan faces questions over family business dealings with the Commonwealth.


Friday, 28 July 2017

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts' British citizenship renunciation timeline not clear



On Sunday 8 May 2016the Prime Minister announced there would be a federal election on 2 July that year.

Writs were issued on 16 May and the rolls closed 23 May 2016.

At 12 noon on Thursday 9 June 2016 close of nominations for both House of Representatives and Senate candidates occurred.

Early voting commenced on 14 June and Election Day ended at 6pm on 2 July 2016.

According to One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuan Roberts as reported in The Age on 27 July 2017; he wrote to the British authorities on May 1 last year to ask them whether he was a British citizen, given he was born to a Welsh father in India.
He says he got no response so he wrote a further email on June 6 - three days before nominations closed - saying that if he was a citizen he fully renounced. He subsequently nominated as a candidate and won a Queensland Senate seat.

However, this tweet by Chief Political Correspondent, Sydney Morning Herald & The Age, James Massola, throws Malcolm Roberts assertion that he was not a British citizen at the time of nomination into doubt.


It appears that U.K. authorities and Mr. Roberts may possibly have different views of when he ceased to be a British citizen.

I strongly suspect that the High Court of Australia would be inclined to accept the word of the U.K. Government over that of Malcolm Roberts if this difference is confirmed.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Liberal Senator Matt Canavan reveals he has dual citizenship but refuses to resign from the Australian Parliament


COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 44, Disqualification, “Any person who: (i) is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; “

Liberal Senator for Queensland Matthew “Matt” Canavan has admitted to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he held dual citizenship when he was nominated for the Australian Senate in 2013.

His mother Maria and he, along his brother and sister, were registered as Italian citizens in January 2007. He would have been 26 years of age at the time.

Mr. Canavan knew that his mother was an Italian citizen but would have the world believe that he was unaware that he was so registered until 18 July 2017.

This is the official spin the Turnbull Government is offering the national electorate:

SENATOR THE HON GEORGE BRANDIS QC
ATTORNEY-GENERAL
LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE

SENATOR THE HON MATT CANAVAN

Transcript of Statements on Senator Canavan’s Citizenship, Brisbane

25 July 2017 

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Yesterday afternoon, Senator Canavan approached the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and me to tell us that he had received advice from the Italian Embassy that, according to their records, he was registered as an Italian citizen.   

Senator Canavan will explain circumstances in which he came to be registered as an Italian citizen. In brief, it occurred in 2006 when Senator Canavan’s mother, who is of Italian heritage, registered both herself and members of her family, including Senator Canavan, with the Italian consulate in Brisbane as an “Italian Resident abroad,” which is a form of citizenship. Senator Canavan, who was an adult at the time, did not authorise this to be done on his behalf. The first he became aware that she had done so was when she raised the matter with him on 18 July. He then sought urgent advice from the Italian embassy, which was only confirmed yesterday afternoon.

In the meanwhile, the Government has taken advice from the Solicitor-General and we are in the process of taking advice from experts in Italian citizenship law. It is the Government’s preliminary view that, because the registration was obtained without Senator Canavan’s knowledge or consent, that he is not in breach of s. 44 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, in view of the legal uncertainty concerning the matter, when the Senate convenes on Tuesday week, the Government will move to refer the matter for determination by the High Court.

MINISTER CANAVAN:  Well thank you, George. As George has outlined I have become aware that according to the Italian Government, I am a citizen of Italy. I was not born in Italy, I’ve never been to Italy and, to my knowledge, have never stepped foot in an Italian consulate or embassy. Until last week, I had no suspicion that I could possibly be an Italian citizen. In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen. In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well. I was 25 years old at the time. My mother was born in Australia but was able to obtain Italian citizenship through her parents, who were both born in Italy. While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen, I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen, nor had I requested to become an Italian citizen.

Following the reporting of Senator Ludlam and Senator Waters last week, my mother raised with me, the possibility that I was in fact an Italian citizen, on Tuesday evening. I have, since then, taken steps to check my citizenship status with the Italian authorities and that has confirmed that I was registered as an Italian citizen in January 2007. The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me. To my knowledge, until this week I have not received any correspondence from the Italian authorities about my citizenship status and they have not been able to provide any such records.

In the short time available, I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law. I am seeking to obtain that advice presently. On the basis of the advice the Government has obtained, and that George outlined, it is not my intention to resign from the Senate. However given the uncertainty around this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved and resign as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. I have informed the Prime Minister of that course of action. Thank you.

The bottom line for Mr. Canavan is that by 2013 when he nominated for the Australian Senate he had known his mother was an Italian citizen for at least five years and he did not take reasonable steps to discover if her citizenship by descent had any impact on his own citizenship status.

Matt Canavan should do the honourable thing and resign from parliament immediately as other members of parliament have done before him.

UPDATE

The Courier Mail, 26 July 2017:

It also emerged today that Senator Canavan discussed Italian citizenship with his mother almost a decade ago.

It has also been alleged that the Italian Government has sent him voting forms for the last ten years.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Senators falling like skittles in Canberra


On 1 November 2016  it was the announcement that it was the intention of the Turnbull Government and  Australian Parliament to challenge the validity of the election of Family First Senator for South Australia Bob Day in the High Court on the basis of a potential non-direct pecuniary interest through Fullarton Investments Pty Ltd.

One day later and a similar announcement is made concerning One Nation Senator for West Australia Rod Cullerton in relation to a criminal conviction for larceny prior to the 2016 federal election.
UNCLASSIFIED
SENATOR THE HON GEORGE BRANDIS QC
ATTORNEY-GENERAL
LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE

MEDIA RELEASE­

Senator Rod Culleton
Last Saturday, I wrote to the President of the Senate, the Hon Stephen Parry, to draw to his attention an Opinion which I had received from the Solicitor-General concerning the election of Senator Rod Culleton as a Senator for Western Australia.  I received the Opinion late on Friday, 28 October 2016.  I also provided a copy of the Opinion to Senator Culleton.

The opinion was sought by me on 13 October 2016 in view of issues raised in proceedings commenced in the High Court against Senator Culleton by Mr Bruce Bell. 

It appears that the proceedings brought by Mr Bell are based on an allegation that, at the time of the last election, Senator Culleton had been convicted of an offence punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for one year or longer, and was therefore “incapable of being chosen” as a Senator under section 44(ii) of the Constitution.

The President of the Senate has written to me today to advise that he proposes to bring the matter to the attention of the Senate when it sits on 7 November 2016.  At that time, the Government will initiate a referral of the matter to the High Court pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

2 November 2016

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Please tell me how Family First Senator Bob Day has the gall to remain in the Australian Senate after announcing his resignation



s44. Any person who:
(i)is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or
(ii) is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or
(iii) is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or
(iv) has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;
shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

s45. If a senator or member of the House of Representatives:
1. becomes subject to any of the disabilities mentioned in the last preceding section; or
2. takes the benefit, whether by assignment, composition, or otherwise, of any law relating to bankrupt or insolvent debtors; or
3. directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State;
his place shall thereupon become vacant.

Make no mistake, the following represents the insolvent liquidation of companies owned by Family First Senator Bob Day and family (with Bob Day as sole director) and foreshadows personal insolvency.  There are 207 houses still under construction and building work halted, an unspecified number of employees having no guarantee of full payment of wages/superannuation/holiday pay owed and, an unknown number of business creditors who will presumably meet with the liquidator in November 2016.

The Australian, 18 October 2016:

Senator Day said Home Australia and its subsidiaries in South Australia. Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales would be liquidated by McGrathNicol.

“As I have always agreed to sign personal guarantees to creditors, this closure also has serious implications for me and my family,” he said.

“Creditor liabilities greatly exceed our assets so we will also lose our family home.
“As for my role as a Senator, I will of course resign.”

Smart Company, 18 October 2016:

Matthew Caddy and Barry Kogan of McGrathNicol have been appointed as liquidators of parent company Home Australia Pty Ltd, as well as seven wholly owned subsidiaries: Homestead Homes Pty Ltd, Collier Homes Pty Ltd, Newstart Homes (SE QLD) Pty Ltd, Ashford Homes Pty Ltd, Huxley Homes Pty Ltd, Nationwide Australian Investments Pty Ltd, and Smart Road Property Rentals Pty Ltd.

Construction on all homes being built by Home Australia has ceased and the liquidators said in a statement on Monday their “immediate objective is to work constructively with relevant insurers and customers in an effort to facilitate the orderly recommencement of construction of uncompleted homes by alternative builders”.

McGrathNicol is also accepting expressions of interest from potential buyers for the entire Home Australia business or individual parts.

The Guardian, 27 October 2016:

Family First senator Bob Day’s collapsed house building empire owes a total of $37.8m, according to their liquidator.

A spokesman for liquidator McGrath Nichol told Guardian Australia on Thursday that the seven companies owe unsecured creditors a total of $19.6m.

The figure dwarfs initial estimates that unsecured creditors were owed $12.5m.

The companies owe a total of $18.2m in secured debt, of which National Australia Bank is owed $17.5m. Those debts will take priority over the unsecured creditors.


Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) 26 October 2016:
Name:
HUXLEY HOMES PTY LTD
ACN:
106 443 216
ABN:
Registration date:
24/09/2003
Next review date:
24/09/2017
Status:
External Administration
Type:
Australian Proprietary Company, Limited By Shares
Locality of registered office:
TEA TREE GULLY SA 5091
  Regulator:
Australian Securities & Investments Commission
17/10/2016
7E8438321
Notification of Appointment of Liquidator (Creditors' (505J)
Voluntary Winding Up) 




Unfortunately for parliamentary democracy, Senator Day appears to have now rethought his statement of 17 October that he was resigning from the Senate and now intends to stay indefinitely as his announcement was apparently only one of future intent.

Wellington Times, 24 October 2016:

……Senator Day issued a short statement.
"I refer Fairfax to my statement last Monday expressing an intention to resign as a result of my family company's problems," he said.
One Adelaide-based expert in receivership and company administration said it was unlikely Senator Day's companies could be wound up quickly and suggested a possible bankruptcy was at least six months away.
Parliament will return on November 7 for three final sitting weeks of the year, with the Senate expected to vote on the two bills used for trigger the July 2 double dissolution election.
Senator Day's vote will be crucial as the government seeks nine out of 11 crossbenchers to support the legislation. If he is not present for the votes, he would seek a pair with Labor.

UPDATE

ABC News, 1 November 2016, 12:37pm:

Family First senator Bob Day has tendered his resignation, effective immediately.

Pressure had been mounting on the now-former senator to resign as his construction company crumbled.