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

Monday, 2 April 2018

How easily this politician forgets the terms and conditions of being elected to the Australian Senate


“The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate”  [Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, compilation in effect as of 4 September 2013]

“Under the Constitution, each state of the Australian federation, regardless of its population, has an equal number of senators. The Senate currently consists of 76 senators. Twelve senators represent each of the six states elected for a period of six years.”  [Parliament of Australia, About the Senate]

This is Liberal Senator for Queensland Matt 'my mother made me do it' Canavan explaining a change in how he views his responsibility to the people of Queensland.

NEW TO THE PARLIAMENT IN 2014

“Mr President I am honoured to give my first speech in the Senate and I am honoured to have been elected by the Queensland people to represent them. I will do my best to serve their collective interests with courage, integrity and humility.” [Nationals Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan, Maiden Speech to the Senate, 16 Jul 2014]

LESS THAN FOUR YEARS LATER IN 2018

"I stand on a platform that is unashamedly pro-coal, I got elected on that basis. I got elected on the basis I will support the resources sector." [Nationals Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan, ABC TV Special address to the National and Rural Press Clubs, 28 March 2018]

[my yellow highlighting]

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

26th Newspoll loss in a row for Turnbull Government


In the same week the 2018 Australian Parliament commenced business for the year Malcolm Bligh Turnbull was just four Newspolls short of the benchmark he created when he successfully challenged Tony Abbott in September 2015 and became Australia’s 29th Prime Minister.

As of 4 February 2018 Newspoll shows the Coalition is just one point ahead of Labor on the primary vote and on a Two Party Preferred basis it is four points behind.

While net satisfaction with leaders’ performance sees Turnbull a slender four points ahead at minus 13.

Should we expect a Libspill sometime in April-May 2018 if the polls continue this trend? Or are the Liberal and Nationals powerbrokers going to grit their teeth and soldier on until the forthcoming federal election?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Turnbull was out and about in an orgy of self-praise in the days following Australian Parliament vote for same-sex marriage


“I've personally delivered the marriage bill to the Governor-General. Same sex marriage will be the law of the land at midnight!” [Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Twitter, 8 December 2017]

Coffs Coast Advocate, 8 December 2017:

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hailed the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra as a "huge success" in a "day of joy".

"What a day. What a day. What a day in history. What a day for love," the Prime Minister said on The Project.

"What a day to put our arms around same-sex couples and say we love you, we respect you, you have all the rights that everyone else has had for so long - now we're all at one."

While he acknowledged the postal survey had a "few critics", Turnbull said it allowed the country to have their say and he was "so proud" to be the country's leader "when we have made this big decision."

When shown comments from same-sex marriage advocate Magda Szubanski accusing him of "gloating and taking credit" for what has been a painful and divisive few months for many, the PM was unrepentant.

"We have delivered this. But we've delivered this in a way that is respected all Australians and it's now the law of the land," he said.

Speaking to Leigh Sales on 7.30, Mr Turnbull expressed similar sentiments.

"I am so proud this has occurred while I'm prime minister, while the Liberal and National parties are in government," he said.

"Surely you would also like to acknowledge that the Labor Party has played a role in getting this legislation through," Ms Sales shot back.

"Well, look Leigh, this is not the time to do the usual tit-for-tat. I mean, Labor certainly supported it, and that's good. They had six years in office and did nothing about it. That's not so good.
And of course they did everything they could to stop every Australian from having their say."

That is not exactly how I remember it, Mr. Turnbull……….

On 3 December 2011, Australian Labor Party’s policy platform was amended to include support for same-sex marriage, with Labor parliamentarians allowed a conscience vote on the issue.

Then on 19 September 2012  Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, A Bill for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality for same-sex couples, and for related purposes, introduced by Labor MP for Throsby Stephen Jones on 13 February 2012, voted down in Division on 19 September, Aye votes included – Shorten, WR, Noe votes included - Turnbull, MB.

It took until 8 August 2016 before the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey was announced and, as a voluntary, national non-binding postal survey on the question of same-sex marriage it did not require a vote in the Australian Parliament in order for this survey to be conducted.

By 10 August 2017 Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten had delivered the Matter of Public Importance – Marriage speech in the House of Representatives supporting same-sex marriage survey:

But we cannot let illegitimate tactics deter us; we cannot sit on the sidelines. I can understand LGBTI Australians' sense of frustration and of betrayal by the parliament. But the most powerful act of resistance is to vote yes for equality. Maintain your hope, maintain your enthusiasm and vote yes. And make sure your friends, relatives, colleague, classmates and teammates vote yes too. Get your name on the electoral roll today; make your voice heard. Voting yes is not about endorsing this illegitimate process, it's about refusing to walk past our fellow Australians when they need us. This is my message for business leaders, sporting clubs, the union movement and community groups: it's time to get involved; it's time to organise and fight for equality……I will be voting yes. I will be campaigning for a yes vote. I will do my bit, and I encourage people to join the movement for marriage equality, because no true leader is ever too busy to fight for the fair go in this country.  

Australian Marriage Law Survey forms began to be posted out to eligible voters on 12 September 2017.

However, the only person stopping the tabling of a new bill amending the C'wealth Marriage Act 1961 between August 2015 and September 2017 was you, Prime Minister Turnbull and your personal fear of the far-right in your own government.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Turnbull Government lost its majority in the House of Representatives so canceled the lower house convening for next 13 days


This was the timetable for a functioning democratic Australian Parliament in November 2017:

30 October to 12 November – Non sitting days
13 to 16 November – Senate Chamber sits
17 to 26 November – Non sitting days
27 to 30 November – Both Chambers sit, Senate 2/3 Cut Off Thursday, 30 November
1 to 3 December – Non sitting days
4 to 7 December – Both Chambers sit [my yellow highlighting]

This is how a Liberal-Nationals federal government makes a mockery of a democratic federal parliament - because two of its MPs in the House of Representatives having been found to be ineligible to sit are no longer members of the 45th Parliament and therefore the Turnbull Government has lost its majority in the lower house:

The parliament was scheduled for two more weeks of joint sittings of the Senate and the House of Representatives, from November 27 to December 7.

But the amended schedule will see only the Senate return next week as planned. The House of Representatives will come back a week later, from December 4, and then sit a second week, from December 11, if required…..

Manager of government business Christopher Pyne said the cancellation is to ensure the passage of marriage equality and deal with the citizenship crisis before the end of the year — but Labor has accused the government of trying to dodge a commission of inquiry into the banks while it is down two MPs. [BuzzFeed News, 20 November 2017]

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Quotes of the Week


“Not sure if this has been posted but Jesus, this is wrong on levels yet to be described by science.”  [Jeremy Parkinson writing in Facebook on 9 November 2017 with regard to a US newspaper opinion piece describing New Zealand as being in the grip of the far right]


“The number of MPs and senators suspected of failing to obey the Constitution’s requirements on dual citizenship is now 28 to 30 by some counts, and only the High Court can rule on their status.”
 [journalist Malcolm Farr in news.com.au, 10 November 2017]


"What is #absurd is people who under our constitution are illegitimately elected to parliament think that the problem is with the constitution"  [mark‏ @Golfologest on Twitter, 11 November 2017]

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

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 ……

Friday, 27 October 2017

Australian High Court hands down judgment at 2:15pm today concerning eligibility to sit of five current and two former federal parliamentarians


High Court of Australia, email notification of judgment, 24 October 2017:

Friday 27 October 2017 at 2.15pm

1. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator the Hon. Matthew Canavan (C11/2017)

2. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Mr Scott Ludlam (C12/2017)

3. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Ms Larissa Waters (C13/2017)

4. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator Malcolm Roberts (C14/2017)

5. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP (C15/2017)

6. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash (C17/2017)

7. In the matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to section 376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator Nick Xenophon (C18/2017)

Copies of the judgment summaries will be accessible on the High Court website following the delivery of judgment.


Copies of the full judgment will be accessible on http://eresources.hcourt.gov.au/browse once uploaded.

Judgment delivered Friday, 27 October 2017:

Monday, 23 October 2017

Australian politics, law, justice and eligibility to sit as a federal parliamentarian


Excerpt from Ingrid Matthews’ article in Independent Australia, Hurrah! It's Section Forty-Forganza Week!, 12 October 2017:

REPORTING POLITICS, LAW AND JUSTICE
There are two other general points to make about the media framing of this case. 
The first is the oft-foreshadowed possibility that those MPs who have not done so may be "forced to resign". This is supremely irritating, because no force is involved (unlike, say, how police handled a child here). Any resignation would be a function of the MP failing to comply with our Constitution and of the High Court doing its job.
The absence of force is important, because the biggest claim that common law liberal democracies like Australia make for our system is this: legal and political conflicts are settled in a "civilised" manner. With words, not fists. With elections, not coups. Using evidence and argument, not violence and vigilantism.
The rituals of legal process are imbued with this pretension to courteous resolution. But that is not how the law looks to Black people in prison cells and their families. Or to welfare recipients sent AFP-branded debt notices by Centrelink. We pay Barnaby Joyce over $1 million per three-year term, and thousands more in expenses, while aggressively pursuing the poorest people in society for petty or non-existent offences and debts.
This is not justice.
Similarly, the notion that the "High Court could bring down the Government" is erroneous. If Joyce is disqualified, it would be a product of Joyce’s oversight and not because the High Court exercised some previously unrealised prerogative power in a curial coup. Plus, there are crossbenchers in the Lower House. The member for Indi will support the Government on confidence and supply. Thus a shift from a majority to a minority government does not "bring down a government". Such a narrative is misleading and frankly embarrassing, given we had a minority government a mere four years ago.
In my view, if Joyce could discover and renounce New Zealand citizenship in 2017, he could have done so in 2004 when he nominated for the Senate, or in 2013 for the seat of New England (Wiki history here). This position is based in law and morality. To me it is simply wrong of Joyce to not ensure his eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament when he receives such enormous largesse from the Australian public to do so. I say largesse because I can not see any value-add to the national interest, any return on our investment, in Joyce and his travels.
So yes, the politics of this case are fascinating, but not necessarily in the ways that are offered up by political reporters. Constitutional law is a serious business, and the law is not a game.
Ingrid Matthews is a sessional academic who teaches law and human rights. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter at @iMusing or via her blog oecomuse.

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, 1 September 2017

A possible explanation as to why in 2017 Liberal and Nationals politicians in Australia still hold the poor in such contempt?


In the 45th Australian Parliament 86.9 per cent of Liberal MPs and senators and 59.1 per cent of Nationals/CNP MPS and senators have formal higher education/professional qualifications.  

A total of 175 of these 196 qualified Coalition parliamentarians graduated from university, with the majority of qualifications being in law, commerce, economics and finance. [See 45th Parliamentary Handbook of The Commonwealth of Australia]

As a group Coalition parliamentarians have a higher percentage of members with higher education qualifications compared with other parliamentary political parties.

By comparison, in the general Australian population 48.9 per cent of 35-44 year-olds, 38.2 per cent of 45-54 year-olds, 33.9 per cent of 55-64 year-olds had tertiary qualifications in 2015 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data.

Both Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators also feature prominently in a list of parliamentarians with significant investment property portfolios.

However, belonging to the current affluent political class doesn’t completely explain the level of arrogant entitlement our Coalition politicians display on the floor of federal parliament and elsewhere.

Unless for many in this affluent group a sense of privilege began generations before…….

In Australia a wide collection of rarer surnames, predominately of British/Irish origin, were used by Gregory Clark (University of California), Andrew Leigh (Parliament of Australia) and Mike Pottenger (Melbourne University) to study social mobility between 1870 and 2017.


In this paper we derive equivalent surname status correlations for Australia 1870-2017. These show that despite the fact that Australia was an immigrant society incorporating migrants from a wide variety of backgrounds, and without some of the entrenched social institutions and rigidities of England, underlying social mobility rates all the way from 1870 to 2017 were just as slow as in England. Also there is no sign of any increase in mobility rates in the most recent years……

In 1900-9 someone with the rare elite surname was 16.5 times as likely to get a degree from Melbourne or Sydney as someone with a common surname. Over the decades this overrepresentation declines, but more than 100 years later in 2010-17 the rare surnames are still 76% more represented among degree recipients than would be expected......
With this structure the social system behaves as though it has a longer memory of family status. The predicted status of children depends not just on the parents, but also on the grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives. In high status lineages, large short-term declines in status by a child tend to be corrected in the next generation, the grandchildren. For lower class families large upward movements in social status tend also to get corrected in the next generation.
Another feature that should be emphasized is that our data does suggest there will be complete social mobility in Australia, if we wait enough generations. The descendants of the Colonial elite are becoming more average with each passing generation, and will eventually be completely average in status. However, this process takes a very long time. The holders of rare elite surnames in table 2 had an average occupational status 1.54 standard deviations above the social mean in 1904. With an intergenerational correlation of 0.75 in occupational status their average status will lie within .1 standard deviations of the social mean by the generation of 2204. It takes about 10 generations, 300 years, for such an elite set of families to become effectively average.
It is not obvious how we should weight the two different elements of short run and long run mobility in terms of evaluating the degree of social mobility in Australian society. Indeed, policies that increase parent-child social mobility may be desirable even if we expect that there will be some reversion in the next generation. But it is clear that in terms of long-run social mobility, Australia has been just as immobile a society as its sclerotic parent England.
It appears that Australian society is as stratified as ever with dominant groups retaining high status through the generations and working class families remaining relatively fixed in lower status groups and, a genuinely egalitarian society in this country is not to be expected for another 300 years - if at all.

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.