Thu, Nov 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Australian nationality crisis sparks audit call

AP, SYDNEY

Australia’s dual citizenship parliamentary crisis yesterday sparked calls for a nationality audit of all federal lawmakers, as investigations continued into decisions made by ministers found to have been ineligible for their elected positions.

The Australian High Court on Friday disqualified five lawmakers because they were citizens of both Australia and another country, a breach of an obscure clause in the constitution that only came to light in July.

Two other parliamentarians had already resigned, while another, Senate President Stephen Parry, from the Liberal Party, on Tuesday said he was checking if he was also a dual national.

Yesterday, Liberal Member of Parliament Craig Kelly broke ranks with the government to support calls for the Australian Electoral Commission to audit the backgrounds of all federal lawmakers, as Deputy Prime Minster Julie Bishop said she could not rule out more casualties.

“I think the best way to bring this to a head, to draw a line in the sand, let’s have a full audit of everyone’s record, put this behind us and move on and then, going forward, everyone will be crystal clear what the rules are,” Kelly told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).

Richard Di Natale, leader of the minority opposition Greens party, supported the call, saying there was “a huge shadow over parliament” eroding people’s faith in democracy.

“It’s no longer a happily stable parliament — we’re entering constitutional crisis territory here,” he told ABC radio.

Concerns continue that more lawmakers would be exposed due to the multicultural makeup of Australia, where about half the population are immigrants or have an overseas-born parent.

Bishop said that while no other lawmakers had raised concerns with her, it would be left to political parties to “just deal with the situation as presented to us.”

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