Disqualification threats hang over Australian MPs
22 July 2017
Extraordinary events over the past week point to a concerted campaign to use the reactionary provisions in the Australian Constitution to remove “third party” members of the Senate elected at last July’s double dissolution election.
A witch hunt has been launched, led by the Murdoch media, to identify every member of parliament who was born overseas or might have acquired foreign citizenship from their parents, and demand they provide proof of having renounced their dual citizenship.
Two Greens senators—party co-leaders Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters—abruptly quit their seats, without a fight, after being accused of breaching section 44 of the Constitution by failing to realise that they held dual citizenships.
Both were born overseas—Ludlam in New Zealand and Waters in Canada—but arrived in Australia as infants. It appears that they automatically became, and remained, citizens of those countries.
The two Greens became the third and fourth senators disqualified this year under various provisions in section 44—an unprecedented figure.
Now, question marks have been raised about Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, who has an Italian family background, and two other Greens senators—Nick McKimm, who was born in Britain, and Peter Whish-Wilson, born in Singapore.
Also in the firing line is Malcolm Roberts, elected to the Senate for Pauline Hanson’s anti-immigrant One Nation, because he was born in India.
Earlier in the year, the Labor Party applied to the High Court, the country’s supreme court, to disqualify independent Senator Lucy Gichuhi because of her previous Kenyan citizenship, but the court rejected the application for lack of evidence.