The global processes behind the parliamentary crisis in Australia


The global processes behind the parliamentary crisis in Australia

17 November 2017

Official politics in Australia is in turmoil. On October 27, the High Court decreed that five elected members of parliament, including the deputy prime minister, were ineligible to sit in parliament because they had dual citizenship in another country.

The court upheld the most literal interpretation of a clause in the country’s 1901 Constitution that proscribes anyone from standing for parliament who “is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power,” or is “entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.”

The unanimous ruling of the seven judges asserted that members of parliament could not have “foreign loyalties or obligations.” The court endorsed the position that politicians must have “single-minded loyalty” to Australia.

Since the High Court decision, three more parliamentarians have resigned because their parents were born in Britain and they were therefore eligible for citizenship in the “foreign power” that colonised the continent and whose monarch is also the Queen of Australia.

In an agreement struck between the Liberal-National Coalition government and the opposition Labor Party, every member of parliament must now provide a disclosure statement by December 1. All members must swear that they have renounced any entitlement to citizenship elsewhere, stemming not only from where they or their parents were born, but also through their grandparents and even through marriage.

As many as 30 of the 226 members of the two houses of parliament may be forced out as a result. Even before the likely exodus leading up to December 1, the Coalition parties have already lost the threadbare one-seat majority…

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