Politics

Labor MP David Feeney Is Resigning From Parliament After “Losing” His Citizenship Papers

The Battle for Batman is on.

Remember the parliamentary citizenship clusterfuck of 2017? Well good news everyone, it’s evolved into the parliamentary citizenship clusterfuck of 2018!

Labor MP David Feeney, who has been embroiled in a citizenship controversy since last year, is this year’s first political scalp. Feeney is set to resign from politics, sparking a by-election in his marginal Melbourne seat of Batman.

Politics is back, baby!

Why Is David Feeney Resigning?

Feeney was referred to the High Court last year after embarrassingly telling parliament he couldn’t find any paperwork confirming he renounced his British citizenship. Under Section 44 of the Australian constitution dual citizens are ineligible to serve in federal parliament.

It’s not the first time Feeney’s bad memory has led to controversy. During the 2016 federal election he failed to declare a house worth more than $2 million, and couldn’t answer questions regarding whether it was negatively geared.

The High Court is yet to make a final ruling on Feeney’s case, but he’s been facing pressure from the government to resign because his situation looks pretty clear cut. Now it looks like he’s going to jump ship. It’s likely he’ll announce his resignation at a press conference later this afternoon, but Labor is already spinning up its campaign machine in order to try and maximise their chances of holding onto the seat.

Greens vs. Labor

At the last federal election Feeney held onto his seat with a bare majority of 1 percent, after the Greens achieved a 9.5 percent swing towards them. The Greens outpolled Feeney on primary votes, but Labor managed to hold on thanks to Liberal preferences.

The Liberal party is unlikely to field a candidate this time around, making the race even closer. The Greens have preselected Alex Bhathal, the same candidate as 2016, though in an example of extremely bad timing it appears some within the party thought today was a good time to try and attempt to force her out of the position.

Labor is set to preselect Ged Kearney, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, setting up what is likely to be a tight and bitterly fought contest.

Last year the Greens won the state seat of Northcote, which falls within the electorate of Batman, off Labor in another by-election.

Feature image via David Feeney / Facebook