Politics

Malcolm Turnbull Is Very Mad At Australia Over The Citizenship Mess

The PM is calling it a "witch hunt".

Malcolm Turnbull has flown back into Australia — and into a huge political shitstorm over the continuing citizenship debacle — and he’s Very, Very Upset about it all.

The PM held a press conference in Perth this afternoon where he scolded journalists for engaging in a “witch hunt” as they look to uncover more possible dual citizens after six MPs were booted from parliament because they don’t meet the basic requirements of being an MP.

Visibly angry, Turnbull again rejected calls for an audit of every member of parliament, demanding that Australia returns to “the land of common sense”. At one point he even asked “what is an audit?”

The bizarre press conference came after questions were raised over cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg, whose mother fled Hungary during the Holocaust and made her way to Australia, where she gave birth to the future environment minister.

Frydenberg has called suggestions that he holds Hungarian citizenship “absurd”, but some experts aren’t so sure, so journalists are doing their jobs and asking questions. This, according to the PM, is a witch hunt.

The Prime Minister then invoked the holocaust to suggest it is wrong to ask questions about Frydenberg’s heritage.

“I wish that those who make these allegations about Josh Frydenberg could think a little deeper,” he said. “Has this witch hunt become so absurd that people are seriously claiming that Josh Frydenberg is the citizen of a country which has stripped his mother and her family of their citizenship and would have pushed them into the gas chambers had it not been that the war was ended before they had time to do so?”

People were pretty quick to point out that expecting our elected officials to comply with the constitution doesn’t quite qualify as a “witch hunt”.

And the thing about witch hunts is, witches don’t actually exist. This citizenship mess has already uncovered six politicians who should never have been elected in the first place. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that there may be a few more MPs who don’t realise they’re dual citizens or, like Stephen Parry, know they might have a problem and are just keeping it quiet for now.

Shortly after Turnbull’s press conference, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten released a statement calling for “universal disclosure” for all MPs.

“For too long, our parliament has been mired in the dual citizenship mess,” he said. “The government is distracted by chaos and stuck in crisis — and the country is poorer for it.

“It is time to bring this to a sensible and mature conclusion. We accept that more needs to be done to restore confidence in the system. Labor is prepared to support a process such as universal disclosure to the parliament to deal with this issue effectively.”

Some of Turnbull’s own MPs, including conservatives Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz, have called for a full audit of all MPs, but Turnbull is digging in his heels, saying there’s no need for an audit and that the High Court is the only place that can decide on a politician’s eligibility.