Politics

Australia’s Got A Whole Bunch Of New Senators, But The Citizenship Crisis Is Still Rolling On

When will it end?

If you’re wondering when all the dual citizenship drama in Australian politics will end, look, same. The replacements for the dual citizen MPs already ousted by the High Court were confirmed today, but yet more questions are still being raised about the citizenship of other MPs almost daily.

Just two days ago, for example, Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie got sucked into the whole mess when we found out her father was born in Scotland. Just yesterday, the Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekha Sharkie let us know that Malcolm Turnbull had advised her that she may need to go to the High Court because she didn’t renounce her British citizenship in time. And today, we found out that the person replacing ineligible dual citizen MP Fiona Nash may herself be ineligible to sit in Parliament, for reasons unrelated to citizenship.

It’s a lot to stay up to speed on. Here is the latest:

Who’s Replacing The Dual Citizens We’ve Already Kicked Out?

Literally two weeks ago, the High Court ruled on the eligibility of the #Citizenship7 (lol, remember when there were only seven), finding that five of them were indeed ineligible to sit in Parliament. Of those five, one (Barnaby Joyce) was a member of the Lower House, meaning his replacement will be determined by a by-election next month. The other four were in the Senate, meaning that their replacements are determined by recounting the votes from the last election and then appointing the next person on the ballot for each party to the vacant seat.

That recount has just finished, which means the replacements are as follows: Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters will be replaced by Jordon Steele-John and Andrew Bartlett respectively, while One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts will be replaced by Fraser Anning, and National Fiona Nash will be replaced by Liberal Hollie Hughes.

There’s a problem with Hollie Hughes, though — the only problem in this whole mess that isn’t about citizenship. Between losing the election and now, she’s been working at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which is a government office, and in doing so potentially falls foul of a rule that bars public servants from running for election. She’s off to the High Court next Wednesday to find out whether she’s eligible — the same day the marriage equality postal survey result is announced, so it’s gonna be an absolute ripper.

The rest of the replacements will be sworn in on Monday when the Senate resumes sitting.

Wait, Who Else Might Be A Dual Citizen?

Uh… quite a few people, as it turns out. The ABC have a nice always-up-to-date interactive here where you can see people colour-coded by how fucked they are, but we’ll give you a rundown on the big ones.

To begin with, just a few days after we thought the High Court had settled this mess, Liberal senator and Senate President Stephen Parry discovered he was a British citizen and announced he would resign his seat in the Senate. This was extremely annoying given that had he could have just gone to the High Court with the original seven had he said something earlier, but then the floodgates opened and everyone forgot about Parry being annoying.

Since then, Liberal minister Josh Frydenberg was accused of being a dual Hungarian citizen (but is probably in the clear), Pauline Hanson was accused of being a dual British citizen (she thinks she’s in the clear, but she’s reportedly checking), Jacqui Lambie revealed her father was born in Scotland but reckons she’s fine (hmm), Rebekha Sharkie revealed that she didn’t quite renounce her dual citizenship in time and may have to be referred to the High Court, and John Alexander has pulled a Malcolm Roberts and claimed he “believes” his father renounced British citizenship in time, despite not having actually checked.

Given what happened to Malcolm Roberts, John Alexander may in fact be cooked — the short version is that he’s now checking to see whether his father renounced British citizenship within a critical two-year window. If he didn’t, he’s likely screwed, which would lead to a by-election in his electorate.

This is actually not even the complete list of those with questions remaining over their citizenship — again, here’s the ABC explainer if you want to peruse the full set. Basically, enough MPs are affected by this that something has to be done. So far, Malcolm Turnbull’s best option is a “not-an-audit”, which essentially asks us to trust MPs who couldn’t properly renounce their citizenship in the first place to fill out a form saying they’ve done so.

The latest we’ve heard is that Turnbull and Shorten are bickering about it. We’ll keep you posted.