Foreign-born politicians clarify electoral validity after Greens' citizenship bungle


Some federal politicans who were born overseas are moving to clarify their eligibility for office after the shock resignation of the Greens’ deputy leaders over their dual citizenship.

Several foreign-born federal politicians have come out to clarify the validity of their election after Larissa Waters became the second Greens Senator to resign over holding dual citizenship.

The Greens co-deputy leader resigned on Tuesday after realising she has dual Australian-Canadian citizenship.

She joins colleague Scott Ludlam who resigned just days earlier after revealing he holds New Zealand citizenship.

Constitutional rules forbid dual citizens from being elected to parliament.

There are at least 24 federal MPs and senators who were born overseas.

Following Senator Waters’ announcement, a string of them quickly moved to confirm they’re in the clear and their election was valid.

Belgian-born Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said he lost his Belgian citizenship as soon as he became an Australian citizen in 2000.

“Senator Cormann confirmed this fact again with Belgian authorities in Australia prior to nominating for pre-selection as a candidate for the Senate, to ensure he complied with the relevant requirements for election to the Senate under the Australian Constitution,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Labor says it’s confident none of its MPs and Senators are caught up in the bungle.

“We are confident that every member of the Labor caucus has been properly elected,” ALP Acting National Secretary Paul Erickson said.

“The Labor Party works closely with all our candidates to ensure that their nomination is sound and compliant with the constitution. 

“This is a critical part of our nomination processes.”

Iranian-born Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said he had gone through a “difficult, expensive, lengthy and precarious” process to ensure he’d met the eligibility rules standing for office.

That involved two teams of lawyers in both Australia and Iran and $25,000 in legal fees.

One Nation also confirmed none of its Senators were invalidly elected under Section 44 of the Constitution.

Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts, who was born in India, said he contacted authorities there in 2014 to check he was not an Indian citizen.

“I am a citizen only of Australia and therefore eligible to hold the position as Senator in the Australian parliament.”

Other Greens Senators also reaffirmed they were above-board, including Singapore-born Peter Whish-Wilson and UK-born Nick McKim.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge clarified he had renounced his UK citizenship before he contested his seat in 2010.

Last week, former prime minister Tony Abbott put allegations about his status to bed by tweeting a letter from British authorities confirming he had renounced his UK citizenship in 1993.



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