Turnbull proposes all MPs make declarations on citizenship


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Turnbull government is trying to limit the damage from the citizenship crisis with a plan to have all MPs make declarations about their circumstances.

The motion, agreed to by cabinet on Monday, will be moved in the Senate next week and in the House of Representatives when it resumes late this month.

The move came as questions continued about the status of Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, whose mother was born in Budapest but arrived in Australia stateless, and assistant minister Alex Hawke, born of a Greek mother.

Fairfax Media late Monday reported that Liberal backbencher John Alexander, who holds the New South Wales seat of Bennelong, might be a dual British citizen by descent because his father was born in the UK. It quoted a spokesman saying that Alexander “believes” his father renounced his British citizenship before Alexander was born.

Last week Senate President Stephen Parry quit parliament when he found he was a dual British citizen by descent.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten – who proposed on Friday a universal disclosure by MPs which was dismissed by Turnbull – said he would meet with Turnbull on Wednesday to discuss the move. But Shorten said this was “a rather dramatic about-face” and questioned what was behind Turnbull’s change of heart.

Section 44 of the Constitution prohibits a dual citizen being eligible to sit in parliament.

Under the government’s plan, MPs will have to state within 21 days of the resolutions being passed in their respective houses:

  • that when they nominated they were not, to the best of their “knowledge and belief”, a citizen of any other country, and that they are not currently a dual citizen;

  • the place and date of their birth, and their citizenship at that time;

  • the places and dates of their parents’ births; and

  • whether the MP has ever been a citizen of another country, and if so, the details and evidence of the time and manner of the renunciation of that citizenship or how otherwise it ended.

Turnbull said the move was about transparency, confidence and standing up for the Constitution.

He stressed this would not be an “audit” – for which there have been widespread calls – because an audit would involve bringing in an outsider.

“The obligation to comply with the Constitution, in terms of being qualified to sit in the House or the Senate, is on the shoulders of each and every member and senator,” he told a news conference after the cabinet discussion. “That’s why this will be their declarations and their disclosures.”

The disclosure would be similar to those made by MPs about their pecuniary interests and they would be provided to the registrar of members’ interests. If anyone made a false statement they would be in contempt of parliament, with parliament able to impose penalties – although in practice penalties are not imposed for inaccuracies in statements of pecuniary interests.

Turnbull stressed that it is only the High Court that can adjudicate on citizenship status. If the declaration process threw up instances of dual citizenship, the House of Representatives or the Senate could refer the cases to the court.

“Members and senators have been put squarely on notice now, and so they will be turning their mind to their own affairs and the issues of … foreign citizenship,” Turnbull said.

He said in recent instances foreign citizenship had come about in two ways – citizenship by descent, as with Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, and where somebody had been a citizen of another country and had not properly renounced that citizenship, as with Malcolm Roberts.

Turnbull said the Liberal federal director Andrew Hirst “has told me that all of the Liberal Party members believe that they are in compliance with the Constitution”.

Details about grandparents are not being required, although they are relevant to citizenship by descent.

Asked about their omission, Turnbull said it was a question of “remoteness and knowledge”.

“I think we may find that some members will have to do quite a bit of research to determine the place and date of birth of their parents, let alone their grandparents or potentially great-grandparents. It’s simply trying to get a balance between what is reasonably accessible and remote.”

He said some people “when they do due diligence might come to the conclusion that they are not eligible and they choose to resign”.

“On the other hand, the circumstances that are published may be of a nature that other members say, well, you may be believe you are eligible but I do not.” And then the latter member could move the case be referred to the court.

The declarations would also be made after an election.

Turnbull said there were many aspects of the recent decision by the court – which ruled five of the seven current or former MPs before it were ineligible when elected – that needed to be worked on for future elections.

“For example we have to consider whether people who nominate for parliament should not be obliged to provide information like this as part of the nomination process, even if only to make sure they turn their minds to it,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull foreshadowed that there could be further cases. “The court made its decision in the terms it did. It may give rise to more cases.”

“The High Court decision does create some real challenges because they have said that knowledge is not material. The fact is that very often people do not know.

“It may be that they do not know because it is very hard to know. Maybe they do not know because they have not thought about it,” Turnbull said.

Liberal backbencher Eric Abetz, who last week called for an audit, welcomed the “prime minister’s strong and decisive action to restore the integrity of the parliament”.

“I am confident that it will go a long way to ensure the parliament is seen to have integrity not only in the short term but well into the future,” Abetz said. “I am appreciative that the prime minister has taken on board the views of the backbench on this issue.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Turnbull’s plan was “full of holes” and did “nothing to end the uncertainty”. The Greens would continue to press for an audit. There needed to be a “forensic look at the documentation” when there were questions about a person’s potential dual citizenship.

Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi tweeted:

The Conversation

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Advertisements

Shorten urges MPs all disclose citizenship to parliament



File 20171103 26462 1o10oiz.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Bill Shorten has said Labor would support a ‘universal disclosure to the parliament’ on citizenship.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has proposed a compromise to deal with the citizenship crisis, saying Labor would support a “universal disclosure to the parliament”.

Labor has been on a unity ticket with the Coalition in opposing an audit, but as the crisis continues to unfold it has moved to a position that falls short of bringing in an outside auditor, while putting pressure on the government. The ALP argues an outside audit would undermine the High Court, which judges eligibility cases.

Shorten said the opposition accepted that more needed to be done to restore confidence in the system. The ALP had the strictest vetting system and so “nothing to fear from greater transparency and disclosure”.

Earlier, the government spent Friday warding off suggestions that Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg might be a citizen of Hungary, via his Jewish mother who was born in Budapest in 1943 and as a child came to Australia, stateless.

Shorten offered to co-operate with the government to come up with an agreed process for clarifying MPs’ citizenship.

“Whatever the ultimate process is, it must adhere to clear principles. It must be accountable to the people through the parliament. It must have bipartisan agreement prior to implementation. It must be sufficiently robust to give all Australians confidence in the process.

“But it must not be allowed to create more legal problems, or in any way undermine the supremacy of the High Court on these matters,” he said, adding that “one thing is clear – the situation as it stands cannot be allowed to continue”.

Frydenberg was drawn into the citizenship affair after The Australian highlighted the background of his mother.

Under a Hungarian law to address the stateless status of Jews persecuted in the war, anyone born in Hungary in 1941-45 is automatically a Hungarian citizen. The Hungarian citizenship act gives citizenship to the children of citizens, the paper reported.

Frydenberg said it was “completely absurd” to think that retrospectively, and against her will, his mother could be made a Hungarian citizen, and that that would flow through to him.

Turnbull, who has just returned from Israel, sounded emotional as he hit back strongly against any suggestion Frydenberg could be Hungarian.

“If any member of the House of Representatives wants to stand up and say – and move – that Josh Frydenberg is a citizen of Hungary, the country that were it not for the end of the war, would have killed his mother and his grandparents, if somebody wants to stand up and allege that, fine.

“Let them do that. They can do that. We’ll see if they persuade the House to refer the matter to the High Court,” he said.

Turnbull continued to resist calls for an audit: “We must not allow ourselves to be dragged into a sort of lynch mob, witch-hunt, trial by innuendo and denunciation.

“There is an established process here. There is a court, the highest in the land, that has the constitutional authority to deal with it and the parliament has the ability to make references to it.

“It’s about time we all returned to the land of common sense and the rule of law.”

Shorten said the government had no plan to resolve the citizenship crisis, and Turnbull had been incapable of providing leadership on it.

Shorten said he was deeply concerned that, following the resignation from parliament this week of Senate President Stephen Parry, stories had emerged about senior ministers being aware of the situation. This “cover-up” was alarming.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has confirmed that Parry spoke to him some weeks ago about his situation, which Parry kept secret until this week.

Parry has indicated he spoke to various colleagues, and the feeling was he should not do anything before the High Court decisions on the multiple cases before it, which came last week.

In these decisions, Nationals Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash were disqualified. Parry then sought clarification on whether he, like Nash, was a British citizen and was told by the British authorities that he was, prompting his parliamentary resignation.

The ConversationTurnbull said he wasn’t party to any conversation Parry had had with Fifield, but the responsibility to comply with the Constitution was with Parry.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Latest Persecution News – 11 March 2012


Church Head in Unprecedented Meeting with Turkish MPs

The following article reports on the meeting of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey with members of the Turkish government over the future of Christianity in that country.

http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/turkey/article_1420539.html

 

Pakistani Muslims Employ ‘Blasphemy’ Threat in Land Grab

The following article reports on the threat of blackmail by Muslims in a dispute with Christians in the Punjab, Pakistan.

http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/pakistan/article_1420922.html

 

Indictment of ‘Masterminds’ of Murders in Turkey Expected

The following article reports on the continuing criminal investigation and trial associated with the murder of Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske in 2007.

http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/turkey/article_1421958.html

 

The articles linked to above are by Compass Direct News and  relate to persecution of Christians around the world. Please keep in mind that the definition of ‘Christian’ used by Compass Direct News is inclusive of some that would not be included in a definition of Christian that I would use or would be used by other Reformed Christians. The articles do however present an indication of persecution being faced by Christians around the world.

Christmas could be cancelled by British government


Christmas could be cancelled by a bill being put forward by the Labour government, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have said, reports Hilary White, LifeSiteNews.com.

In a letter to MPs, Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that Harriet Harmon’s Equality Bill will have a "chilling effect" on local councils, town halls and other organizations clamping down on Christmas festivities for fear of offending people of other religions.

The Equality Bill combines all previous equality legislation in the U.K., and includes a range of new provisions.

"Under existing legislation," Summersgill wrote, "we have seen the development of a risk-averse culture with outcomes as ridiculous as reports of a local authority instructing tenants to take down Christmas lights in case they might offend Muslim neighbours, or of authorities removing the word Christmas out of cultural sensitivity to everyone except Christians.

"If this bill is serious about equality, everything possible must be done to avoid it having a chilling effect on religious expression and practice."

The Christian Institute, Britain’s leading Christian political lobby group, has listed incidents where public displays of Christianity at Christmas have already come under attack. Councils around Britain are removing all references to the name "Christmas" from their 2009 events. Birmingham City Council has changed the name of this year’s light-switching-on event to the generic "Winterval." Last November an attempt by Oxford City Council to drop Christmas from the title of the city’s celebrations was condemned by both residents and religious leaders.

The Christian Institute complained about the bill, saying that councils "are already over-zealous in applying equality laws." The bill, they said, "will make this worse."

In fact, some of the Labour government’s closest advisors have already urged it to abolish public displays of a Christian origin at Christmas. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which has shaped many Labour party policies, said in 2007 that Christmas "should be downgraded to help race relations."

The equality legislation leads only to the law favoring aggrieved minority lobby groups over the existing Christian culture, the Christian Institute says. The group pointed to the closure and forced secularization of several of Britain’s Catholic adoption agencies under similar legislation, the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) of the 2007 Equality Act.

Under the SORs, they said, "the rights of children have been trumped by the rights of homosexual adults. Any agency which refuses to do homosexual adoptions becomes a target for closure."

Report from the Christian Telegraph 

Australia Considers Same-Sex "Marriage"


By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

CANBERRA, November 10, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As part of its inquiry into the Marriage Amendment Bill the Australian government yesterday heard arguments for and against same-sex “marriage.”

The Australian Green party is pushing for the redefinition of marriage as part of their platform in anticipation of next year’s federal election.

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to allow Labor MPs a free parliamentary vote on same-sex “marriage” when it comes before the House. “This is not a gay issue, it’s a human rights issue,” she said

“I’m calling for the prime minister to … grant his members a conscience vote so we can get a true reflection of how the Australian community is feeling,” Hanson-Young told ABC TV this week, adding, “The majority of Australians think people should be able to marry who they want.”

The Sydney Star Observer reports that the Bill has prompted a considerable response from citizens, with the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee receiving more than 20,000 submissions in the past two months.

The committee reported on Monday that the submissions ran about two to one against same-sex “marriage.”

“16,752 emails were received against amending the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples, while only 8,666 emails had been received for,” the report stated.

The Australian Family Association’s (AFA) submission reaffirmed that marriage should be reserved as a union between a man and a woman.

“We submit that marriage deliberately identifies and protects a particular type of relationship – the uniquely pro-generative male-female relationship – which carries a unique (and not inconsiderable) significance for both contemporary Australian society, and for the entire human species,” the AFA stated.

The AFA is encouraging Australians to send a strong message to their elected leaders to defend traditional marriage. A petition and contact information is available on the group’s website.

“Without a public ‘uprising’ to defend marriage,” said the group, “it is conceivable that Australia could join other nations (namely Canada, Spain, Belgium and some American states) in legalising same-sex ‘marriage’. We are charged therefore with the serious responsibility of working to retain the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Now, and over the next year we must garner an increasing mass of people to take a stand for marriage.”

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is scheduled to publish the results of its inquiry into the Marriage Amendment Bill on November 26, 2009.

This Report from LifeSiteNews.com

www.LifeSiteNews.com

Rudd Labor Off and Running … Liberals???


The Kevin Rudd Labor government is off and running, even though the government is yet to be sworn in. In what can only be described as very hopeful and wonderful signs of a pro-active government to come, Kevin Rudd and his newly formed ministry have hit the road running in almost every major policy area. The Rudd Labor government looks set to keep faith with the electorate by implementing each and every promise it made in the election campaign as quickly as possible.

Perhaps of even greater significance is the new government’s determination to meet every issue facing the nation head on, with a very strong emphasis of getting down and dirty with the nation as it seeks to meet the many problems that currently face it, including homelessness and indigenous affairs. Labor MPs are being urged very strongly by Prime Minister elect Kevin Rudd, to become intimately familiar with the problems facing Australia by getting in amongst the issues by visiting the homeless, aged care facilities, etc. These visits are not to be photo ops, but fact finding missions with a view to finding solutions for the problems facing Australia.

The doubters of Kevin Rudd must surely be very impressed with his approach to government thus far and the determination being shown by Labor in government to make a real difference and improvement in Australia for all. Kevin Rudd the man is now standing out for all of Australia to see and we watch with interest to learn more and watch his development as Prime Minister. The test of the man and leader is surely yet to come, as adversity will bring out the true character of Kevin Rudd – but he is certainly of to a great start. 

There is renewed hope for Australia’s future like there hasn’t been for many years – these are very interesting and exciting times to be Australian.

For the Liberal Party however it is more of the same it seems with the new leadership team sounding like the same party that was so soundly turned put of office in the recent national poll. John Howard, Peter Costello and co may all be gone, but the same tired rhetoric and sentiment seems to remain. It would appear that on current form a spell in the political wilderness beckons for the Liberal/National Party opposition, along with many leadership tensions and an inability to move on.

Ruddslide


The ‘Kevin 07’ campaign has been waged and won with victory for the ‘true believers.’ After 11 ½ years in opposition, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has swept to victory in the Australian national election, with the former Prime Minister (John Howard) loosing his own seat in the process. Not only has Kevin Rudd and the ALP swept John Howard and the Liberal-National Party government from office, it has now also seen off the leadership of John Howard, Peter Costello and Mark Vaile, along with several other high ranking Coalition ministers.

In the wake of Kevin Rudd’s 6% swing against the Howard government, the Liberal and National Party Coalition is in disarray and will now need to rebuild following it’s decimation in Saturday’s national election. The Coalition has lost government, its leadership, many party MPs and will loose its Senate majority in July 2008.

Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson have all declared themselves as being contenders for leadership of the Liberal Party, and we are yet to hear who will stand for the National Party Leadership. Whoever does win leadership of the opposition parties, they face what is potentially a two-term opposition period (at least) given the extent of the Rudd victory.

Australians are now looking forward to the end of Workchoices and other draconian industrial relations legislation brought into being by the Howard government during their final term. There are also great hopes for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on CO2 emissions, as well as other climate change and environmental initiatives. Progress is also expected in many other key areas including health, education, refugees, social welfare, infrastructure, federal-state cooperation, defence policy and overseas intervention, etc.

The Australian electorate expects much from the new Rudd government and I for one do not expect that this trust will be in vain. Kevin Rudd is a man of great intellect, determination and action, and I think Australia will be delighted with his approach to government and leadership in the coming weeks and months.

Already Kevin Rudd has begun his role of leadership, along with deputy Julia Gillard, visiting a school today in order to get his education revolution under way immediately. He has also accepted an invitation to Bali in the next week or so to attend a conference on climate change and CO2 reduction targets. Already he has begun work on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets. This is a wonderful first fruit and a sign of what is hopefully to come.

Australia is a great nation, with a great economic track record in recent years ~ however, our reputation as being a compassionate and just people has suffered in recent times. I for one will welcome a return to a more just and socially responsible government and nation.