Greens resignations show a need to change dual citizenship requirements

July 20, 2017

Lorraine Finlay

Changing constitutional requirements: Finlay says the resignations show a need for conversation that disqualify dual citizens

Off the back of resignations of Greens co-deputy leaders Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, Murdoch University’s Lorraine Finlay has published an article that shows a need for a conversation about changing constitutional requirements that disqualify dual citizens.

On Tuesday, Deputy Greens leader Larissa Waters resigned from the Senate after it was revealed she holds dual citizenship and should never have been elected to Federal Parliament. Ludlam resigned after he was found to hold a New Zealand citizenship.

In the article published on The Conversation, Finlay says it is expected the Senate will refer both matters to the High Court, sitting in its capacity as the Court of Disrupted Returns.

“The court will almost certainly find both senators ineligible based on their dual citizenship. It will declare the resulting vacancies should be filled by a recount of the ballot papers from the 2016 federal election,” said the School of Law lecturer.

Section 44 of the Constitution sets out several disqualifications that result in a person being ‘in capable of being chosen or sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives’. Section 44(i) effectively means that dual citizens are not ordinarily eligible to be elected to parliament.”

Finlay says several expert bodies and parliamentary committees have considered Section 44(i) over the years and recommended reform.

“When considering changes to Section 44(i), the key is to strike the right balance between maximising participation by Australian citizens while also safeguarding the national interest. Given the events of the past week, now is an opportune time to engage in that conversation,” she said.

The full article published on The Conversation can be viewed here.

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