Senator Malcolm Roberts. Picture: Kym Smith.
Senator Malcolm Roberts. Picture: Kym Smith.

Citizenship saga could topple Turnbull government

THE dual citizenship saga that has forced several politicians to suddenly step down could be about to claim at least another two prominent MPs.

The citizenship ruckus now threatens the survival of the Turnbull government with a Liberal MP in Victoria possibly facing disqualification.

Party figures fear MP for Chisholm Julia Banks has not shed Greek citizenship inherited from her father who arrived in Australia as a 15-year-old.

Ms Banks today said she has never taken out Greek citizenship.

If she is found to be a dual citizen and required to leave Parliament, a by-election would have to be called. If the Liberals were to lose it, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would lose his one-seat advantage in the House of Representatives.

He would have to negotiate a minority government, or call a general election. Ms Banks has been a party hero for taking Chisholm in last year's election. It had been vacated by former Labor Speaker Anna Burke.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull taking a selfie with Julia Banks MP, Member for Chisholm (L) and school children at a Community Morning Tea at the Box Hill RSL in Melbourne, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull taking a selfie with Julia Banks MP, Member for Chisholm (L) and school children at a Community Morning Tea at the Box Hill RSL in Melbourne, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough) NO ARCHIVING MAL FAIRCLOUGH

Pauline Hanson's dramatic political comeback is also unravelling today with evidence a second One Nation senator might have been ineligible for election.

Her biggest problem is again within her own party, not from outside enemies.

Queensland's One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has revealed he wrote to British authorities - "three different people" - in June last year renouncing his UK citizenship, but did not get a reply until December 5.

That could mean he was still a British citizen, holding dual nationality, at the time of the July 2 election, which would have disqualified him from standing under provisions of the Constitution.

The matter might be cleared up by the public release of the renunciation correspondence and particularly the British response, but Senator Roberts has declined to do so, saying it would be misinterpreted by "the Twitterati".

He told Sky News on Thursday night he was "very confident" he was not a dual citizen "and I have received advice legally to the same effect. Very pleased with that advice."

The eligibility mess follows the clean and voluntary departures of Greens Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters on dual citizenship grounds, and the referral to the High Court of the situation of the former Resources Minister, the Nationals' senator Matt Canavan.

Reports today suggest as many as 20 MPs may now be facing questions over their nationality as the crisis spreads.

The handling of the One Nation cases suggests the party had not adequately assessed candidates and was confused even as it claimed to speak for many voters.

And Senate membership uncertainty will reduce the party's crossbench power and add see the party blamed for instability.

Pauline Hanson ended 18 years of political failure at the July 2 election, returning to federal Parliament with three other One Nation senators and considerable influence over the fate of legislation.

However, West Australian Rod Culleton quit to sit as an independent senator and then was removed from Parliament by the High Court because he was a bankrupt at the time of the election - another disqualification under the Constitution.

He was replaced by his brother-in-law Peter Georgiou, the next candidate on the One Nation ticket.

If Senator Roberts has to leave, it is likely he would be replaced by the next candidate on the One Nation Queensland ticket, Fraser Anning.

Should Mr Anning - who received 19 primary votes in the election - be ineligible for some reason, the next in line is Senator Hanson's sister Judy Smith.

Just as Mr Culleton fought removal, Senator Robert's quirky resistance to full disclosure is being seen as a further sign of desperation, and the scandal is reinforcing views the One Nation is poorly organised.

On Thursday a spokesman for the senator reportedly told Fairfax media: "He is preferring to believe that he was never British because he has no allegiance or exercised any citizenship arrangement.

"There is nothing wrong or incongruent with Malcolm Roberts putting his hand up and saying, "As far as I'm concerned I'm not British, never was' - the British Government may have a different view."

On Facebook Pauline Hanson condemned the citizenship "witch hunt", although Senator Roberts is proposing a detailed and intrusive inquiry.
inquiry along those lines.

He has called for a Senate probe into the nationality status of all members of Parliament.

"I can hand-on-heart assure everyone that Malcolm is not a dual citizen," Senator Hanson wrote on Facebook.
"I saw first-hand his renouncement of UK citizenship before he became a candidate for the Senate."

News Corp Australia

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