Show us the proof, Prime Minister!

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Ranting
Tags: ,

When Barak Obama won the Democrat ticket to run for President, the dramas started about whether or not he was really a US citizen, continuing on after he had taken office. And it all turned out to be a big beat up. However we now have an Australian version that is looking quite serious.

The Australian constitution is quite clear on the matter of eligibility to be elected to national political office – section 44 expressly clarifies the matters of disqualification.

Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott

Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was born in Britain and his family emigrated to Australia in 1960. However he clearly retained his dual citizenship after taking out Australian citizenship in 1981. Now that in itself is fine – unless you want to run for political office in which case section 44 (i) expressly disqualifies you for being “under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.” Holding that dual citizenship expressly disqualified Anthony John Abbott from even standing for office until such a time that he gave up that extra allegiance. And the Australian High Court found in 1999 that the United Kingdom is a ‘foreign power’ for the purposes of the Australian Constitution with express application to section 44.

At this point I should note that the Australian Electoral Commission has to wear some of the blame as it appears they only check that a potential candidate is present on electoral roles, not clarifying the quite clear requirement of section 44.

So the question becomes – has Tony Abbott ever given up his British citizenship? If the answer were yes, then why is it nobody seems to be able to find it? This matter has been independently explored with results published on a public blog.

Matters have reached the point that the Australian Prime Minister must be required to provide the evidence that he has complied with that constitutional requirement to be elected to office. And just to be fair, at the same time let us have a proper audit of all Members of Parliament and Senators to ensure all members are actually eligible to be there.

Do I expect anything to come of this? No. Our Prime Minister has previously shown quite questionable ethics. Take for example when he was caught out in late 2013 as one of the MPs who had abused expense claims for ‘electoral business.’ He used the public purse to pay for his travel

The Mirabella wedding

The Mirabella wedding

and accommodation to attend the wedding of one of his then-Parliamentary colleague, Sophie Mirabella, in 2006. Then in 2010 he had the public purse pay for almost $10,000 in travel and accommodation on the promotional tour for his then just-released book. He only repaid these funds after being caught out by news media (as did other MPs on both sides of the House although I understand there were more of Abbott’s colleagues caught out than the Opposition). The defence offered up was that it was unclear whether these expenses were ‘electoral business’ or not. What a pathetic excuse. It got even better when Abbott publicly declared he thought the wedding invitation would have been sent to the office he held in government rather than as a personal invitation. There wasn’t even that pathetic excuse as defence for shamelessly abusing the public purse to promote his combination memoir and personal political manifesto. Even HRH Speaker Bronwyn Bishop ensured she was already present in town on political business, staying on at her own expense for the wedding.

In the rest of the country, rorting expenses will get you the sack. It is only politicians like Abbott that get the slate wiped clean for repaying it once caught out. I believe I was ripped off by a bank one time. Would I be allowed to grab money out of a teller’s hands with a defence that I thought I was entitled to it and avoid criminal prosecution if I repaid it? Of course not! But we have a Prime Minister who has repeatedly displayed highly questionable ethics. So I confidently expect that if Tony Abbott was in fact constitutionally ineligible to hold Parliamentary office, it shall be either swept aside or subject to a cover up.

The onus is now clearly on the Prime Minister to provide the evidence that he had given up his British citizenship before he was first elected to office in 1994 and for each election since then.

Over to you, Prime Minister.

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