Citizen rules are ‘out of step’

Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.

Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.

Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey believes the citizenship crisis that has seen multiple federal parliamentarians resign in recent months has highlighted the Australian Constitution may be out of step with modern Australia.

Mr Ramsey has also reassured the electorate he will not be caught in the dual citizenship crisis.

“Just to clear the air on my citizenship, I was born in Australia, as were my parents and all of my grandparents and I have no entitlement to citizenship of any other country,” Mr Ramsey said.

Mr Ramsey said the recent eviction of five members from Parliament, with six more in doubt, may be due to the Constitution being “out of step with modern Australia”.

He blamed the ambiguity of the Constitution and the phrasing of Section 44, the section which has led to multiple parliamentarians resigning.

Section 44 specifies if a candidate for the national parliament “is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to their rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”, they are ineligible.

Mr Ramsey said there was lots of information in that phrase and he questioned the meaning of the word “acknowledgement” and the phrase “entitled to the rights”.

“The High Court has ruled people born in Australia who have rights to citizenship of another country, even if they have never exercised those rights or are unaware of them contravene Section 44,” Mr Ramsey said.

Mr Ramsey said Australian citizenship was only introduced in 1946 and provisions for dual citizenship did not exist until 1986.

“When the Constitution was adopted, there was no concept of Australian citizenship and all members of the Commonwealth were British, meaning English, Canadian, South African and Indians were eligible to sit in our parliament,” he said.

“We have no choice in this case but to see our colleagues leave parliament until a referendum is held regarding this issue, as the High Court won’t change their interpretation of the constitution.”

Mr Ramsay said he did not support an audit of parliamentarians’ citizenship as he believed the declaration proposed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was enough.

“I can assure you that our democracy is strong enough that it can handle anything thrown at it,” Mr Ramsey said.