The first time it happened, months ago, confusion over the birth place of a mother or a father and what that means for your seat in parliament might have been understandable.
But this week, as two additional senators come under fire amid questions about dual citizenship, the whole fiasco is starting to feel tired.
It was July – July – when Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens Scott Ludlam realised he was ineligible under the Constitution to sit as a senator because he holds dual citizenship with New Zealand. For the past nine years, he’d been in breach of Section 44 of the constitution and, he claims, was not aware of it.
Four days later, and it was his fellow Deputy Leader Larissa Waters who discovered she had Canadian citizenship.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team break down the entire dual citizenship saga. Post continues after audio.
Then, came the waterfall. Senators and MPs suddenly realising they shared citizenship with other countries and – whooops – had forgotten to disclose it when they ticked the box saying ‘yes’ they were eligible to sit in Australian parliament.
Under Section 44 of the Constitution, any person who “is entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power” is ineligible to sit in Australian parliament. It’s the same clause that means people accused of treason, or who are bankrupt or insolvent, can’t be elected to hold a seat.
Last Friday, seven politicians – people who’d been making decisions on education and health and energy and welfare on behalf of the Australian public – sat in front of the High Court, awaiting its decision on their eligibility.
Four senators including One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts; Greens senator Scott Ludlam; Greens senator Larissa Waters; and Deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash were disqualified. So too was Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
You’d think that would be the end of it. Five people disqualified from parliament in an embarrassing show of ignorance and oversight.