Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon: Compliance with S.44 of the Constitution a simple process

RESPECTS: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon (second from left) at the Kearsley Remembrance Day service.
RESPECTS: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon (second from left) at the Kearsley Remembrance Day service.

The citizenship debacle continues to wreak havoc in Canberra. On Monday, the Senate met to swear in New Senators and to elect a new President (the equivalent of the Speaker in the House).

Meanwhile, the Liberals have lost John Alexander in the House of Representatives and a war of words has broken out over the legitimacy of a number of others.  None of this had to be.

Politicians have been made acutely aware of S.44 of the Constitution over the course of the last three decades thanks to events in the High Court.

The most recent prior to the current debacle was in 1996 when a challenge against newly elected MP Jackie Kelly under S.44 sent the electors of Lindsay back to the polls.

Since 1996, the Labor Party has had a rigorous process to ensure its candidates don't hold dual citizenship.

Whether that process is robust enough we can't be certain but so far, so good.

But in any case, the responsibility to ensure he or she complies with S.44 of the Constitution rests with the candidate.

It's pretty simple too.

If either of your parents or grandparents are citizens of another country you remove any doubt that you may also have a right to citizenship in another country by writing to that country to surrender that right. So easy.

So think about that the next time someone tells you the whole thing is silly and you should have some sympathy for the person caught out.

Think about this too.

The people who wrote our Constitution decided that if you want to sit in the House of Representatives or the Australian Senate you must have allegiance to Australia only.

While there are some parts of our Constitution that seem a bit dated, I don't believe the ban on dual citizenship is one of them.

Anyone who holds a different view would probably change their opinion if we were in the same sort of environment as we were immediately before and during WWII.

I have zero sympathy for any politician caught up by S.44.

I do though have sympathy for the taxpayers who are funding the legal defense of those caught and expensive by-elections.

If you feel like being angry about something else as well, have a think about what is not happening while this circus rolls on.

The government has effectively stopped governing.

It's every day is consumed by crises, one after another.

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Cal Orchard advises he raised $19,000 for the Black Dog Institute last Saturday. I was only able to call in for a short time but his Kearsley event was certainly impressively big.

The Black Dog Institute aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it and to actively reduce suicide rates .Well done to Cal and all involved.

My thanks to all of our RSL Sub Branches and all those who made sure Remembrance Day was commemorated in an appropriate way.

I attended the Kearsley Service this year where Jordan Fallon, Dale Goldie and their commemorative committee organised a respectful, solemn and well organised period of reflection.

Joel Fitzgibbon is the Federal MP for Hunter