Aussie High Court On Dual Citizenship
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 11:30AM
Bill Barclay

The challenge against the eligibility of seven members of both houses of the the Australian Parliament has been set down for a hearing in October, and it should make a few waves across the Tasman with even the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce under threat of removal, because his father was born here.

The archaic eligibility rules that were laid down in Section 44 of the 1905 Constitution have always been hanging over the head of these members, and potentially many who have gone before, but only caused a furore when Joyce's eligibility was questioned out of the blue last month.

Boy, and what a furore - everyone racing home to check filial relationships long forgotten, but under strict criteria, nevertheless devastating. Not even belated renouncement of the offending qualification was seen as sufficient to avoid the Sword of Damocles.

They are history, if the High Court deems them so, and from my own knowledge, having done Constitutional Law at Queensland University in the distant past, that Court is quite pedantic when determining how the Constitution is to be interpreted.

Every commentator has a view on how the latest iteration of the Court is likely to react - see Crispin Hull in the Sydney Morning Herald. He is not alone in this view, but the contrary is equally well expressed in other media. 

You can only bet on the fact that there will some very nervous nellies around Canberra when the Court is sitting in October. There is unlikely to be any delay in the handing down of a decision by the 11 person Court - and they will be well aware that a negative ruling on any of the seven in the gun could alter Parliament in a way that could precipitate either a single or double dissolution. 

Coming so soon after the previous double dissolution would almost certainly mean the downfall of Turnbull's government, and the likely re-emergence of the divisive Tony Abbott, but in opposition. Labour are polling well in the lead, and Turnbull will not be forgiven for the weak leadership he has demonstrated over the last term. -- see next posts for evidence of that




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