I’m in the Daily Telegraph today on Section 44

I have an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph today about my work uncovering Barnaby Joyce’s dual nationality – and why I think the latest name in the Section 44 farce, ALP senator Katy Gallagher, is in deeper water than many seem to think.



[Note I did not write the headline and think this actually has very little to do with left and right, other than the fact Labor were clearly more diligent in vetting candidates and the Libs are now desperate to get Labor MPs embroiled in all of this.]

I won’t bore you with the details of the Ecuadorean Constitution (you can read the article for a snapshot), only to say if I were a betting man (which I am) I would put my money on Gallagher heading for the High Court before too long.

Most commentators on social media – of which around 85% seem to be Ecuadorean Constitutional experts – seem to disagree.

But Labor’s reasons for why she isn’t a dual citizen have already started to fall apart – their main claim being that the Constitution is not retrospective, which it almost certainly is.

The other ‘out’ is to say she’d have to register to claim it, which seems to dance around semantics about the definition of ‘register’ versus ‘apply’ (you can only register something you already have; you apply for things you don’t). And even if she doesn’t technically have it, she’s still seemingly entitled to it, which would exclude her anyway under a more literal reading of Section 44.

I’m not a constitutional expert myself, Ecuadorean or otherwise – and still think the whole Section 44 thing is ridiculous anyway – but you can’t apply the rules to some MPs and not to others.

Ultimately though, the only opinions that count are that of the Ecuadorean Government (if they respond to the story) and then the High Court.

If I were Senator Gallagher I’d get queuing for the High Court now before somebody else takes her spot.

2 comments

  1. At the time of federation every politican would have been a British subject and/or be eligible for dual citizenship. I suspect those writing the constitution assumed no conflict with persons belonging to the the British Empire. The concern probably related to other nationalities that may be a perceived threat to the then British Empire.

    1. Agreed. Despite uncovering Barnaby Joyce’s dual nationality and saying Katy Gallagher should also head to the High Court, my view remains that the whole thing is ridiculous: messy, complex and outdated. I don’t actually think any democratically elected politician should be ousted from office due to such a technicality – however as long as the rule stands they should abide by it equally.

      Depending on what happens in the High Court the solution could be to clarify the rule in the constitution (which would require a referendum), or perhaps instead just changing the processes when somebody is elected, e.g. getting all MPs to sign something saying they forgo any foreign citizenships they may have, now and in future, whilst they are in parliament (including those they don’t know about).

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