Vote needed to fix citizenship: senator

(Australian Associated Press)

 

The chair of a federal inquiry says a referendum is needed to change an “out of step” section of the constitution that has claimed the scalps of several MPs holding dual citizenship.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds is head of a joint standing committee looking into section 44, which bans dual citizens from sitting in federal parliament.

Senator Reynolds said dual citizens were allowed to serve in the army or sit on the High Court, and a national vote was needed to fix the provision.

“While I will not pre-empt the findings of the committee, it is my personal belief that the cleanest way to resolve this problem is to remove sections of 44 … to determine both future qualifications and disqualifications,” she told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

“The only way to do that would be through a referendum. Ultimately the issue of dual citizenship for MPs must be one for Australians to decide, not a parliamentary committee.”

Senator Reynolds’ view increases the chances the joint standing committee on electoral matters will recommend a referendum, possibly in tandem with the next federal election.

Labor leader Bill Shorten agreed that the rule doesn’t exist in other comparable first world countries.

“If we were drafting the constitution today … from scratch, you probably wouldn’t have this particular restriction,” he told reporters in Sydney.

But Mr Shorten said referendums were first needed to recognise indigenous Australians and to have an Australian head of state.

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