Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
DAVID KOCH: Mathias Cormann, are you setting a higher level of a test for Labor than your own Members?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No we are not. What we are saying is that the consequences of dual citizenship should be the same for each Member of Parliament irrespective of which party they belong to. We have at least one Labor Member of Parliament which has confirmed on the public record that she was a dual citizen at the time of nominating for the last election. That is clearly in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution. We are in favour of this disclosure regime, which has been endorsed by the Senate. The Prime Minister put forward this proposal a week or so ago. What we are saying, irrespective of which party any Member belongs to, the consequences should be the same for the same circumstances.
DAVID KOCH: To the average Australian, they are sick of this because it is disrupting politics. You should be getting on with the job. It seems funny to me that you are giving them another two weeks to check it out. Any numbskull in Parliament would have actually already done that over the last couple of weeks wouldn’t they?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Every Member and Senator standing for election at the last election warranted, certified that they were only an Australian citizen. That is part of your nomination form that you fill in with the Electoral Commission. What is being asked here goes a bit further than that. What is required here is for people to provide information about the birth date and birth place of not just their parents, but also their grandparents. For some that will require a little bit of additional work and we do not believe it is unreasonable for people given the additional information that is required to be given the appropriate time.
DAVID KOCH: Do we need to change Section 44 of the Constitution? Do we need to put it to a referendum at the next Federal Election to make it a bit more lenient? We are the most multicultural country in the world, there is always going to be confusion.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a fair question. That is something we can explore in the future. I think that right now, it is incumbent on every Member and Senator to be compliant with the Constitution as it stands. Given what has emerged, we have to work our way through that process under the current arrangements. Into the future, I think it is certainly a valid question. My sense is that the Australian people quite like the fact though that Australian Members of Parliament are required to be Australian citizens only.
DAVID KOCH: Okay, all right Mathias, thanks for that.