Transcripts → 2017


Doorstop - Mural Hall

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia


Date: Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Citizenship disclosures

QUESTION: Senator, are we about to see a rash of new referrals to the High Court for MPs and Senators? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: Let us see what emerges over the next 24 hours. Let me just say, tonight Bill Shorten’s dishonesty, hypocrisy, sanctimonious hypocrisy, has been completely exposed. For months now he has been lecturing everyone about how fantastic Labor’s vetting processes supposedly are. Here we have got David Feeney, not only did he forget that he owned a multi-million dollar house somewhere in Melbourne, he also clearly forgot that he had another citizenship. You can not tell me, nobody can tell me, that Bill Shorten only found out tonight that David Feeney is still a dual citizen, still holds British citizenship. That is something that Bill Shorten would have known for some time, yet he continued to keep up the pretence that somehow nobody on the Labor party side had any issues with their citizenship at all. 

QUESTION: David Feeney said he did renounce and that the documents have simply been lost by the British Home Office. 

MATHIAS CORMANN: The dog ate my homework. That is precisely the same excuse we got from David Feeney before when he lost his paperwork in relation to the multi-million dollar property he somehow lost in Melbourne. He lost his paper work then too. He is clearly not somebody who is very good at his paperwork. I do not think that anyone in Australia believes, for one second, that David Feeney did his homework in relation to this. I think it is very clear now that David Feeney has got a serious problem.

QUESTION: There is a whole bunch of Liberal Coalition MPs and Senators as well. Do you think that the Coalition does have a problem here too? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: Let us see. What you can say in relation to the Coalition is that whenever we have become aware of a citizenship problem, a problem of eligibility under Section 44 of the Constitution, we have acted swiftly. Individual Coalition Members and Senators immediately accepted the consequences on becoming aware of problems with their eligibility. That is why we have had a by-election in New England last Saturday. That is why we are having a by-election in Bennelong on the 16th of December. That is why a whole range of Senators on the Coalition side accepted the consequences of the information in front of them. Bill Shorten so far kept the dishonest pretence up, kept the dishonest pretence alive, that somehow nobody on the Labor side had any issues whatsoever. Well that is now absolutely exposed as a sanctimonious lie. 

QUESTION: Do you think though that we are going to see a whole range of by-elections, early next year? Should they all take place for example, one weekend, or would there be a mass-referral to the High Court? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: These are not decisions for me to make. Let us just see what emerges over the next few days. But we now know that there is a whole range of Labor Members who clearly have some explaining to do. There is a whole range of Labor Members who clearly, at the time of nominating for the last election, by their own admission, where still dual citizens, still had citizenship of another country, in direct breach of Section 44 of the Constitution. 

Thank you.