KARL STEFANOVIC: The gloves are off this morning- dual citizenship; these two words are causing pollies to drop like flies in Canberra and threatening the Government’s majority.
So what is being done about it? Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now, good morning to both of you, nice to see you in person.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl, glad to be here.
STEFANOVIC: How many more are going to go?
PYNE: I think Karl, the High Court needs to make some pretty clear decisions about what Section 44 of the Constitution means, and more importantly when you do or don’t become a citizen of another country.
Because, in the case of Matt Canavan, apparently his mother made him a citizen of another country when he was 25, he wasn’t an infant, without having even signed an application form. On that basis Kim Jong-un could make us all citizens of North Korea and we would all have to resign.
There has got to be some rules. You can’t just make me a citizen of another country without me knowing it, and then apparently I have to resign from the House of Representatives. There has got to be some common sense approaches to this, otherwise…
STEFANOVIC: How would you respond to Kim Jong-un, if he made you…
PYNE: I would reject the offer. I don’t like Pyongyang.
STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness, are you worried about the Government’s majority? This could end it.
PYNE: I think there is a lot of hyperbole about this particular matter. Every member needs to go through their own particular process, whether they are senators or members of the House of Representatives. There are a lot of Labor MPs who are in a similar position to some of the others who found themselves in difficulty. But the Attorney-General has said that we will refer Matt Canavan’s case to the High Court.
STEFANOVIC: How long is that going to take?
PYNE: I assume the High Court will recognise that it needs to be decided expeditiously. I am sure they will make some sensible ruling around it, and that will give us a way forward.
STEFANOVIC: Okay Albo, how many more are going to be lost from Labor?
ALBANESE: Labor has a very rigorous process in place. When you nominate…
STEFANOVIC: You’re not worried?
ALBANESE: No, we check these things out. We have checked out all of our people, all of our people are fine.
STEFANOVIC: You’ve got to be a little bit nervous about it, saying definitively that you’re not going to lose anyone.
ALBANESE: That’s what happens in terms of- when we nominate for parliament you have to produce evidence, your birth certificate, if you’re born in another country you have to produce evidence that you have renounced citizenship. We go through these processes…
STEFANOVIC: So what you’re saying is that they got it wrong?
ALBANESE: What is very clear, is that on Section 44 there is some uncertainty, including over the employment provisions, and Labor has in our platform actually, reform of Section 44.
That’s pretty hard to achieve, constitutional change. But the High Court is going to look at Matt Canavan’s case, I was going to say Senator Canavan but I’m not sure of his status. They will look at his case and come up with a determination.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. The Australian this morning says that 21 members of parliament will be closely looked at. Is that a long way off the mark do you think?
PYNE: Almost all of those people are Labor Members, so Anthony is better to answer that question…
STEFANOVIC: He said that they‘re all safe.
ALBANESE: We have checked it out, we have our processes.
PYNE: He’s obviously done his homework.
STEFANOVIC: But you must be a little bit concerned as well from your side of things given the small majority?
PYNE: I’m a fifth-generation Australian, so it would be hard for someone to claim that I am a citizen of Ireland after 160 years. But maybe somebody will make the attempt.
STEFANOVIC: In all seriousness though, you’re not concerned about any more members of your party?
PYNE: Karl I have not sat down and researched each of my colleagues’ backgrounds.
STEFANOVIC: You’ve got such a small majority that all it takes is one or two.
PYNE: Clearly, but The Australian has a story, whether that is accurate or not I don’t know, most of them are Labor Members.
The High Court has to make a ruling, but there has to be some common sense, and in the case of Senator Canavan, you cannot be joined up to a citizenship of another country without even signing a form to say you want to do it, when you’re 25.
Now maybe if you’re an infant, your mother can sign you up to be a citizen of another country. Quite frankly, what is going on with the Italian Government? That they will make people citizens of their country, without having a signed application form asking to be a citizen.
STEFANOVIC: You have had a go at Kim Jong-un, and now you’re having a go at the Italian Government. Anyone else you want to have a go at?
PYNE: I think we…
ALBANESE: He’s in charge of defence!
PYNE: I think we’ve entered the theatre of the- I think the Australian public are looking at this and thinking, this is the theatre of the absurd, and there has to be some common sense approaches.
ALBANESE: What we’ve learnt this morning Karl, is that Christopher Pyne has thought about Citizenship in North Korea. He’s rejected it, but he’s thought it through.
STEFANOVIC: He might do some good over there too.
ALBANESE: He’s thought it through.
STEFANOVIC: Thank you gentlemen.