All federal politicians will be required to publicly detail their citizenship history and status under new Turnbull government transparency measures designed to end the crisis that has rocked federal Parliament.
Finally moving to address the issue, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced MPs will be required to provide a statement to Parliament’s registrar of interests that outlines all relevant information about where they were born, where their parents were born and what steps they took to renounce any foreign ties.
All that information will then be available for public and media scrutiny, under the plan ticked off by cabinet on Monday. It will be a system similar to that which MPs use to disclose financial interests such as houses and shares.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the new plan. Photo: Andrew Meares
People will be asked to provide “evidence” of their renunciation if they did have a claim to another citizenship.
The plan will require both the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass a motion to implement the new rules. If both chambers do so this month the new system will be in place before Christmas.
“What we have seen is a legitimate concern that there is a insufficient transparency about this matter,” Mr Turnbull said.
But Mr Turnbull emphasised “this is not an audit”.
“As I have said repeatedly over recent times every member of the house and every member of the Senate has a personal obligation to ensure that they are in compliance with the constitution. If they have reason to believe that they are not, then they should say so and take the appropriate action,” he said.
Mr Turnbull will put the plan to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten later on Monday and meet with him to settle details later in the week.
However the disclosures will not have legal force – like a statutory declaration – and will instead be governed by parliament’s privileges system. Under that system, false statements can be judged to be contempt.
Asked if he was confident he would not lose any more Coalition MPs to citizenship issues, Mr Turnbull said: “The federal director has told me that all of the Liberal Party members believe that they are in compliance with the constitution.”
MPs would not be required to detail their grandparent’s citizenship history, even though that can confer citizenship by descent.