MKG-newSection 44 of the Constitution has never been as interesting as it is now, especially in the seat of New England. There are five cases including our local member, who are to be referred to the High Court.  The facts in each case are different but all involve s.44(i) of the Constitution.

Section 44(i) states that any person is disqualified if they are “a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.

The section has been looked at by the High Court most comprehensively in Sykes v Cleary [2] [1992] HCA60 (Sykes case).

The facts in the Sykes case involve a Mr Delacretaz and Mr Kardamitsis both whom were born overseas. Both had utilised their foreign citizenship before becoming Australian citizens and the question was had they renounced their citizenship.  It was held that they had not and both were ineligible to stand.

Justice Brennan said;

“to take an extreme example, if a foreign power were mischievously to confer its nationality on members of the Parliament, so as to disqualify them, it would be absurd to recognise the foreign law confirming foreign nationality”.

Justice Dean said;

“an Australian born citizen is not disqualified by reason of the second limb of s44(i) unless he or she has established, asserted, accepted or acquiesced in the relevant relationship with the foreign power”.

Each of the cases that will come before the High Court involve different facts, some of which are similar to those in the Sykes case but most of them are different. The questions that will need to be determined include does a foreign citizenship automatically disqualify a candidate, what amounts to reasonable steps to ensure you are a foreign citizen and is consent a consideration?

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