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What is Tony Abbott hiding?

September 7, 2014 by Eddy Jokovich in News with 40 Comments

abbottThere’s a rather odd case that’s developing in the media and it’s the question of whether the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is fit to hold office in the Australian Parliament. Before you start thinking, ‘Oh no, not another critique on Tony Abbott’s character’, this is more to do with a technicality and nothing to do with his moral character (although that’s one thing that we’ll end up on).

According to Section 44 of the Australian Constitution, a person who is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power, is disqualified from becoming a candidate for election to the Australian Parliament. This has been widely interpreted to mean that persons with dual citizenship are not permitted to stand for election.

Tony Abbott was born in the United Kingdom in 1957, and arrived in Australia with his parents in 1960. His father is British and his mother is Australian. Although living in Australia for most of his life, he did not become an Australian citizen until 1981, a requirement for his Rhodes scholarship.

There has been conjecture for some time as to whether Tony Abbott has renounced his British citizenship but the issue has developed further over the past month, with the investigations by Tony Magrathea, detailing his attempts to determine whether this renunciation ever occurred, starting to become more prominent.

This seems to be such a small (but important) matter, that is seems peculiar that Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, has gone to great lengths to refuse Freedom of Information requests for access to any available documentation from the National Archives of Australia, or the British Office of Records.

It seems that there are three possibilities in this issue:

Before 1994…

Tony Abbott renounced his British citizenship, as required by the Australian Constitution, before seeking election in early 1994. If this is the case, to stop this issue spiraling out of control and continuing to be a minor irritant, Tony Abbott should release documentation showing that he formally renounced his British citizenship.

After 1994…

Tony Abbott renounced his British citizenship sometime after his election in 1994. If this is the case, it’s not possible to ‘unelect’ a person after they have completed a parliamentary term – but Section 46 of the Constitution stipulates the disciplinary measure for sitting in Parliament while disqualified; the sum of £100 per day of sitting. Again, Tony Abbott should release any documentation, pay any disciplinary fines (accumulated at the appropriate Commonwealth Bonds rate), and work out a way of explaining this to the Australian public. This would be an embarrassment, but with two years before the next federal election, a minor irritant would be removed.

Never…

Tony Abbott has not renounced his British citizenship and, if this is the case, he would be disqualified from Parliament. A by-election in the seat of Warringah would be called and he would need to be re-elected to resume his seat. I would imagine that the Liberal Party would call the by-election urgently – there are no set times for how soon a by-election can be held – the by-election for the seat of East Sydney in 1903 was held 17 days after it was declared vacant. Under this scenario, we would have another Prime Minister, probably the current Treasurer, Joe Hockey (although, who knows what kind of a result a Coalition party room ballot would throw up).

The precedents for this latter possibility are clear. Jackie Kelly, a Minister in the Howard Government, was elected to Parliament during the general election of 1996 but, after a challenge by the Labor Party on the basis of her citizenship status and employment by the Crown, her election was declared invalid and a by-election was held. After she renounced her New Zealand citizenship and terminated her employment with the RAAF, she won that by-election with an even greater margin, but the point is that her initial candidacy was declared invalid. The One Nation candidate in the Senate, Heather Hill, was also ruled ineligible after the 1998 general election.

In this situation, Tony Abbott could not survive. Aside from the ignominy, a Prime Minister who scorns asylum seekers for throwing away their documentation and demands that the unemployed should document two job applications every day, can’t even get his own house in order and ensure that his candidacy in the Parliament is legal? The Labor Party would have a field day.

While many broken promises have been brushed away by the Prime Minister and truth-stretching has become the norm for this Government, this is not a situation that can be easily flicked away, or explained in half-truths and blatant lies. It would entrench ideas in the electorate that there is one rule for one, and other rule for others or, in this case, a rule not even properly adhered to. It would also go to the heart of competency.

Ultimately, it might not matter to the Australian public. But, the Australian Constitution is an important document and the rules are there for all to see. The laws and sections of the Constitution are either important, or they are not, and as Tony Abbott claims to be a firm believer in constitutional law, he’d be the first one to recognise this.

The office of the Prime Minister is going to great lengths to withhold information about whether Tony Abbott has renounced his British citizenship. It would be better for the Prime Minister to release any documentation that is relevant to this, and clear up this matter of public importance.

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About Eddy Jokovich

Eddy Jokovich has over 20 years of experience working in media-based production work, including print management and production, art direction for film, video, print and web. He has produced many books, magazines, handbooks and has worked as a war correspondent, journalist, lecturer in media studies and production.

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40 Comments

  1. Mark LawrenceFebruary 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    This will teach you to listen to constructive criticism and to tell the truth.

  2. astraFebruary 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Off topic, but do any of you Abbott Assassins realise just how much of a financial mess PM’s Rudd & Gillard left this land of Oz in?… didn’t think so!

  3. Canberra Taking More Orders From Above? – Gumshoe NewsJanuary 27, 2015 at 8:36 am

    And it is alleged in this article that Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, has gone to great lengths to refuse Freedom of Information requests for access to any available documentation from the National Archives of Australia, or the British Office of Records. http://gumshoenews.com/2015/01/27/canberra-taking-more-orders-from-above/

  4. Robert EdwardsJanuary 26, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Notably, state criminal codes require any person who believes an offence has been committed to report that offence. Failure to do so may render that person to be guilty of an offence. This means you and me and anyone else who reads this or believes Abbott may be in breach of the Constitution.

  5. Glenn NelsonJanuary 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    As you state, Section 46 is £100 per day. Considering this figure represented 25% of a politicians annual salary at the time the Constitution was drafted, the amounts may not necessarily be described as a “minor irritant”.

    Nice article BTW.

  6. #QLDvotes - fuqdatJanuary 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Abbott hasn’t renounced his UK Citizenship and has been in Parliament illegally all these years? Nobody but Abbott knows and he doesn’t feel Australians have a right to see his renunciation…

  7. Crocodile ChuckJanuary 3, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    ‘Tony Abbott has not renounced his British citizenship and, if this is the case, he would be disqualified from Parliament’:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B42C_wWg31otWnE4Z0dtVEZpYzA/preview?pli=1

  8. Peter AtkinsDecember 29, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    This so called man is a cockroach, you can’t kill him.

  9. AlexDecember 8, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    As good as this would be… my understanding is that the operation of s355(e) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act could effectively prohibit Abbott’s removal from Parliament even if he was found to be a UK citizen today, as the 40-day period under which a petition can be filed in the Court of Disputed Returns has lapsed. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s355.html

  10. KovinDecember 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Who is Credlin to refuse legitimate requests for documents? No one made her the boss, except her, in her mind… The High Court could demand those documents… then there would be no doubt… and they could pursue Abetz for his deception too.

  11. Eddy JokovichDecember 7, 2014 at 10:44 amAuthor

    Absolutely, this is a technicality, but the laws are there for a reason. The law clearly states that dual citizenship is not permitted, and we can’t have our politicians not adhering to the law. I’d agree with your idea that it would be better for the ALP to face Tony Abbott in the next federal election. But, laws are laws, and the constitution is very clear. If we overlook the matter of dual citizenship, what other parts of the law or the constitution could we disregard?

  12. VanDecember 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    1. We should be fighting his policies … not technicalities. This is [a] wasted energy [b] a distraction [c] looks like we are just anti-anti-anti.
    2. If you succeeded in getting rid of Abbott, there is no victory. He will simply be replaced by another neo-con, just as toxic, just as mangled intellectually by the same crippling ideology
    3. At a practical level … would you rather Bill, gentle Bill, not-too-quick-on-his-feet-gentle Bill … would you rather he be facing Abbott at the next election, or Bishop, or Morrison. Bill has his best chance against a punch-drunk Abbott.

  13. 3CanaryDecember 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    There is something else you left out Eddy, section 137.1 of the Commonwealth criminal code states that it is an offence ‘to make materially false or misleading declaration’, punishable by 12 months gaol. An AEC nomination is a declaration, so therefore an offence carrying a 12-month gaol term becomes a ‘disqualifying offence’, which would rule out nominating ever again. Abetz also made false declarations, he didn’t renounce German citizenship until 2010 so he would have filled out at least two nominations.

  14. Gary ShadforthDecember 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    In our democracy, we the people have a right to hold ethical principles of freedom or entitlement to speak out and ask a question of a person who is suspected of illegitimately holding office in our parliament.
    Maybe what happened to Heather Hill should apply to this excuse for a PM. At the 1998 federal election, Heather Hill, a woman with dual British-Australian citizenship, was elected to the Australian Senate as a Senator for Queensland. Henry Sue, a voter from Queensland, appealed to the High Court of Australia, sitting in its capacity as the Court of Disputed Returns. Chief Justice Murray Gleeson ruled that the United Kingdom qualified as a ‘foreign power’ under section 44(i), and as a British citizen Hill was therefore unable to take up her Senate seat.
    And there lies a question: is Abbott an Australian citizen?
    I say let’s fight and counteract Abbott and his lot in only the manner they know best by digging out dirt files – there would be loads of digging.

  15. George KoletsisDecember 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    If this was proven to be true does, this make Tony Abbott an illegal or unlawful politician? Does that also mean he may get evicted from the Lodge, Parliament and even need a by election in Manly?
    May we pray to a superior being to assist us in proving it one way or another, this would be a greater scandal that Rolf Harris.
    And the media would feast on it… And with all the broken promises he has made so far. He would be definitly placed in concrete blocks of the history books as the greatest con artist the poor unfortunate citzens of Manly have elected.

  16. RonniibeeDecember 6, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    At the end of the day, if there is nothing to hide? Then end it, all speculation goes away, the longer this matter remains un addressed, the more suspicious it looks. If he has dual citizenship, does that mean that he is not entitled to the Parliamentary pension and the rorts that go with it? Gee, wouldn’t that be the story of the century! One could only hope.

  17. ana stuartOctober 30, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Perhaps Malcolm Fraser, Geoffrey Robinson or Julian Burnside might have the will to get to the truth of this matter.

  18. sum1October 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    A FOI request. re his renouncement, shows no such paper exists:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B42C_wWg31otWnE4Z0dtVEZpYzA/preview?pli=1

  19. Meg S.September 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

    An investigation, even if Abbott is still an English citizen won’t amount to anything. Eric Abetz hadn’t renounced his German citizenship when he ran at the 1994, 1998 and 2004 elections. He renounced his German citizenship in March before the 2010 election. It went to the High Court, but there are only 40 days following an election when the matter can be challenged. http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/mercury-abetz-challenge-withdrawn

  20. alen balzSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:57 am

    An honest person with nothing to hide would have nullified this allegation at the outset by producing the necessary proof. More importantly, why isn’t the ALP and other opposition members demanding this proof?

  21. jasonSeptember 15, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    What is Abbott hiding? More like buying some time to knock up fake papers!

  22. Robert CincottaSeptember 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    “Team Australia” where you don’t have to do as you say if your in elected office. Most Australians are fools, including myself, for we all believe that the people we elect will do the right thing by us and this nation, but I would hazard a guess that most of them are lining their pockets at our expense. Tell them “they’re dreaming”, as Ted Bullpit (Kingswood Country) said many times.

  23. The BakerSeptember 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    What’s stopping him forging documents? And bribing the right people to vouch for him. Heck, his sins are vast, contempt for everything honourable and accountable to no-one, this minor irritation wouldn’t stop the egomaniac in him.

  24. Edith GartonSeptember 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    If everything is “above board”, then there shouldn’t be a problem should there. Me thinks there is something fishy going on here. He’s lied about everything else, why should this be any different.

  25. John kellySeptember 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

    The tide is growing. Here is another article on the same subject: http://theaimn.com/time-come-clean-tony/

  26. MelvynSeptember 11, 2014 at 3:49 am

    There is one other way to find out, simply call the Brit’s and ask if Tony Abbott is still British and, if not, since when. I so hope this be the end of his political career.

  27. AndrewSeptember 10, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    All you a**eholes calling for Tony Abbott’s neck are nothing but Communist sympathisers.

  28. Robert BrooksSeptember 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Please investigate if Tony Abbott PM illegally stood for parliament as a dual citizen.

  29. Colin Stuart-CampbellSeptember 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

    If this is a legal matter, why is it being stifled? Own up liar.

  30. Robert BrockwaySeptember 10, 2014 at 12:50 am

    I’ve looked into the issue of dual citizens sitting in parliament before. The entire thing is opaque. As far as I can tell, the AEC leaves due diligence on this issue to the parties themselves.

    It is worth noting that the High Court requires those standing for parliament to make ‘all reasonable steps’ to renounce foreign citizenship. A few countries, like Iran, have no concept of renunciation. Thus, a dual citizen could in fact sit in the parliament, as long as they have taken all reasonable steps to renounce foreign citizenship. Like most countries, Britain has a well-defined process for renunciation, so there is no excuse for someone holding British citizenship to be permitted to run for parliament.

    I don’t believe we should ever prohibit a dual citizen from sitting in parliament but if we are going to do it, we need to apply the law transparently and consistently.

    I contacted the office of Stephen Conroy a few years ago and asked when he had renounced his British citizenship. I was ignored. A significant proportion of our politicians were born overseas. I think we need a public register to show when federal politicians renounced any and all foreign citizenship.

  31. Kevin Charles DonovanSeptember 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    He should be investigated, by the Australian Federal Police, and if found to be guilty he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no excuse, other than arrogance, that would justify anything less.

  32. Kerri MorrisSeptember 9, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    As my 5 year old says, liar liar pants on fire! Abbott you are a disgrace to most Australians. You would punish others for doing the things you have/are doing. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION or is that only when it suits you? In the words of the One Nation Party Leader, PLEASE EXPLAIN?

  33. Rhonda NelsonSeptember 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    If he’s not hiding something then it can be proven … so prove it Tony!

  34. Joanne KegelSeptember 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I don’t believe in dual nationality either. You can’t serve two masters. Get rid of this liar.

  35. the lionSeptember 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    What has been forgotten here is that if he was not eligible forgetting the 100 pound a day fine, he would be required to forgo his Parliamentary Pension, as he would not be entitled to it, return the money he has received as a stipend, return the other allowances, etcetera!

    Remember, this is a man who demands from Centrelink clients returns of overpayment, and of course there is that pesky problem in the Constitution about being bankrupt and also that other pesky problem not dissimilar to Mr Slipper! FRAUD!

    Fact is this there would be no by-election with Mr Abbott as a contestant! Just the suggestion that he would have to pay everything back, literally millions of dollars, would put paid to that!

  36. SmiddiSeptember 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

    With the type of lies and corruption we have already seen, no one would be surprised if this were true. He will deny it for as long as he can to stay in power.

  37. victoria sandmannSeptember 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Everybody must read this, then please share

  38. duruttiSeptember 9, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I’m guessing the answer is the second option because the money involved would be large.

  39. SamSeptember 9, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Oh god, yes! PLEASE let this be the undoing of Abbott! Furthermore, let him be punished to the full extent of the law, the same as any other common criminal, for attempting to obstruct investigations and/or withhold information into the matter.

  40. rrobbymillerSeptember 8, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Please sign and share to request investigation: https://www.change.org/p/commonwealth-ombudsman-investigate-if-abbott-pm-illegally-stood-for-parliament-as-a-dual-citizen

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