The Coalition and Labor have struck a deal for a December 1 deadline for all MPs and senators to provide details of the citizenship status.
Fairfax Media reports that Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann struck the deal with Opposition leader Bill Shorten, bringing forward Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan by three weeks to – just ahead of Parliament’s final sitting week for 2017.
The ongoing crisis, which on the weekend saw government backbench MP John Alexander resign amid concerns he was also a UK citizen by descent, has escalated to the point were politicians are threatening to refer each other to the High Court and Labor says it’s ready to “go nuclear” on the government, which lost its majority on the weekend with Alexander’s departure.
A motion for the proposal will go before the Senate, which is currently sitting, today, with the House of Representatives returning on November 27.
Turnbull announced plans for a new disclosure model a fortnight ago, and last week held a fruitless two-hour meeting with Shorten in a bid to come to an agreement on the timeframe. The disclosure rules will be based on the members’ register of pecuniary interests and require MPs and Senators to detail their birthplace, citizenship, and if they were born overseas, when they became a naturalised Australian and renounced any foreign citizenship.
The debacle has so far cost four senators and two MPs their jobs, although Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is recontesting his old seat of New England in a December 2 by-election, and Alexander is planning to do the same in Bennelong, with December 16 as a possible election date.
The future of several MPs and Senators still remains under a cloud, with the government relying on the support of Greens MP Adam Bandt to refer Labor MPs to the High Court for determination of their eligibility, and Labor threatening to use Bandt’s support to do the refer several Coalition MPs to the court as well.
Meanwhile, government frontbencher Scott Ryan has been elected the new Senate president, replacing former Tasmanian senator Stephen Parry, who resigned a fortnight ago because he was a dual UK-Australian citizen. Ryan, who will resign as Special Minister of State, was chosen by the Liberal Party for the $355,000 job this morning, seeing off a push by the Nationals for one of the own, John “Wacka” Williams, to become president.
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