Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg is the latest politician to become involved in the dual citizenship debacle, as he seeks to clarify whether he holds Hungarian citizenship by descent.
Frydenberg’s mother, who was born in Budapest in 1943, was stateless when she arrived in Australia in 1950 as a migrant at age seven. She later became an Australian citizen in 1957.
According to Frydenberg, the fact that his mother and grandparents were “stateless” when they arrived in Australia means he is not entitled to dual citizenship.
A Hungarian law passed in 1939 declared Jews as aliens.
“It is absurd to think that I could involuntarily acquire citizenship of a foreign country from a stateless mother and grandparents,” Frydenberg told the Sydney Morning Herald.
But the Hungarian citizenship act states, “The child of a Hungarian citizen shall become a Hungarian citizen by birth.”
According to The Australian, Frydenberg is yet to formally inquiry with the Hungarian embassy in Canberra and was yesterday seeking advice from an expert in Budapest.
In his maiden speech to parliament in 2010, he recounted the story of his Jewish grandparents’ migration to Australia, praising the contribution migrants had given to communities within his electorate.
Standing before the parliament of our great country, I see my journey to this place in the continuum of my family’s story.
My grandparents on both sides were migrants from Europe. In the late 1930s Morrie and Leah Frydenberg came from Poland to Australia to seek a better life. They arrived while Europe was plunging into darkness.
The experience was different for my maternal grandparents, Sam and Ethel Strauss, and their young daughters, including my mother, who were interned in the Budapest ghetto by the Hungarian fascists. They survived and eventually made their way through displaced persons camps to Australia.
My great‐grandparents, and many relatives on both sides, perished in the Holocaust, but one who survived is with us today.
My great‐aunt Mary Frydenberg spent two years at Auschwitz. She was transferred back to Germany by the Nazis and then sent on a death march, but she escaped with the assistance of a humane German guard. In her run for freedom, she was given shelter by a Catholic priest—at great risk to him—before making her way to Australia.
This week Senate president Stephen Parry resigned from Parliament because he was in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution.
Last week, five MPs, including then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, were dismissed from Parliament after the High Court found they were in breach of the Constitution when they stood for election last year.
Meanwhile Malcolm Turnbull has rejected calls for an audit into all MPs’ citizenship status despite support for an audit rallying within the government.
Backbencher Craig Kelly and former Cabinet ministers Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews back the idea.
If Frydenberg is found to be a dual citizen, the government would well and truly become a minority government.
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