06 November 2017








SUBJECT: Citizenship.


BELINDA VARISCHETTI, INTERVIEWER: Anne Aly is the Federal Member for Cowan. Anne Aly, will Labor support the PM’s proposal?

ANNE ALY, MEMBER FOR COWAN: Well good afternoon Belinda, I think it’s important to see what that proposal is and what the details of the proposal are. And I know that Bill Shorten is keen to meet with the Prime Minister. We’ve been asking that the Prime Minister and the Government do something about this for some time and we put forward our proposal which was flatly rejected by Malcolm Turnbull. He’s now come around and said that he wants to look at a process. We’re keen to hear what that process is and we’ll be having those discussions-- Bill Shorten will be having those discussions-- fairly shortly I imagine.

INTERVIEWER: Another development today with Liberal MP John Alexander making the inquiries to find out whether he’s a British citizen by descent. His father born in the UK. But Mr Alexander believes he renounced his citizenship after he migrated to Australia. But it just keeps rolling on--

ALY: Keeps coming up, doesn’t it?

INTERVIEWER: So are you-- do you think an audit is still warranted?

ALY: I don’t know that we need an audit. I still think that this is something that should fall squarely on the shoulders on each individual member. It is not hard to figure out what your citizenship status is and to renounce it if possible. I find it actually really disappointing that people are coming out of the woodwork now when this has been an issue that has been at the fore for many many months, and now, just now, are asking the question about their citizenship when they’ve known all along that they’ve had a parent who was born overseas which may mean that they are ineligible to sit. So I don’t know if an audit is the answer. At the end of the day, the only people who can decide whether or not somebody has breached the constitution is the High Court. Malcolm Turnbull can’t decide it. Writing some kind of statement saying ‘I know’ or ‘I believe I know what my citizenship status is’ can’t solve this. So we need a transparent process that clarifies once and for all to the Australian public that the people sitting in Parliament are eligible to sit in Parliament.

INTERVIEWER: Why that continual reluctance about that audit? Which would, you know, there’s a lot of people pointing towards it. That would absolutely clear anything up.

ALY: I think it comes down to the detail of the process, Belinda. Which I think is why, you know, I for one am keen to hear what the process for that Malcolm Turnbull is proposing now. Because I’d like to think that any process that’s taken is going to end this once and for all. If you have an audit and you bring in an auditor to do it – it really doesn’t matter what you call it whether it’s an audit, or some kind of transparent process – what are the next steps to that? Who decides who gets to be referred to the High Court? Who gets to decide these things? I think this is more what the issue is. It’s: what is the process that would end this once and for all? It may be an audit – you can call it an audit – it may be something completely different, but I don’t think we need to get bogged down with a particular process or a particular terminology. I think we need to explore all options and the most effective option for having this finalised once and for all, so that the Australian people can have full confidence in their leaders.

INTERVIEWER: Anne Aly are you concerned there are still more members of Parliament that are ineligible?

ALY: Look, I thought this was done and dusted.  And apparently it’s not! So every day there seems to be someone else who has neglected to question whether or not they are eligible for dual citizenship or they have dual citizenship. So while I continue to remain optimistic, it seems that optimism of mine has been challenged time and time again. I would hope not. But then, who knows? I mean, we knew nothing about Stephen Parry and to think that he knew and he sat there the whole time while this was going through the High Court, while all of this was happening in the High Court, but even now John Alexander. If he knows that his father was born overseas why would you sit on that this whole time? Why are people asking now?

INTERVIEWER: Is it just a matter of time before a Labor MP gets caught up in this saga?

ALY: Well I know that we have very, very strong vetting processes, having been through it myself. I would imagine that everybody else that went through the process, went through as rigorous a process in terms of proving to the Labor leadership that they had renounced their citizenship. So I would imagine that every other candidate went through exactly the same process that I did. And if that was the case I’d be confident that there would be no Labor people.

INTERVIEWER: Is Labor’s aim here to force the Government to an early election by triggering another by-election?

ALY: I think Labor’s aim here is just to have this cleared up. It’s been going on way too long. It is undermining people’s faith and trust in Parliamentarians. And that damages us all.

INTERVIEWER: Anne Aly, thank you for your time today.

ALY: Thank you so much Belinda.