Former Nationals Senator for Queensland Questions Pauline Hanson’s Citizenship
According to an article on SMH.COM.AU by Former Queensland Senator Bill O’Chee the citizenship saga in Canberra has exposed some of Australia’s politicians as being negligent and arrogant at best, while showing others in an even less flattering light. But it is not over yet, not by a long shot.
The deadline for federal politicians to disclose their parents and grandparents is now December 1. This will expose not just those who may have inherited dual nationality from their parents, but also those who have applied for, and may continue to enjoy, the right to live in another country.
One of those potentially left hanging out on a limb is none other than anti-immigration senator, Pauline Hanson.
Hanson’s problems come following one of her signature dummy spits in 2010. After failing four times to get re-elected, she decided to pack her bags, and told Woman’s Day she was migrating to the United Kingdom, whence her grandparents had originated.
The following day the real estate agent tasked with selling her house claimed that the story was wrong, and that she was not leaving the country for good. This prompted an extraordinary joint statement by Woman’s Day and Hanson herself.
“Yes, I am planning on going indefinitely … I am leaving Australia and will be gone for the foreseeable future,” Ms Hanson said in the statement.
I will be relocating to the United Kingdom.”
In November that year she was back in Australia again, saying that “I love England but so many people want to leave there because it’s overrun with immigrants and refugees”. Apparently the irony of her statement was completely lost on her, although I know many Brits would would leave the country if she was to migrate there too.
The problem for Hanson is that it is not just people who are dual nationals who are precluded from being elected to Parliament. Section 44 of the Constitution also applies to people who are “entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.” That specifically applies to people who have a right of abode in another country.
For Hanson, that means she must now answer questions about her migration plans, and whether she applied for and received a certificate of entitlement.
A standard visa would allows Australians to visit for a maximum of six months, which is well short of “going indefinitely”. However UK law entitles people other than just citizens to reside in the country under a certificate of entitlement.
At the beginning of this year, she denied she was a dual national, although as usual her denial was more like a half-denial, with enough ambiguity to hide a battleship. What she didn’t deny was whether she had applied for a certificate of entitlement.
There would be one simple and easy way for Hanson to clear the air once and for all. Details of people who have applied for a certificate of entitlement are on a register in the United Kingdom. She could ask the UK government to disclose if she has ever been on the register.
One thing is for sure. While is is possible for someone to “accidentally” be a dual national, it is not possible to “accidentally” acquire a certificate of entitlement. It can only come about by application.
I am glad that the true intent of our Constitution is being given effect. It is about time.
As a person who has a penchant for literally, and tastelessly, draping herself in the Australian flag, I am sure that Senator Hanson would be only too delighted to lay the record bare.
With the Queensland election days away, she should have done this already. If she still refuses to do so, people should judge her accordingly.
Bill O’Chee is a former Nationals Senator for Queensland.