s44 of the Constitution continues to give and give and give. It seems that there will have to be some sort of audit of our elected Parliamentarians to determine if they are eligible to have been elected under the Constitution.
We are now being treated to all sorts of interesting arguments as to why this can’t or shouldn’t happen.
Step up Mathias Cormann:
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told ABC’s 7.30 that the separation of powers meant the government, or executive arm, could not impose an audit on the parliament, or legislative arm, over a matter properly in the realm of the High Court, or judicial arm.
I’m going to call “Bullshit” on this. But first let me digress by commenting on the post title. Audit the Parliament sounds much more catchy than audit the MPs. The executive arm would not be imposing an audit of the Parliament – it would be auditing the process whereby people are elected to the Parliament. There is now sufficient doubt in the integrity of that process. The High Court has no investigative power and relies on the executive branch to undertake investigations. Ensuring that the people elected to Parliament are eligible under the Constitution to be in the Parliament is not an executive coup d’etat. If the executive were to begin rounding up opposition MPs to increase its own majority, that would be problem. This isn’t. To the contrary the executive has found that its own members are in breach of the Constitution.
Step up Paul Kelly:
The truth is nobody has a clue how an audit would work, who would conduct it, the basis of its authority, whether it would be established by legislation or executive action and exactly what it would achieve.
Okay. Here is a working model of how it could work. There may be others – this is just a suggestion.
Candidates for public office get to sign a document (IIRC a stat dec) that states they are eligible for election. That document is administered by the Australian Electoral Commission. I cannot think of a single reason why the AEC wouldn’t then conduct the audit. It does seem a bit strange that you would solicit information but never actually check up that people have told the truth when providing that information. If only other government agencies worked on that principle.
So I can imagine questions along these lines:
- Were you born in Australia? If no – provide evidence that you have renounced your foreign citizenship, or have made a reasonable effort to do so, or that your country of birth has stripped you of citizenship due to you becoming an Australian citizen. If yes go to question 2.
- Were both your parents and all your grandparents born in Australia? If not, are you automatically entitled to foreign citizenship? If yes, please provide evidence that you have renounced your foreign citizenship, or have made a reasonable effort to do so.
Now it’s not hard. In answer to Paul Kelly’s questions:
The truth is nobody has a clue how an audit would work
See my modest suggestion above.
who would conduct it
The Australian Electoral Commission
the basis of its authority
No doubt the AEC has an Act that it administers and the Constitution
whether it would be established by legislation or executive action
Moot question given answer above
and exactly what it would achieve.
It would restore public confidence that MPs are actually compliant with the law of the land. A trivial concern to be sure, hardly worthy of time and effort, I understand, but perhaps our friends in Canberra could indulge us. You know, the little people who pay the taxes, that allows them to live the lives of idle luxury that they seem to enjoy so much.
Update: I have neglected the case where MPs may have voluntarily acquired foreign citizenship. But that too isn’t hard to find out.