Senate debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Suspension of Standing Orders

10:52 am

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

The Labor Party really has no shame. For months Bill Shorten misled the Australian people into believing that everything was fine inside the Labor Party: 'We have this perfect vetting system. We know that none of our members and senators have any problems at all.' We now know that that was a lie. We now know that Bill Shorten is nothing more than a dishonest, sanctimonious hypocrite. We now know that not only were there Labor members and senators that were dual citizens when they nominated for the last election—even though they certified on their nomination form that went to the Electoral Commission that they were not—but also there are people on the Labor side that are still dual citizens today.

On the coalition side, same as the Greens, when it became clear some of our members and senators were in possession of information that indicated that there was a citizenship problem, people came into this chamber and took action: Senator Canavan resigned from the ministry and referred himself to the High Court; Senator Nash referred herself to the High Court; John Alexander resigned; and Stephen Parry, former President of the Senate, resigned. Throughout all that time Bill Shorten was holding out. Now he's saying, 'Because we're now having an another batch of referrals, in order to keep it fair, even and bipartisan, not only should we be referring Labor members and senators that have clearly demonstrated problems with their citizenship status but we should also be referring people who manifestly do not have citizenship problems.'

Yesterday the Manager of Opposition Business put forward a motion listing people like Nola Marino, even though Nola Marino had advice from the government of Italy that she is not, and never has been, an Italian citizen. They wanted to refer Alex Hawke, even though he had advice that he isn't, and never has been, a Greek citizen. Incidentally, that is the same advice on which the Labor Party relies not to refer Tanya Plibersek. We are not suggesting that Tanya Plibersek should be referred, incidentally, but all she relies on is advice from the Slovenian embassy, which indicates that she was never a Slovenian citizen.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If the Labor Party is now suggesting that, despite and in defiance of official evidence from a foreign government that somebody is not a citizen of that country, we should still refer them—on the basis of what? What have we got on the Labor side? We have got Justine Keay, the member for Braddon, and Josh Wilson, the member for Fremantle, who are in the precisely the same position as Senator Gallagher.

I've got a lot of sympathy at a human level for Senator Katy Gallagher. I like her a lot. I'm disappointed for her, as I was disappointed for former Senator Nash and as I was disappointed for all of my other colleagues. Senator Kakoschke-Moore, Senator Ludlam, Senator Waters—I was disappointed for all of them. The truth is there is no difference in status between Senator Gallagher and the member for Braddon and the member for Fremantle.

Even worse, David Feeney clearly is still today a British citizen. If he had any honour, if he had any decency, he would have made the same decision as John Alexander and resigned. The only reason he hasn't resigned is because Labor knows that they would lose the seat to the Greens. That's why he's not resigning. This is backfiring on Bill Shorten at 100 miles an hour.

And then we've got Susan Lamb. She is in precisely the same position as former Senator Malcolm Roberts. She sent the wrong information to the wrong people at the wrong time, which is why the renunciation of her British citizenship was not effective. And Labor, as it always does, wants to muddy the waters. Bill Shorten has held out for months, lying to the Australian people, saying, 'We don't have any problems.' Guess what? You tell me—it's a matter of public record now: Bill Shorten knew for more than a week that David Feeney had a citizenship problem. What did he do? Nothing.


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