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‘Who Can Be an MP? The Constitution, the High Court and the Disqualification Farce’

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, Graeme Orr, delivered the 2017 MinterEllison Sir Harry Gibbs Lecture for The University of Queensland Law School on Monday, 16 October.

Professor Orr gave his lecture on “Who Can Be an MP? The Constitution, the High Court and the Disqualification Farce”. He addressed such questions as: ‘Should electors be able to elect any fellow elector? Or should there be constitutional barriers to potential MPs? Are such barriers workable, and what are their impacts on minor party candidates especially?’

The public lecture was recorded, and below you can find a link to the audio recording and video of presentation slides.

The dual citizenship saga shows our Constitution must be changed, and now

Joe McIntyre writes in The Conversation (17.11.17) that, in the wake of further referrals of possibly ineligible MPs to the High Court, changing the Constitution is the only way to draw a line under this ‘chaos’.

‘It is time to accept that Section 44 of the Australian Constitution is irretrievably broken. In its current form, it is creating chaos that is consuming our politicians. This presents a rare opportunity for constitutional change. A referendum could address not only the citizenship issue but the entirety of Section 44, which no longer looks fit for purpose.

‘The “brutal literalism” adopted by the High Court means that there can be no quick or stable resolution to the citizenship saga consuming the national political class.

‘Even a thorough “audit” of current politicians, such as the deal announced this week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will offer only a temporary respite. Not only can it be extremely difficult to determine if someone has foreign citizenship, the agreed disclosures will not capture all potential issues (for example, it only extends back to grandparents).

‘Moreover, as foreign citizenship is dependent on foreign law, a foreign court decision or legislation may subsequently render a person ineligible.

‘This issue will continue to dog all future parliaments.’

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