Well would you look at that, the pesky old Section 44 has reared its head once again in the first week of the federal election. Yep, we’ve got ourselves a good old fashioned surprise dual citizen who’s had to resign for breaching the constitution. You hate to see it.
Western Australian Liberal senator Ben Small is the most recent political casualty of that unassuming bit of the Australian constitution. Ahh Section 44 — a truly ruthless predator of parliament.
Small put out a statement to confirm his resignation on Friday, claiming that he had always thought he had “no entitlement to New Zealand citizenship” but found out last week he very much did have those entitlements.
Section 44 strikes again. Liberal senator Ben Small resigns over him being a dual citizen pic.twitter.com/Z9PxXNccr4— Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) April 15, 2022
“My resignation is the result of me becoming aware that I was, until recently, a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand,” his statement read.
“I was born in Perth in 1988 and have always been an Australian Citizen. At the time of my birth, my mother was an Australian Citizen and my father, who was born in New Zealand, was an Australian Permanent Resident.
“I had always understood that I had no entitlement to New Zealand citizenship based on the laws that applied at the time of my birth.”
If you’ve forgotten about the 2017 knifing from Section 44 — which saw 15 (!!!) Federal-level politicians ruled ineligible after going “oh shit I still have that other citizenship aye” — let us revisit what it all means.
Section 44 of the constitution is all about who is actually eligible to be elected into parliament, and lists what would disqualify someone from being eligible.
The very first thing listed in this section is “allegiance to a foreign power”, which means anyone with a dual citizenship — like old mate Benno here — or is entitled rights or privileges from another country is restricted from being a candidate in Federal Parliament.
But don’t worry, Small stressed that he’ll be back to campaign as a candidate once he gets that pesky New Zealand citizenship done with. Just gotta actually actually cross his T’s and dot his I’s.
You’d think everyone in federal politics would have learned by now, wouldn’t you.