Junior Liberal MP Alex Hawke is yet another in a long, long line of Aussie parliamentarians to face questions about possible dual citizenship, and has come out strongly this weekend to deny claims that he may have been ineligible for election.
Assistant immigration minister Hawke was born in Wollongong, but per a Daily Telegraph report, his mother was born in Greece, and a person acquires Greek citizenship at birth “if said person is born to a parent of Greek nationality.”
While this is the case, Greek citizens also need to be registered in the Records of Municipality of the Hellenic Republic, and Hawke says he has never done or attempted to do this, meaning that he could not be a dual citizen.
He told the Telegraph: “I am an Australian citizen only and have never held or acquired or sought Greek or any other citizenship.”
The Australian government is currently in the midst of a pretty serious eligibility crisis, stemming from Section 44 of the Constitution, which prohibits a member of either house of federal parliament from holding an allegiance to a foreign power.
A recent High Court ruling held that five politicians – deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, Nationals senator Fiona Nash and Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters – were ineligible for election under section 44.
With Alex Hawke merely the latest in a long line of parliamentarians to face a grilling, there have been calls for a citizenship audit of federal politicians, although PM Malcolm Turnbull has rejected the idea. He called it “unworkable” and warned of a “national witch hunt”, adding:
“Are we saying that we would propose to have somebody interrogate each and every member and senator, examine their genealogy, seek to uncover facts about their parentage that may not even be known to the member or senator?”
He went on to defend the status quo, saying:
“The constitution is very clear, every member and every senator has an obligation to comply with it. The High Court has clarified the meaning of Section 44 in respect of dual citizenship and it is up to senators and members to satisfy themselves they are in compliance.”