SOLUTION: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd is questioning the relevance of Section 44 to today's multicultural Australia.
SOLUTION: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd is questioning the relevance of Section 44 to today's multicultural Australia. Tegan Annett

O'Dowd checked Aussie citizenship 'to be sure, to be sure'

FLYNN MP Ken O'Dowd has called for a re-think of the controversial section of the Constitution which has seen six MPs and Senators resign or be removed from office in just four months.

While confirming he is not and has never been a citizen of any country other than Australia, Mr O'Dowd said the public had "had enough" of the ongoing uncertainty over the eligibility of their elected representatives.

"It's gone on long enough and people just want to see it fixed once and for all or we will have this hounding every parliamentarian forever and a day," he said.

The leader and deputy leader of the National Party, with whom LNP member Mr O'Dowd sits in Parliament, were both found by the High Court last month to have been ineligible at the time of their election.

Now-former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is currently running again for his seat of New England in a by-election, while former Senator Fiona Nash has ruled out a political comeback barring any short-term way for her to re-enter parliament.

Mr O'Dowd said he respected the decision of the High Court and felt deeply for his colleagues.

"However, the issue here goes beyond the current group of MPs and Senators of the 45th Parliament of Australia," he said.

"Looking retrospectively at the previous parliaments, it's quite clear there were previous sitting members, including (several) Prime Ministers, who may have been found to be ineligible had their citizenship been tested in the same manner.

"The real issue here is not the illegibility of the current MPs and Senators, the issue is the relevance of Section 44 of the constitution with respect to the acknowledgement of allegiance or citizenship of a foreign power, and whether this is a true reflection of today's multicultural Australian society."

Both Mr O'Dowd's parents were born in Australia and never held citizenship of any other country, he said.

"Some months ago, I double-checked my birth certificate to be sure, to be sure," he said.

 

DOUBLE-CHECKED: Neither of Ken O'Dowd's parents were born overseas or held any other citizenship, but he checked his birth certificate just
DOUBLE-CHECKED: Neither of Ken O'Dowd's parents were born overseas or held any other citizenship, but he checked his birth certificate just "to be sure, to be sure." Tegan Annett

Mr O'Dowd's comments came as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called for a bipartisan approach to the issue, in the form of establishing a process for universal disclosure of citizenship to parliament.

The Australian Greens have also been calling for an audit into the citizenship of all MPs and Senators since former WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam kicked off the crisis by resigning in July.

But Mr O'Dowd said while an audit might answer some questions, he did not know "if anyone could guarantee it would answer all questions."


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