Updated May 17, 2018 14:16:13>
> Photo: The committee says Australian people should be given the choice. (ABC News)
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The nation should be forced to vote on changes to the constitution to ensure more Australians can run for Parliament and the electoral system is not manipulated, according to a bipartisan parliamentary committee.
But will it actually happen?
Not any time soon, that's for sure.
How did we get here?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered the review of section 44 of the constitution in October last year, after the High Court ruled the elections of then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and four other politicians at the 2016 election were invalid.
During this term of Parliament, the provision has brought down 15 parliamentarians over its dual citizenship ban, and another two politicians have also been felled over their criminal history and financial dealings.
Hang on, what does section 44 do?
Section 44 of the constitution contains a range of disqualifications for prospective politicians:
- They can't be dual citizens
- They can't have a criminal conviction against their name, or be awaiting sentencing for an offence that carries a term of imprisonment
- They can't be bankrupt
- They can't hold a publicly funded job
- They can't have any financial interests with the Commonwealth
What's the argument for change?
The parliamentary committee, chaired by West Australian Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, says section 44 doesn't accurately reflect the changing face of Australia.
The committee's report, titled Excluded — The impact of section 44 on Australian democracy, recommended that parliament be given the power to decide who should be disqualified from public office.
The committee has put forward a heap of hypothetical scenarios where Australians might be ruled out of running for parliament — Indigenous Australians who were part of the Stolen Generation and can't trace their family history, and local business owners who have contracts with government departments.
There are different options for a referendum: scrapping the list of disqualifications altogether, or putting in the words "until the Parliament otherwise provides" to allow members and senators to make their own rules if and when needed.
So a referendum will happen?
Not any time soon. And there's a few reasons for that:
- It's too close to the five by-elections we're waiting for, and the imminent federal election — so it couldn't be sorted by then.
- The committee, and the Government, argue there needs to be time for the community to debate the issue, particularly if there's a need to convince the public that this isn't solely aimed at trying to protect politicians.
- Constitutional change never happens quickly in Australia. There have been 44 referendum questions put to the Australian public, but only eight have been successful.
Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann said the Government wasn't "inclined to pursue" a referendum at this stage.>
>Video: Here's the committee's case for a referendum, presented by its chair Linda Reynolds (ABC News)
"It is going to take a long time, I think, for these discussions to be had in the Australian community, and for the community to form a point of view," Senator Reynolds told the ABC.
"Clearly, the preconditions don't yet exist for a referendum, which is why we're calling for the Government to implement temporary measures to ensure that at the next by-elections, and at the general election, that we don't have the possibility of referrals to the High Court."
What are those 'temporary measures'?
Despite not pursuing a referendum, the Federal Government said it would work with the Australian Electoral Commission to improve the candidate nomination process.
"Measures include things like [making] candidates fill out the same paperwork that members of parliament now fill out to certify their citizenship history, and other disqualifications," Senator Reynolds said.
First posted May 17, 2018 09:54:31
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-17/section-44-committee-recommendations-after-citizenship-fiasco/9770606Thanks you for read my article Parliamentary Committee Recommends Referendum After Dual Citizenship Fiasco