SUSSAN Ley does not believe a citizenship audit of federal MPs is needed, but admits the crisis surrounding the status of politicians is “not a good set of circumstances”.
The Nigerian-born member for Farrer’s party, the Liberals, became embroiled in the citizenship drama this week when Senate president Stephen Parry resigned after revealing he had dual ties.
It followed seven other current and former MPs going to the High Court over their citizenship.
Ms Ley admitted the situation did not engender public confidence in politicians.
“I agree it’s not a good set of circumstances for any of us to be in as politicians because the public makes their judgement on all of us, not as individuals,” she said.
However, Ms Ley does not support an audit.
“On the surface it sounds quite reasonable, but the mechanics are quite complex,” she said.
The former health minster cited claims relating to cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg having Hungarian citizenship through his mother.
“If it’s a matter of a law of another country who would determine that, given we don’t have experts on Hungarian law,” Ms Ley said.
The British-educated MP said politicians should have “nothing to hide”.
“I don’t believe the constitution should be changed, I don’t believe citizenship laws should be changed,” Ms Ley said.
“I was born overseas and it took me a few months and several hundred dollars to renounce my citizenship, but it’s an incredible privilege to sit in the Australian parliament and to divest yourself of any other allegiances (is proper).”
Member for Indi Cathy McGowan repeated her call, first made in August, to have citizenship audited via it being included in the registration of politicians’ interests.
“This is important work that must be done as a matter of urgency to restore trust in the system,” Ms McGowan said.
“I call on the government to bring forward debate on the motion tabled 15 August 2017.”
It urged a clause be added to the register referring to “the citizenship status of the Member, the Member’s parents and grandparents, and evidence of reasonable steps taken to renounce foreign nationality by the Member”.
Meanwhile, Ms Ley yesterday visited Henty to give $5000 to the town’s men’s shed as part of $5.1 million being showered on such centres across Australia. It will be used to install a concrete slab and improve storage.
Mount Beauty’s men’s shed also received $5000 in the same round of funding.
It will fund a dust extraction collection system that includes weatherproofing.