NZ citizenship - an offer you can't refuse?

Chur bro?

Chur bro?

It is entirely a matter for Australia to determine whatever damned-fool rules it wishes to have about the citizenship requirements for its MPs.

As things stand, the rule is snortworthy. It's not simply that a member of Parliament must be a citizen of Australia. It's also that they cannot be a citizen of another country.

Like, say, New Zealand. We needn't take that personally. It's just that back in the day, it struck the lawmakers that Jack cannot serve two masters.

It might seem, to us and to more than a few Aussies, a jocular matter that deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has found his career imperilled because his dad was born in Dunedin and, under the rules that applied at the time, that automatically affords him citizenship here too. Whether or not he knows about it, let alone wants it.

READ MORE: Citizenship furore

Technically this could mean not only that Joyce loses his representative status, but also that this would deprive the Government of its majority.

That is by no means a given, for the very good reason that to invoke the rule would be a decision better suited to a Pharisee than a democratic representative who has the rights of Australian electors in mind. 

But then it's far from ideal, either, that lawmakers are effectively required to regard their own constitution with one eye closed and head askance, in order to find a more sane way of seeing things than the obvious and, at the time, intentional one.

For his part, Joyce has fingered NZ Labour's Chris Hipkins as the one who landed him in it. Hipkins, having spoken to an Australian Labor party insider, raised the question in our Parliament about whether someone whose father is a New Zealander is automatically a citizen.

It was a general question and Hipkins can try to portray it as motivated by curiosity at the New Zealand end of things, but there's little point denying he was being clever-clever.

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So now it's simultaneously true that Joyce is thinking "thanks a bunch" and Hipkins is on the naughty spot with his own party leader, not to mention Prime Minister Bill English, for his meddlesome ways, even though the Department of Internal Affairs acknowledges it was Australian media interest, not the airy wonderings young Hipkins, that prompted its investigation into Joyce's status.

New Zealanders, meanwhile, mightn't like the idea that citizenship  to our country attaches to people whose hearts lie elsewhere, regardless of how they might feel about it. As if it's junk mail that cannot be returned.

So could there not be a "thanks anyway" opt-out provision?

 - Stuff


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