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Hinch citizenship referral a ‘waste of time’

Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House Canberra on Thursday 22 June 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House Canberra on Thursday 22 June 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares
Nanjing Night Net

Independent senator Derryn Hinch will attempt to refer himself to the High Court over fears he may be ineligible to sit in Parliament but not even his biggest opponents think he has a case to answer.

Senator Hinch told reporters in north Queensland of his plan to refer himself after it was revealed he held a social security number in the United States, and had previously received an American pension.

He confirmed he had never received United States citizenship and only received the pension after paying an additional tax for the decade he spent in America, working for Fairfax Media. He stopped the payments once he was sworn in to the Senate in 2016.

Senator Hinch said there was potential he had fallen foul of an “entitlement” clause within section 44 of the constitution and planned to have it tested in the High Court.

But his motion will struggle to receive the necessary numbers, with government sources questioning the validity of Senator Hinch’s concerns.

Labor has not considered whether or not it would support any referral motion, but a source said the party “shared the government’s view that it was a waste of time”.

Senator Hinch had planned to seek the Solicitor-General’s advice, a process which would first require writing to Attorney-General George Brandis with a request.

The seven MPs – including three government ministers – who have been found to be dual citizens each sought independent legal advice before making their referrals.

Almost 10 per cent of senators have been referred to the High Court over their eligibility to sit in Parliament. But on Thursday former prime minister John Howard called for calm.

“My view about this is nobody is to blame and I think trying to apportion blame, and people running around and saying ‘oh you knew about this’, or ‘you should have known’, I think that is silly,” he told ABC radio.

“Let’s just draw a deep breath, accept that this is a case that years ago, when the constitution was written, if you lived in Canada or Britain or New Zealand etc, you didn’t have a separate nationality, we were all subjects of the British Empire, there was no Australian nationality until 1948.

“We just have to let it work its way through and accept that the High Court will rule and whatever the High Court decides, that’s the law, because we live by the rule of law.

“But I don’t think it is a crisis for Australian democracy and I am frankly surprised people are running around trying to apportion partisan blame, I don’t think it is a case for that.”

The High Court will examine the issue in October.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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