POLITICS

No Quick Fixes For The Greens Citizenship Stuff Up

The PM has little sympathy for politicians who are dual citizens.

19/07/2017 11:02 AM AEST | Updated 19/07/2017 11:22 AM AEST
AAP Image/Dan Peled
Malcolm Turnbull has described Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam as "careless".

CANBERRA -- There'll be no quick, or even near term, fixes for the Greens citizenship stuff up with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull firmly against allowing dual citizens to become federal politicians.

The Greens are reeling after two of their leading lights, co-deputy leaders Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, were forced to resign over the past week for failing to do their constitutional duty and renounce the citizenship of another country before standing for parliament.

Both have taken full responsibility for the serious oversight and have immediately resigned, although the repercussions still need to go through the High Court.

In Waters' case, which stunned political circles on Tuesday, her dual Canadian-Australian citizenship may very likely lead to the return of former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett as he was number two on the Greens Senate ticket at the last election.

The Prime Minister is not about to change things.

"It is in the Constitution, so you know it would be a big deal to change it," he told Adelaide radio 5AA on Wednesday.

"But frankly, I think if you are a member of the Australian parliament you should be a citizen of only one country and that's our country."

Still, Turnbull was incredulous, describing Waters and Ludlam as 'careless'.

"It is extraordinary that two out of nine greens senators made that mistake," he said. "It is not as though it is a secret. It is in the Constitution.

"When you nominate for Parliament there is actually a question that says, please confirm and tick the box and confirm that you are not in breach of Section 44, and there are various provisions that are set out there."

Although there has been a little touch of sympathy from an unlikely quarter.

The soon to be Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has described the situation for Waters and Ludlam as 'sad'.

There's been a chorus of overseas-born politicians, including Tony Abbott, Mathias Cormann and Ian Goodenough, confirming that they had renounced foreign citizenship, but Turnbull indicated there's work still underway.

"Everyone who was born overseas is checking that they don't have dual citizenship," he said.

The loss of Waters and Ludlam caps off a rough period for the Greens, after infighting over schools policy led to the temporary suspension of NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon from the party room.

"It's been a shocking few weeks, no sugar-coating it, Leigh, it's been shocking," Greens Leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC's 730.

"I've got members and supporters who I suspect will be feeling like many of us -- they'll be frustrated, they'll be disappointed. Many of our members, supporters and indeed, voters, will be reeling right now."

But asked if his party was in disarray, Di Natale defiantly insisted, "No".

The Greens are now beginning a "root and branch" review of party processes, including the way candidates are vetted.

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