Labor MPs at odds over Frydenberg citizenship questions

Stuck in the middle: Labor MPs Michael Danby (far left) and Mark Dreyfus (far right) are at odds over questioning the citizenship of Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg (centre). Photo: Eldad Ohayon.

Joshua Levi

A WAR of words erupted between Labor MPs today when Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus called for Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg, among others, to disclose legal advice about his citizenship.

“I want to be clear – I am not singling out Josh Frydenberg in any way,” Dreyfus told The AJN.

“Nor have I called for him to be referred to the High Court – I have simply asked that he adhere to the same standard as everyone else in the Parliament, which is to disclose legal advice where there is any doubt regarding the complex legal questions that can arise in relation to dual citizenship.

“Josh is a friend of mine, and our family history is not dissimilar – with the exception of his roots being in Hungary, and mine in Germany.”

Frydenberg’s mother Erica Strauss was born in Hungary in 1943, at which point in time she was denied Hungarian citizenship because she was Jewish.

However, in the last decade, Hungary has attempted to make amends by unilaterally bestowing citizenship on those Jews who were deemed aliens, together with their offspring.

Two Labor MPs, Michael Danby and Ed Husic, came to Frydenberg’s defence.

“My view is the Dreyfus approach is just political tactics and not cognisant of the wider political, historical and ethical issues,” Danby told The AJN.

“I support Tanya Plibersek earlier view, that the issues around Josh Frydenberg’s mother’s statelessness should not be raised as part of the citizenship debate.”

And Husic said that the community needs to pause to think before pursuing members whose families endured the Holocaust.

‘If we get to the point where we’re pursuing people who were stateless and escaping one of the most horrific episodes in modern history, well I’d be interested to see how far we do pursue this,” he said.

Dreyfus has also been criticised because he is not supplying legal advice on his own citizenship, while calling for Frydenberg, whose mother was born in Hungary, to do the same.

“I know what the law was in Germany during the war, and I know what the law is after the war in Germany. I do after all have some legal qualifications. And it’s very clear to me what happened in the case of my family.”

On Wednesday Dreyfus provided The AJN with several documents showing that his father and grandfather were not German citizens.

Frydenberg declined to comment when contacted by The AJN.