Fit for service

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.

AN article this week claiming that Australian Jewish MPs could be caught in the ongoing citizenship saga has been blown out of the water by the same academic that was relied on as a basis for the story.

In a lead article this Monday, the news and opinion website Crikey quoted a comment that Mary Crock, professor of public law at The University of Sydney gave The Daily Telegraph, stating that section 44 “covers both people with a present entitlement, who are currently citizens, but also people who could be entitled to citizenship if they applied”.

Section 44 of the Constitution disqualifies a person from sitting in the Australian Parliament if they are a “subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

Drawing on Crock’s comment and referencing Israel’s Law of Return, the piece went on to question the status of Jewish parliamentarians, naming in particular Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg, and Labor MPs Mark Dreyfus and Michael Danby.

However, The AJN contacted Crock and she said the Crikey article was wrong to suggest Jewish MPs should be concerned.

“The Right of Return is a right to apply for citizenship, not a right of citizenship,” she asserted. “There is no doubt in my mind that they would not be caught by this.”

Citizenship expert Professor Kim Rubenstein, who serves as director of the Centre for International and Public Law at Australian National University’s College of Law, concurred, telling The AJN that “people entitled to apply for citizenship are not caught under section 44”.

She added, “It is about existing rights of citizenship (which crucially enable a state to demand obligations of their citizens)”, hence Jewish MPs are not impacted.

The sentiment was echoed by Jewish Members of Parliament themselves when contacted by The AJN.

They stressed that they were Australian citizens, had never sought citizenship of other countries and that Israel’s Right of Return was different to the right of citizenship.