Ok, I may be missing something here.
Earlier today, the Turnbull government has just released legal advice that Labor’s Justine Keay and Susan Lamb, Xenopohon team MP Rebekah Sharkie were ineligible at the time of nomination because, while they’d sent off documents renouncing their British citizenship this wasn’t processed before they nominated.
Then, a little while ago, John Alexander tells us that he thinks that he may have British citizenship rights and, consequently, would be resigning and re-contesting his seat.
Mm, timelines will be interesting here. Given that the government is arguing that merely filling in the paperwork isn’t enough, that the British need to have actually processed it, what sort of time line are we looking at here.
Assuming that Mr Alexander’s resignation is effective immediately, that means the government needs to have a by-election. If the Speaker decides to hold it this year, then it’s a pretty tight timeline. Even if John Alexander dashes down and fills in papers on Monday, if we accept the legal advice that Talcum Malcolm is peddling, then he’ll need to have his application processed pretty quickly or he’ll miss the nomination because it’s not enough to simply renounce your citizenship; the British have to finish processing it. And surely the government wouln’t try to pressure them to speed up the application at the same time as arguing that people whose forms weren’t done in time can’t sit. Surely!
Once the Speaker announces the date of the election, there’s not a lot of time at Mr Alexander’s disposal. The AEC tells us:
“Candidates may not lodge nominations until after the writ for the election has been issued. The date fixed for the close of nominations must be at least 10 days, but not more than 27 days after the issue of the writ.
Nominations must be made before 12 noon on the day nominations close. Nominations will be declared 24 hours after close of nominations.”
Of course, John Alexander’s situation puts the government in a bit of dilemma. Because there’s no obligation on the Speaker to call the by-election any time soon, he could delay it to give Alexander time to sort out his paperwork. The Speaker might believe that it’s too close to Christmas. He could say that we might as well wait because a general election is likely to be needed soon. However, if the Speaker decides to do that, the government will be another vote down in the House of Representatives and Barnaby won’t return until December (presuming he wins).
Given that the Turnbull government allowed Barnaby to continue as Deputy PM, it’ll be hard to argue that the three MPs in doubt shouldn’t vote while their status is decided by the High Court. And, of course, if you accept that argument, then surely all the Liberals with concerns, such as Julia Banks and Nola Marino, should also refrain from voting.
But then this is the Turnbull government we’re talking about and, as I’m sure you’re aware, consistency hasn’t been their strong point.
Actually, I’m having trouble working out what their strong point is, but we’ll let that pass.