Barnaby Joyce's Citizenship Shambles




SUBJECT: Barnaby Joyce

TONY ARTHUR:  The opposition was giving it to the government yesterday in question time, but it looks like the government is going to turn that around and retaliate against Labor's attempts to exploit the crisis over the deputy Prime Minister. So is Labor on solid ground? Stephen Jones is the federal member for Whitlam. Stephen Jones, good morning.

STEPHEN JONES: Good morning. Good to be with you.


TONY ARTHUR: How confident is the Labor party that you're not going to end up in the same condition or state as the government?

STEPHEN JONES: We're extremely confident in our processes. We takes the bars that are set out in section 44 of the constitution very seriously. This isn't a new section, this isn't something that has crept up on people. It has been known since at least 1991, some would argue five years earlier than that, that there is a very high and strict test. It's not just whether you are a foreign citizen, it's whether you're entitled to be or have the rights of a foreign citizen, that preclude you from federal office. 

Clearly the deputy Prime Minister of the country hasn't done his basic homework. And I'm not surprised that people are very, very upset with his sloppiness and not doing the basic homework. He's not a new member of parliament, he's not a junior member of parliament, he's the second most senior person in the parliament.

TONY ARTHUR: You say you're confident, yet Labor's been challenged to release the information and/or legal advice you've had regarding five MPs in particular. Why won't Mr Shorten release that information?

STEPHEN JONES: Well I think a lot of this will come into the fore over the coming months, But let me be very, very clear about the process we go through. When I nominate, each and every time that I've nominated, and every Labor candidate and senate candidate nominates, we fill out a form about the size of a small phone book. Not only do we have to declare where I was born, where my parents were born, and where their parents were born. And if you trip any wire, if you declare that in any of those layers you were born overseas, you get a team of lawyers on your doorstep asking you to provide certificates of renunciation. That's why I can be very, very confident in our process because I've been through it myself and I know each and every one of my colleagues are. Like I said, this is not a new section of the constitution. We've known about it for ever.

TONY ARTHUR: Should Barnaby Joyce step down? Do a Matt Canavan and step down from cabinet positions but not resign until the High Court rules on his eligibility?

STEPHEN JONES: Well, I think that's the sensible compromise. I'm not saying he should resign from parliament, but in a parliament where every vote is contingent on one single MP, we're passing bills into law now with Barnaby Joyce voting for them. Not small things, things like banking industry royal commissions, penalty rate cuts, pension cuts, media deregulation - these are things that are going to last forever. If Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to be casting that vote, a lot of people are going to be asking themselves, well were those laws validly passed? And I think that is a very good question. He should step down from his official functions. He can retain his representative roles, but he should step down from his official functions until this issue is resolved. 

And let’s not forget, when Malcolm Turnbull leaves the country as he will between now and Christmas on official duties, Barnaby Joyce is the acting-Prime Minister of this country. So it's not a small thing.