Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Interview: Tom Iggulden, Political Correspondent -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

JEREMY FERNANDEZ: Well, could it be happening again?

Yet another politician looks like they may have run into difficulties with constitutional rules about citizenship. This time it's One Nation's turn. Their Queensland Senator, Malcolm Roberts, has had to explain himself tonight.

I'm joined by political correspondent Tom Iggulden who is in Canberra.

Tom, Senator Roberts has just been on commercial television to address growing doubts about his citizenship status. What did he have to say?

TOM IGGULDEN, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he laid out a time line, Jeremy and he presented some documents which it must be said a lot of us in Canberra have been asking for, for a number of days now.

Now let's lay out the time line as he did.

May 1, which is at the start of last year's election campaign, he wrote to the British consulate, obviously concerned that his citizenship status could be a problem. Now he says he wrote several times and made several contacts, heard nothing in reply.

So in early June bearing in mind this is getting very close to the July 2nd election last year, he then wrote again and formally renounced his citizenship if he had that citizenship. He wasn't sure whether he did or not, he thinks he doesn't.

He didn't hear a response back from the consulate until December the 1st.

Now importantly that's after the election but it did acknowledge and did certify in fact, that he had renounced his citizenship.

So he's laid all that out tonight. We have finally seen these documents or at least we have heard a lot about these documents, we haven't seen them in person.

He was, of course, asked about why it has taken so long given there have been a couple of weeks of questions about this, Jeremy, for him to present this and here's what he had to say in answer to that question.

MALCOLM ROBERTS, ONE NATION SENATOR: I didn't want to release the documents because you see what the Twitterati do. They just misrepresent some of these things. We have seen that already with other people.

I could see that they'd be doing the same with me.

JEREMY FERNANDEZ: So, Tom, with these revelations tonight, what does that mean for Malcolm Roberts' future in the Senate, is he going to be the next casualty?

TOM IGGULDEN: Well, I don't think he's entirely out of the woods here, Jeremy, to tell the truth. I mean he does have this certificate saying he has renounced his citizenship but the timing could be the problem for him here. Because it's dated after the election, he says he made every reasonable effort to get it done before the election but because it's dated after the election, that registration certificate, it could mean that he was in fact elected while he was still a dual citizen.

As we have seen and indeed as his erstwhile One Nation colleague tonight, Rodney Culleton, has tweeted, the High Court has taken a view that these things can't be done retrospectively. If you were at the time a dual citizen, you can't then renounce it later and still be eligible to sit in the Senate.

So not entirely out of the woods. That said, of course, he has maintained all along that he has renounced his British citizenship and of course, we are assuming that document is true, that certainly is the case as we sit here tonight, Jeremy.

JEREMY FERNANDEZ: Now the former resources minister, Matt Canavan has also been out and about explaining himself today. There are calls for him to resign not just from Cabinet but from the Senate altogether. He's refusing to do that so what happens next?

TOM IGGULDEN: Well, this again is still in the hands of the High Court and I don't suppose there's much that anyone could really do to force him out other than through political pressure until, of course, the High Court has a look at all of that.

Now it is important to say here that Senator Canavan did come out again today, very much sticking by the story that he presented the other day when he resigned from Cabinet. He has the support still in that course of action from the Government and indeed has legal advice saying that's a fair enough thing for him to be doing.

Now in the meantime there have been calls especially from the Greens for him to resign and in fact, they've gone a step further today and in fact have joined with Senator Roberts for that matter on this issue, Jeremy, in asking for the office bearers here in Parliament, that's the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate to investigate every single person in the Senate, an audit if you like of all our parliamentarians and their citizenship status.

Now that could stir up quite a lot of trouble as the Greens said today, there could be issues for the Government if anyone in the Lower House is found to be a dual citizen on the government side.

Here's how the Greens' leader, Richard Di Natale, put his request today.

RICHARD DI NATALE: Today I wrote to both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to immediately convene an expert independent group to undertake a thorough review of the citizenship status of all Members of Parliament and to determine their eligibility.

You see, it's a closed shop at the moment. None of them want to go near this because they're petrified.

TOM IGGULDEN: So that was the Greens' leader there of course, Jeremy, speaking today. Just exactly where that investigation goes or even if it gets begun here in Parliament will be something that we'll find out when Parliament resumes in just a couple of weeks from now.

JEREMY FERNANDEZ: Tom Iggulden, thank you.