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Josh Frydenberg’s eligibility has been quizzed by two residents of his seat of Kooyong, one over his citizenship, the other in bilingually subverting the democratic process.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is the latest to joust with section 44 of the Australian constitution after being challenged by an elector in his home seat, Kooyong.
A petition with the High Court alleges that Frydenberg is ineligible to hold a position in government “because he is a citizen of the Republic of Hungary”.
The petition states that Frydenberg’s “mother arrived in Australia in 1950 in possession of a valid passport, inferred to be a valid Hungarian passport. This indicates that she continued to be a citizen of Hungary after 1948. Pursuant to the law of Hungary, all children born to the respondent’s mother are a citizen of Hungary from the time of their birth and in the premise, the respondent is a citizen of Hungary.”
The elector that raised the challenge, Michael Staindl, told The Guardian he was enabling this action because “he’s consistently betrayed me, the electorate and the country on climate change”.
The Guardian noted that Staindl “said if Frydenberg shows evidence he is not Hungarian he could drop the case”; otherwise, he said, he would “see it through”.
By definition, Section 44 states that a person cannot represent the federal parliament “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.
In response, Frydenberg said that he has, “clear legal advice that I do not hold citizenship of another country.”
It’s worth mentioning that Frydenberg’s eligibility was queried in the Great Section 44 squabble of 2017, but the ALP purportedly let it slide, primarily because the Frydenberg’s arrived in Australia to escape the Holocaust.
At the time, Frydenberg said that “It is absolutely absurd to think that I could involuntarily acquire Hungarian citizenship by the rule of a country that rendered my mother stateless.”
The elector that raised the challenge told The Guardian he was enabling the action because “he’s consistently betrayed me, the electorate and the country on climate change.
However, as The Conversation‘s Michelle Grattan noted, Frydenberg is facing a secondary challenge from within the Kooyong electorate. She wrote, “…separately, Frydenberg’s eligibility is being challenged under the Electoral Act over Liberal party Chinese-language signs. This challenge is being brought by Oliver Yates, who ran as an independent against Frydenberg. It is claimed the signs were likely to have misled voters into thinking that to cast a valid vote they had to put the figure 1 beside the Liberal candidate.
“A similar challenge over Chinese-language signs has been brought by a Chisholm voter against the new Liberal MP for Chisholm, Gladys Liu.
Political parties should not have the right to mislead and deceive voters. Help with the crowd funding if you can. Citizens have to stand up to protect our democracy. https://t.co/yQkuMtI2Bj
— Oliver Yates (@_Oliver_Yates) July 31, 2019
“The ALP is not involved in the challenges. The ALP’s acting national secretary Paul Erickson said in a statement that Labor was “disappointed by the tactics employed by the Liberal Party at the election, which went well beyond the accepted bounds of a vigorously contested campaign – especially in the divisions of Chisholm and Kooyong.
“‘The Chinese-language signs used by the Liberal Party in those contests were clearly designed to look like official Australian Electoral Commission voting instructions using the AEC colours, for the clear purpose of misleading Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking voters into voting for the Liberal Party,’ he said.
“But while there was a strong case that the signs breached the Electoral Act Labor was not seeking to overturn the results in Chisholm and Kooyong, given the cost and time involved, Erickson said.”