Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has provided proof that he renounced his dual British citizenship in 2006.
Making a personal explanation today, Shorten reiterated his argument that members should not have to respond to unsubstantiated allegations. Nevertheless, Shorten tabled a letter from the UK Home Office showing that he renounced his British dual citizenship before he was elected to parliament.
Shorten attacked the Turnbull government for a campaign of smear and called on Turnbull to insist that Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce stand aside until his eligibility to sit as a member of parliament is clarified.
- Watch Shorten’s personal explanation (3m – transcript below)
- Listen to Shorten (3m)
Hansard transcript of personal explanation by Bill Shorten.
Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (15:15): I wish to make a personal explanation.
The SPEAKER: Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
Mr SHORTEN: Very much so. I’m seeking to explain a matter of a personal nature as allowed under standing order 68.
The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition is correct and he may proceed.
Mr SHORTEN: I want to address comments made by the Prime Minister and the member for Warringah and other members of the government suggesting that I might be secretly be a UK national—a dual national, like his ministers. I will not allow the Prime Minister to use a smear about me as cover for the crisis which engulfs his government. This silly distraction has to end. The circus has to stop. The country does not have time for it. So, in order to put this matter to rest once and for all, I seek leave to table a copy of correspondence from the UK Home Office confirming that I successfully renounced my United Kingdom citizenship prior to my election to parliament in 2007.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will cease interjecting. Is leave granted?
Mr SHORTEN: I accept that, if I want to be elected Prime Minister, there cannot be any doubt about my constitutional eligibility. Pushed by the conspiracy theorists like the Prime Minister and the member for Warringah, I offer this proof to the parliament today to put an end to baseless allegations, not reward them. I strongly believe that MPs and senators should not be forced to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence. I repeat: MPs and senators should not be forced—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will cease interjecting.
Mr SHORTEN: to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence, no matter which party they are from. This is our chance to draw a line in the sand. This must end. In an age of Twitter trolls and baseless online conspiracies, this is a chance for our parliament to declare we are bigger and better than this. To accept otherwise, to turn our back on the notion that a person making an allegation must have some evidence, sets a dangerous precedent. I suspect the Prime Minister and his colleagues knew the claim about me to be completely false, but that is not their motive. Their tactic is clear. It is to do anything, no matter how desperate, to distract from the crisis of legitimacy shrouding this government.
The SPEAKER: I just ask the Leader of the Opposition to conclude his remarks.
Mr SHORTEN: I’m concluding my remarks. The Deputy Prime Minister should not be allowed to serve as Acting Prime Minister. If he does, the entire legitimacy of this government and this parliament is at risk. I say to the Prime Minister: do the right thing, do the honest thing, be the strong leader you claim you are and make the Deputy Prime Minister stand aside.