Could a country get their preferred candidates to win an Australian election by declaring all other candidates for that office citizens of that country, thereby making all those other candidates ineligible for the office? Can they get a current office-holder to be dismissed from the post by declaring them a citizen?

  • 2
    @Ben Voigt: But right now, the rules aren’t like that. In most if not all of the recent cases, the politicians involved were unaware that they had the other citizenship, and they had never requested or accepted the citizenship (which they got by birth).
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 2:15
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    @Accumulation: For the benefit of everyone who isn’t into Australian politics, perhaps you could add a paragraph about the background (that the Australian constitution forbids dual nationals from sitting in parliament, and that recently a number of cases surfaced where an elected politician had another nationality without being aware of it).
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 2:18
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should be on Law.SE as it asks how the citizenship laws work.
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 19:08
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    @user4012 I'd characterize this question more as about constitutional requirements for being a member of parliament, rather than about citizenship laws - an answer may well be "They'd be ruled as being a dual citizen, but be still allowed to be an MP". I think this would be on topic on law, but a question about laws specifically about politicians may also be on-topic for a site about politics.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 20:22
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    New Zealand: disqualify all the politicians! nzherald.co.nz/world/news/…
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


At the risk of stating the obvious: This would be considered an act of aggression against Australia as a nation, not merely against one political party.

Let's suppose the UK is having trouble negotiating a post-Brexit trade agreement with Australia. It suddenly grants UK citizenship to the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet. This means they are dismissed from office and the UK can now negotiate with a different Prime Minister, right?

In any practical sense, no. This would be considered unacceptable interference in Australia's internal politics. Most likely, whatever Australian government remained in office would push through emergency legislation to nullify this British mischief-making. The principal effect would be to permanently damage relations between Australia and the UK.

(The UK is just an example, much the same would apply to any other country.)

  • The members of parliament probably wouldn't even need to be excluded from voting, someone would have to prove in court that another country can decide ex parte to make a foreign person a citizen, and that such a decision would have legal standing. Even in the absence of a law specifically preventing it, it seems like a hard sell. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 14:55
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    "Most likely, whatever Australian government remained in office would push through emergency legislation to nullify this British mischief-making." When it's constitutional, what kind of emergency legislation could the government pass? Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 2:23

From an opinion piece published by the public broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation What the High Court citizenship decision says about the health of our democracy

The standard is a strict one: It is no excuse, for the purposes of section 44, that an MP has no real ties to a foreign power, or did not in fact know they were a citizen of another country.

But it is not a wholly absolute one: the court recognises foreign countries cannot make it impossible, or unreasonably onerous, to renounce allegiance to that country. To allow this, the court held, would impermissibly undermine "the constitutional imperative that an[y] Australian citizen" be able to participate in representative government.

If a foreign government was trying to deny an Australian citizen being able to be a MP, let alone try to get a particular candidate elected, that would likely not be in contravention of section 44 of the constitution.

  • I wonder if the $25K Sam Dastyari's spent on legal fees to renounce his Iranian citizenship would now not be needed. Problem is, that you can't show how onerous it would be without trying. Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 22:52
  • On the theme of a legalistic answer there is a fairly detailed answer here: law.stackexchange.com/a/22091/4410 Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 2:38

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