Please, pollies: fix section 44 once and for all

Out: Not-quite-Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore. Photo: NXT.

Out: Not-quite-Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore. Photo: NXT.

Wednesday was the day the citizenship saga jumped the shark.

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore announced her discovery that she was a British citizen – get this – because her mother was born in Singapore before it became independent in 1965 and because, by virtue of her grandfather's birth in the United Kingdom, her mother had gained the right to live there when new legislation was introduced in 1971, British citizenship was therefore conferred on Ms Kakoschke-Moore at her birth in 1985.

Get real.

The count is now nine MPs who have been forced to resign from our federal parliament because of dual citizenship, which in most cases they were unaware they had.

That figure does not include the MPs who were ruled ineligible for part-owning an electorate office, being bankrupt when a nomination form was filled in, or accepting a government job after failing to be elected, or any of the others under a cloud.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin has assured us he is no longer an Italian citizen despite his parents having immigrated from that country, and we accept his word.

But he must be aware of the level of public frustration about this issue.

At the last election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised stable government, with a focus on things like company tax cuts.

Instead, for six months or more, the only issues that have cut through to the electorate are this citizenship fiasco and same-sex marriage.

The Australian people have had their say on one of those issues, and it is up to the legislators to put their decision into practice.

But the other is hanging around like a bad smell.

Now is the time to tackle it head-on by holding a referendum to amend section 44 of Australia's constitution.

Forget the audits, self-referrals and ambushes by amateur genealogists.

In a modern, multicultural, globally minded nation like ours, it doesn't make sense that Australians should be disqualified from political office for having had a parent born overseas, or working at a university.

It’s not the 1890s any more.

Yes, it has been 18 years since we last had a referendum, and they rarely get up.

But if we as a nation are unable to fix such an obvious nuisance as section 44, what hope do we have of surmounting greater challenges?

Peri Strathearn