Zaki’s dual citizenship drama rocks Liberal campaign

Ian Bushnell 5 May 2019 17

Mina Zaki: Citizenship doubt clouds campaign. Photo: Facebook.

The Liberal Party from the Prime Minister down is standing by its candidate for Canberra, Mina Zaki, whose eligibility to stand is now under a dual citizenship cloud.

Ms Zaki was born in Afghanistan and moved to Australia when she was seven but only moved to renounce her Afghan citizenship when she decided to run for Parliament, winning preselection for the redistributed central ACT seat in December last year.

According to the Guardian, it appears her efforts to do so remain incomplete with final approval by the Afghan authorities still to be confirmed.

According to the checklist submitted to the Australian Electoral Commission, Ms Zaki says she renounced her Afghan Citizenship on 16 April but the supporting document dated 16 April is merely a letter to the Ministry of Justice recommending her application be accepted.

Nominations for the federal election closed on 23 April and Ms Zaki may still have been an Afghan citizen at that time.

Approval for renunciation must be given by the Afghani Council of Ministers and a confirmation letter is usually sent to the appropriate embassy through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Canberra Liberals said in a statement that Ms Zaki had managed to renounce her Afghan citizenship and obtained documentation but did not say what that was or produce any document.

“The Liberal Party is proud to endorse candidates from all over the world who have decided to make Australia home and participate in our democracy,” it said.

“Despite the difficult circumstances, Mina Zaki has indeed managed to renounce her Afghan citizenship and obtain, from the Government of that war-torn country, documentary confirmation that she has lost her Afghan nationality. She would be an outstanding representative for the people of Canberra.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also dismissed any speculation about her eligibility.

“I don’t have any concerns about that. That’s the advice that I’ve received,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Brisbane.

“It highlights – she’s a former Afghani. How good’s that? That’s who’s running for the Liberal Party. I think that demonstrates the diversity of the candidates that we’re putting to this election.”

This is the first election where all candidates are required by the AEC to complete an eligibility checklist declaring whether they have any issues, such as bankruptcy or dual citizenship, that could put them in breach of section 44 of the Constitution.

The doubts around Ms Zaki’s eligibility may well be academic because she is not expected to win the seat, in which Labor’s Alicia Payne is the firm favourite, although the Greens’ Tim Hollo hopes to mount a strong challenge.

But it comes as yet another distraction for the Coalition, which lost three candidates last week over their social media comments.

Labor said Ms Zaki’s eligibility to stand was a matter for the Liberal Party.

Mr Hollo, who has had his own laborious path to renouncing overseas citizenship, called for the reform of section 44.

“Mina and I don’t agree on many policies, but that’s the point – elections should be fought on policies, not on the candidates’ cultural backgrounds,” he said.
“Australia is a diverse society, and our Parliament should reflect that. Section 44 discourages so many Australians with international family connections from running for Parliament. I was only able to resolve my own citizenship issues by investing 14 months in tracing my family’s migration journey and multiple citizenship renunciations. Most prospective candidates aren’t in a position to do that.
“We need to reform Section 44 to remove this racist barrier from our democracy. In the meantime, the Australian Government should offer non-partisan support to people seeking to run for Parliament to navigate the citizenship procedures of other countries. It could take the form of a specialist unit within DFAT, available to advise prospective candidates.”

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17 Responses to Zaki’s dual citizenship drama rocks Liberal campaign
Mac John Mac John 8:27 pm 06 May 19

Another person believing in their self indulgence

David Rudland David Rudland 1:53 am 06 May 19

Seriously, should this ever be an ongoing issue. Ridiculous.

Shawn McIntyre Shawn McIntyre 5:23 pm 05 May 19

How can somebody with heritage in such a disadvantaged country throw their lot in with the Liberal party? I guess there must be the privileged elite everywhere.

Marcos Cruz Garcia Marcos Cruz Garcia 11:20 am 05 May 19

How can a person rule a country if cannot even know tha basics?

Marcos Cruz Garcia Marcos Cruz Garcia 11:19 am 05 May 19

Incompetence. Don't vote for her

Louise Flood Louise Flood 10:30 am 05 May 19

If these candidates cannot fill out the paperwork in an acceptable and timely any can we expect them to manage the running of the country?

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 5:32 pm 05 May 19

    Precisely. These people seem to think its like starting preschool, they are running for federal parliament and should at least be smart enough to get their paperwork sorted before the deadlines or withdraw...

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 1:25 pm 06 May 19

    Louise Flood I assume the same goes for Katy Gallagher?

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 1:43 pm 06 May 19

    Patrick J Pentony perhaps if you read what i said again you will find your answer. However, anyone who has more recently filled out the paperwork, after seeing the trouble it caused last year, would surely be expected to be more thorough.

Justin Watson Justin Watson 10:24 am 05 May 19

It used to be ok as long as you've done all you can to renounce your foreign citizenship. But then the Libs chased after a few Labor members who had renounced citizenship but didn't get the official notification in time and the high court ruled them out. It would come back to bite them, except she is highly unlikely to win a seat.

    Jay Kay Jay Kay 1:02 pm 06 May 19

    Widya Santoso Justin's highlighting the specific window of before close of nominations but before being elected, which Labor (and other political parties thought wasn't an issue until the lnp pressed the issue and the high court ruled on it.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 1:21 pm 06 May 19

    Widya Santoso As mentioned above, the Labor politicians caught had actually renounced their citizenship prior to nomination. It was a high court ruling that they had to receive official notification prior to nominating that ruled them out. None of them were actually dual citizens when the LNP went after them, but they were in the process of renouncing at the time of the election. Big difference to either being incompetent and not knowing, or just not renouncing the second citizenship, which was why the LNP members got done for. Even the Greens handled it better than the LNP did and just resigned straight away without dragging the chains, like this candidate is doing again.

Peter McMahon Peter McMahon 9:48 am 05 May 19

Here we go again. FFS when will the Pollies learn.

David Jolley David Jolley 9:37 am 05 May 19

To elect her would cost the Australian tax payers.

    Shaun Hazell Shaun Hazell 5:52 pm 05 May 19

    To elect Labor will cost the tax payers about 380 billion that much is known. And reason not to pay tax. Cheers

    David Jolley David Jolley 5:57 pm 05 May 19

    Shaun Hazell the reason she cost Australian tax payers is because of duel citizens

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 1:25 pm 06 May 19

    Shaun Hazell The Liberals are going to cut that much tax plus spend more money. Have you asked them, what they are cutting when they hand back all that tax, mostly to the wealthy?

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