Would an Australian restore British imperial honours and then knight the Queen's husband, already a Prince, on Australia Day?

Managing editor David Donovan explains why he has just come to the view that Tony Abbott is very likely to still be a British citizen and thus ineligible to sit in the Australian Parliament — let alone be the prime minister.

TONY ABBOTT IS A DUAL CITIZEN of Britain and Australia and thus ineligible to sit in Federal Parliament under s44 of the Australian Constitution. Almost certainly.

Let me explain why I finally reached this conclusion — just yesterday.

Yesterday, because before then I was of the view that Mr Abbott had, most probably, renounced his British citizenship sometime between June 1999 and November 2001. Yes, I know the website I run has published numerous articles before now suggesting Abbott may indeed be a dual citizen — and I stand by every one.

I am open to all possibilities until definitive proof is shown one way or the other. Aren't you?

But I thought it was unlikely. A bit of a diversion. In the end, when push came to shove, I was pretty sure that Abbott would magically produce his "Form RN", so that all the "conspiracy theorists" suggesting he was still a British national would be left with warm beer and soggy chips all over their Abbott-hating faces.

But, as time went on, after pondering the matter and, particularly, after reading Ross Jones' piece this week on the topic – on Tony Magrathea’s unceasing efforts to get to the bottom of this affair – I have finally changed my mind.

I’ll explain why in a moment — but, first, let me explain why I believe this is an important issue and not the equivalent of the crazy rightwing “Birthers” movement in the United States. Birthers, if you recall, are the U.S. Tea Party nuts who mounted an increasingly absurd – and often rather racist – campaign against Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility to be United States president.

In America, the Constitution states that their president must be born in the United States. So, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger – who was, for a while, Californian Governor – could never become U.S. president, being born in Austria.

Hasta la vista, Arnie. 

Personally, I think that's a pretty absurd and discriminatory law, but it is their law – Article Two of the fabled United Stated Constitution – so what right do I have to say? And, to be quite frank, conspiracy theorists doubting whether Obama was actually born in the United States did have some ammunition. I mean, Barack was born in Hawaii, did have a Kenyan father, an Indonesian step-father and, from the age of six until ten, did live in Indonesia. And he had that name – Obama – which sounds a lot like … Well, you know ...

But the thing is — Obama really was born in Hawaii. He did what any normal, reasonable person would do under similar circumstances — produce his birth certificate. It showed he was born in Hawaii. And then a whole lot of other documents were produced by various authorities, including his long form birth certificate and the birth announcements that were contemporaneously published in two separate Hawaiian newspapers.

There was no doubt — Obama was eligible. The proof was produced in a timely fashion. Case closed.

But still the idiots – such as Donald Trump – went on sowing doubt.

Abbott’s case is very different. Firstly, we know exactly where Tony Abbott was born — London, UK. There is no controversy about that fact. No-one is contesting it, least of all Tony.

His birth certificate is shown below [IA emphasis]:

If Abbott was running for the U.S. presidency, well, he would be ineligible. No question about it. As I said, I think that is a silly law for another immigrant nation — but there you have it. 

However, Abbott is an MP in the Australian Parliament. Under Australian law, you can be born anywhere, it doesn’t matter.

I like that. I am not a birther. Abbott was born in the UK — good on him. So was my grandmother. I have nothing against dual citizens or the British. I lived in England for six years myself — though I never applied for British citizenship.

But here's the thing — the wise founding fathers said in our Constitution that to serve the Australian people, you need to give up all other allegiances. 

Section 44 of the Australian Constitition says, pretty plainly, you can’t have allegiance to a foreign power if you want to serve the Australian people as a member of Parliament:

44. Any person who -

(i.) Is 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

... shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

You need to purposefully renounce any ties to foreign powers. You need to make a choice and confirm where your loyalties lie.

I like that too.

People who have allegiances to other nations should not be members of the Australian Parliament. They should certainly not be the prime minister, with all the international responsibilities that portfolio entails. 

As I have said, I have nothing against dual citizens — but if you are going to represent the Australian people, you need to choose them.

Let’s think all this through.

Britain is one of our closest allies, we have dealings with them all the time. But if Tony Abbott is still a willing subject of Her Majesty the Queen and Britain – or any other power – how do we know that, when push comes to shove, he is not acting on her – their – behalf instead of ours? Maybe he thinks what's good for Britain is good for Australia, who knows? 

Whatever, I would like to see the proof that our prime minister has made the conscious decision to renounce his British birth country and throw in his lot in with Australia, holus bolus. Wouldn’t you?

I mean, we have talked about the circumstantial birther evidence about Obama — but what about Abbott?

Listen to these facts. Anthony John Abbott was born in England to an English father and an Australian mother. Despite having an Australian mother, the family came to this country when Abbott was a toddler under the assisted migrant scheme as £10 poms. They took the Australian Government's money, despite Abbott’s father being a dentist. His father, Dick, went on to create one of Australia's largest orthodontic practices, making a literal fortune selling braces to bucktoothed rich kids' parents in Sydney's North Shore.

Abbott arrived in Australia at the age of three, went to posh schools, got degrees in law and economics from Sydney University and, for reasons still subject to significant conjecture – since he was by no means an academic standout – won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, back to the land of his birth.

But there was a problem. To win a Rhodes Scholarship, you needed to be a citizen of one of the former “colonies” — not Britain. But Tony Abbott was born in England and had never applied for Australian citizenship. At 21, he was still a pom. Presumably, despite his punchy political activism, he was ineligible to vote in the 1980 Federal election. In the end, the forms were submitted by Tony’s mother and came through just in time for him to attain the scholarship.

Here’s how Abbott described the experience of coming home to the mother country, in a speech to Queen’s College Oxford in 2012:

Like about a million other Australians, including Prime Minister Gillard, who also came to Australia as a child, I was born in Britain. As well as people, the British Isles have given Australia our language, our system of law and our parliamentary democracy. The conviction that an Englishman’s home is his castle and faith in British justice, no less than the understanding that Jack is as good as his master, have taken strong root in Australia….

So when the plane bringing me back to Britain flew low up the Thames Valley and I saw for the first time as an adult Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s cathedral and the Tower of London, I had a sense of belonging…

Let's state the bleeding obvious. Tony Abbott was a pom, has always been a pom and is still a pom to this very day. He may have a few Australian allegiances and characteristics, but there is no doubt whatsoever that his deepest loyalties and loves lie with the Auld Country. As he described himself in his turgid political manifesto Battlelines, he is an 'incorrigible Anglophile'.

The proof is plain. But let's dig deeper.

Tony Abbott was national director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy before he entered politics — the group that strived hardest of all to prevent Australia breaking its archaic constitutional links to Great Britain by becoming a republic. And he was still deeply involved during the 1999 referendum — and smug afterwards, when the vote was narrowly unsuccessful

A few years later, one of his earliest acts as prime minister was to unilaterally bring back British imperial honours – "knights and dames" – into the Australian system. Then, despite the intense ridicule and political damage he received for that universally unpopular act, on Australia Day this year, he used the awards he'd restored to knight the Queen’s husband — Prince Philip. The reaction was so intensely negative he almost lost his job. But he blazed on nonetheless, bringing out more more royal freeloaders to this country than Australia has ever seen before — as well as doing everything possible to put his daughters in the vicinity of Prince Harry who, since Abbott became PM, seems to have made Australia his second home.

Do I need to go on? I will anyway.

Abbott said last year that before the British arrived, Australia was “nothing but bush”. Take that, 60,000 years of civilisation.

The odd thing about Australia is that, up until the High Court decision in Sue vs Hillon 23 June 1998, British citizens like Tony Abbott could sit in the Australian Parliament. They didn't need to renounce a thing. Until then, Australia was, to all intents and purposes, British. Indeed, many Australian prime ministers, particularly the early ones, were born in Britain. It was only when Britain was finally declared a foreign power in that case, in 1998, that renouncing British citizenship became a necessity for "incorrigible Anglophiles" like Tony.

Abbott was, of course, elected in 1994. So there was no need for him to renounce before 1998. After then, well, who knows?

I reckon I know. And you? Based on everything you have heard here, do you think Tony Abbott sounds like a person who would readily relinquish his British citizenship, without being dragged to the British Home Office, kicking, screaming and wailing at the top of his lungs? Given the body monitoring candidate eligibility for public office in Australia, the AEC, don't require for any proof of sole Australian citizenship? None at all?

I mean, it would be very easy for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to put this issue to bed, once and for all. But, despite articles from Channel Nine, Daily Mail, Guardian, PravdaIndependent Australia – hell, even a sarcastic one from News Corp  Prime Minister Abbott has refused to reveal his renunciation papers. Refused completely to even acknowledge the issue, despite petitions signed by over 28,000 people and letters from politicians asking him to show proof.

There are two ways to look at this. If he has renounced, as most people seem to think he must have done, then it shows a contempt for the will of the people. A disdain for the principles of open transparent government.

The other option is that Tony Abbott has not, in fact, relinquished his cherished British citizenship. In that case, he is an illegal parliamentarian and an illegal prime minister. The ramifications of that are profound.

The only person who can clear all this up is Prime Minister Tony Abbott. All he needs to do is produce the document – the Form RN – that he must have submitted to the British Home Office to show he really has renounced his British citizenship.

But I don't think he will. Because he probably never did.

* As at 3/6/15. This figure was incorrectly noted as 70,000 in an earlier version of this article. You can follow David Donovan on Twitter @davrosz.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Monthly Donation

$

Single Donation

$

Looking for stories not covered by mainstream media? Subscribe to IA for just $5.

 

Share this article:   

Join the conversation Comments Policy

comments powered by Disqus