The majority voted against a motion to address the issue of ineligible Senators and Members of Parliament (MPs) by referring the matter to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for investigation with the help of an independent auditor.
This motion relates to the so-called citizenship crisis where several senators (as well as the odd MP) were found to be ineligible for Parliament under the Constitution because they are dual citizens.
(1) That the Senate notes that there have now been five current and former senators referred to the Court of Disputed Returns to determine their eligibility under section 44 of the Constitution.
(2) The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquire into and report by 14 September 2017 on the following matters:
(a) the eligibility of senators in the 45th Parliament under section 44 of the Constitution in so far as it relates to being 'a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power';
(b) the legal liability of senators who know, or have grounds to suspect, that they are ineligible for office but do not come forward with that information, and whether they are defrauding the Commonwealth; and
(c) any other related matters.
(3) For the purposes of carrying out the inquiry, the committee must as soon as practicable, with the approval of the President, appoint an independent auditor, or auditors, with expertise in migration, citizenship and constitutional law to assist the committee.
(4) The independent auditor or auditors will be able to request to the committee to use its powers to order the production of documents from senators and order them to appear as witnesses and answer questions.
(5) On behalf of the committee, the independent auditor or auditors may present to representatives of foreign governments in Australia and seek information.