First published July 28
My Petition to the High Court in 2010 is a record of the Abetz matter at that time, and it’s presented here with the more salient points highlighted in red and blue.
In 1974 Abetz was16, technically a child and below the age of consent yet one with a valid German passport. This was not handed in when he acquired Australian citizenship by naturalization. A Naturalisation certificate is not sufficient in political terms to comply with Section 44(1).
A candidate is required to write to his country of birth renouncing his second citizenship. The relevant department in that country then has to write back confirming this renunciation.
The Senators who have recently resigned did not possess this document and consequently they were to claim their pay illegally because they were not entitled to sit in the Senate under Section 44(1). If they continued to sit then they were committing a fraud against the Commonwealth by taking money under false pretences.
This is no different to accepting Centrelink money fraudulently, a matter so vigorously prosecuted by the likes of Abetz and other hard right Australian pollies.
This same law applies to Abetz for the period 1994 to 2010 as he has no valid renunciation documentation from the German government - and I believe he was well aware of this. I suggest that lawyer Abetz knowingly took public money from 1994 until he renounced his German citizenship in March 2010.
Abetz knew when he filled a casual vacancy in 1994 that he did not have the necessary paperwork.
Abetz states that he wrote to the German authorities but never received a reply. How can this be so in such an important matter?
Abetz stated to Mercury reporter Sue Neales that he would produce documents to prove this renunciation. This he did not do, and he never has.
Abetz managed to spin out this complex situation, despite my best remedial efforts, and so with the help of various Presidents of the Senate he eventually reached a safe haven in March 2010 when for the first time he was legally elected.
Under pressure, with the possibility of losing his highly paid job, and the power that went with it, Abetz was forced because of my legal challenge to legally renounce his German citizenship and to document the matter. He produced his newly-minted Renunciation Certificate on the steps of the High Court on the first day of the hearing thereby causing me to withdraw my case. Abetz had to pay his own costs.
Abetz, no country will allow you to renounce a citizenship that you do not have!
The cost of investigating all this may now fall to the Commonwealth if a Senator in the chamber will ask Abetz to make his previous status clear by producing the documentation he has always claimed to be in his possession and which permitted his legal election prior to 2010.
I thank Brandis for bringing this matter before the High Court as a challenge over Section 44 (1).
I request that the Senate joins the matter of Abetz to this challenge.
Download Petition (it’s a two-or-three-step process) ...
Extracts from my petition that have a direct relevance to the Abetz matter. Attention is particularly drawn to his replies in bold type …
7. The Respondent was born Erich Abetz in Stuttgart, Germany on 25th
January 1958 a citizen of The Federal Republic of Germany. He
migrated to Australia, the youngest of five siblings, with his parents
arriving on 22nd March 1961 on the ‘Castel Felice’ in Melbourne.
8. He was issued with a German passport on 22nd July 1971 in Melbourne,
number C1674055; nationality German; his German passport was not
handed in when he became an Australian Citizen.
9. On 3rd December 1974 at Hobart the Respondent became a naturalized
Australian pursuant to Div. 3 of Pt III of the Nationality and Citizenship
Act 1948 (Cth).
10. A Commonwealth Government official wrote to the German embassy in
Canberra in 1974 advising that one Erich Abetz born January 25 1958
certificate of Citizenship No AC(G)102404 as of 3rd December 1974
became an Australian Citizen adding that Mr Abetz’s German passport
was not collected…..
12. The Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Brian Roper Archer, resigned from the
Senate on 31st January 1994. Three weeks later Erich Abetz was elected
to fill a casual Vacancy in the Senate at a joint sitting of the Tasmanian
Parliament on 22 February 1994. The Hansard record does not provide
the specific information to match all of the requirements of either the
Australian Electoral Act nor the several sections of the Australian
Constitution. The Tasmanian Parliament no longer has the paper
records including his declaration supporting the Liberal Party’s
nomination of Mr Abetz to fill the casual vacancy….
18. The Petitioner wrote to the Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans on 14th
March 2007 for advice as to what actions were available and how to
proceed, he replied on 15th March 2007:
“When a senator is returned or appointed by a state parliament to fill
a vacancy, the Senate does not conduct any check to determine that the
senator is qualified. Ensuring that they are qualified is the
responsibility of individual senators. …..
If you think that any senator may not be qualified, you therefore have
the options of asking the Senate to consider whether it should make a
reference to the Court or commencing an action under section 46. As
the question of a senator’s citizenship should be easily able to be
resolved, perhaps the best course is simply to call
upon the senator to disclose evidence of citizenship.”
19. It was brought to the attention of the Respondent by the Petitioner in a
letter 16th March 2007 that he might not be qualified to sit in the Senate
pursuant to s44(i) of the Constitution. The Petitioner requested Senator
Abetz to provide documentation to prove renunciation of his German
citizenship, none was received.
21. The Respondent has sat knowingly in the Parliament since filling a
casual vacancy in 1994, being elected 1998 and 2004.
22. The German Embassy previously would not confirm the citizenship
status of Senator Abetz on privacy grounds.
23…..As a consequence of the recommendations of the House of
representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs in relation to section 44(i) of the Constitution, the Department
of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)
maintains a database on the procedures for renunciation of other
citizenship in various countries. The following information on
renunciation procedures is drawn from the DIMIA database and is
provided to assist intending candidates who hold further citizenship(s)
in addition to their Australian citizenship.
German citizenship may be renounced with the approval of the
Ministry of Interior: Persons should contact the Embassy of Germany
24. The matter of the status of the Respondent to sit has been placed before
the Senate on several occasions. The Presidents have refused to act, and
therefore I suggest, failed to observe the Constitution.
Your response as President is clearly a refusal to act, by declining to
exercise the authority vested in your office under the Constitution,
which carries with it a responsibility to bring the matter to the
attention of the Senate. As a result, the Senate by failing to consider the
issue of qualifications in accordance with its obligations under section
44 alters the issue to one of failure to observe the Constitution rather
than an investigation into the qualifications of a Senator.
I shall now refer the matter to the High Court, I shall state in this
referral that I am not happy when Senators are protected by their
President from the people they are supposed to represent. Your
dereliction of duty in this matter is such that I will ask the High Court
to call you to account for failing to act in accordance with the
Constitution which you are bound, through your position as President
30. The High Court Registry advised the Petitioner by letters dated 10th
November and 18th December 2008 that such a “petition challenging
the validity of any election” could only be made “within 40 days of the
return of the writ” and “There is no provision for extending the time.”
31. The Respondent states in an interview reported in the Hobart Mercury
published Friday, 30th July 2010 that he had become the President of
the Tasmanian Liberal Party in 1990 and that on standing he wrote to
the German Embassy in 1993 “renouncing any lingering claims to
German citizenship he might have. I renounced my German citizenship in that letter, full stop.”
32. In an interview published in the Mercury, Friday 30th July 2010 Senator Abetz said
“that when he first became an Australian Citizen inHobart in 1974, aged 16, he was told the
move automatically cancelled his previous German Citizenship. He says he also has documents
to prove he took further steps to ensure his German citizenship had been completely
relinquished before becoming a Senator in 1994.” No evidence of these “further steps”
for the filling of this casual vacancy have been provided to the Petitioner.
33. The Respondent admits in the article that “he did not hear anything
further leaving him convinced he did not hold dual citizenship.”
38. The Respondent commences in the 1998 form with his given name as
Eric, his date of birth, which is the 25th of the month, the entry for the
month and year are not completed, further he does not provide a place
of birth and giving his date of citizenship as the 11/11/74 (Remembrance
Day) which is incorrect. He ticks the box ‘I am capable of being chosen
and sitting as a Senator (because I am not disqualified by virtue of
Section 44 of the Constitution)’.
40. The Respondent’s fourth completed nomination form is for the election
of 2004 under which he currently sits in the Parliament. The
Respondent declared his given name as Eric, his occupation as
Minister/Senator, this is his rank, he is in fact a Member of Parliament.
No number for his citizenship is given. The number given T2078616
written above the box is in another hand, uninitialled, it is not the
Respondent’s citizenship number. The Date of citizenship is now correct
but different from what was declared in 1998.
42. A perusal of these nomination forms illustrates significant variations in
the Respondents particulars to validly complete a nomination form for
the Australian Senate.
43. Further the 2004 nomination form would suggest that this form was
altered by persons unknown after registration.
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...