George Christensen gets word from UK Home Office

23rd August 2017 9:56 AM
UPDATED 8:15 PM
Dawson MP George Christensen Dawson MP George Christensen MICK TSIKAS

UPDATE:

FINDING himself in the firing line yesterday over his heritage, George Christensen has described the debate around dual-citizen politicians as a "non-issue".

Mr Christensen has now checked his citizenship not once, not twice, but thrice, last night confirming that the UK Home Office had assured him that he did not have a claim to British citizenship.

The Federal Member for Dawson was born in Australia in 1978 to a UK-born mother.

Retrospective changes to the British Nationality Act made in 2010 allow a person born before 1983 to a British mother to apply for British Citizenship by descent when previously they were ineligible. Prior to 2010 people born before 1983 could only gain British citizenship from their father or paternal grandfather.

George's father, Ian Christensen, was born in Mackay, and comes from a family of cane farmers who originally emigrated from Denmark in 1901.

Margaret Christensen was contacted for comment, but she said: "I don't get involved in politics, you'll have to speak to George".

A spokesperson for Mr Christensen added: "He finds the whole thing a distraction, and a non-issue for the public. The focus should be on those things that really matter to people and that is where he is directing his attention."

Section 44 of the Australian Constitution disqualifies anyone who "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" from holding public office.

Mr Christensen's office refused to comment on the constitution and the purpose of Section 44.

A British High Commission spokesperson said: "British nationality law is complex, with a number of factors influencing eligibility including date and place of birth and citizenship of parents. It's not possible for us to comment on specific cases or to speculate more generally on whether or not people might hold British citizenship."

Retrospective changes to the British Nationality Act made in 2010 allow a person born before 1983 to a British mother to apply for British Citizenship by descent when previously they were ineligible. Prior to 2010 people born before 1983 could only gain British citizenship from their father or paternal grandfather.

EARLIER: THERE are questions surrounding the citizenship of Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen.

Mr Christensen has a Scottish mother, and is confident he is in the clear, despite not having official confirmation from the UK Home Office.

Until January 2010 UK law held that only fathers could pass on citizenship by descent.

This changed in 2010 when amendments to the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force saying mothers could pass citizenship to their children as long as their child was born before 1 January 1983

This meant from January 2010 UK mothers passed on citizenship by descent like British fathers had for decades.

Mr Christensen was born on 30 June 1978 in Mackay, Queensland.

When asked by Sky News the UK government did not provide a clear answer on Mr Chistensen's status

When the Daily Mercury in Mackay asked Mr Christensen about his citizenship last week, he said that he has checked and re-checked his status.

"There is no bloody Kiwi in me.  I checked my citizenship before I was elected and have gone to re-check it in recent times," he said last week.

"I am definitely not a citizen of another country."

After the questions raised by Sky News on Wednesday, the Member for Dawson has once again had to defend  his citizenship.

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"Due to the fact I was born in Australia to a British mother prior to 1983, the advice of the UK Government, via their online "Check if you're a British citizen" page, is that I do not have citizenship of the United Kingdom," Mr Christensen said.

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