BOUNTY hunters are trying to cash in on the plight of Barnaby Joyce and other federal MPs caught up in the citizenship debacle.
A quirk in Australian law that has since been overwritten has led punters to believe they could claim thousands of dollars off Mr Joyce and other federal MPs who are dual citizens.
But experts warn the law isn’t there as a cash-grab scheme and could even end up costing “chancers” a small fortune in legal costs.
Fifteen so-called bounty hunters have filed documents with the High Court since the start of July to target the “citizenship seven” using the Common Informers Act, which allows a member of the public to sue a politician who is ineligible to sit in Parliament.
And there are likely to be half a dozen fresh targets for bounty hunters when MPs are forced to disclose their own citizenship status in coming weeks.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie and Labor MPs Justine Keay and Susan Lamb already have questions over their eligibility.
Liberal MP John Alexander would also have been a prime target until he resigned over the weekend.
Under the Common Informers Act, a member of the public can claim $200 for the whole period that the ineligible MP sat in Parliament before they were sued, and then $200 a day for each subsequent day they sat after legal proceedings began.
Some believed they could potentially claim thousands of dollars more than that under Section 46 of the Constitution, which states any senator or MP ineligible to sit in Parliament is liable to pay £100 for every day they sit in Parliament to “any person who sues for it in any court of competent jurisdiction”.
That would be almost $14,757 per day according to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation calculator.
But that section was overridden when Parliament introduced the Common Informers Act in 1975.
No one has yet been successful in claiming any cash, but News Corp understands former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam have agreed to pay ACT man David Barrow $200 each after the High Court rules on his claim.
Neither could be targeted again as an ineligible MP can only be pursued under the Act once.
Political law expert Graeme Orr, from the University of Queensland, said the law was designed to allow the public to remove a politician that was ineligible and should not be treated as “some kind of windfall scheme”.
“It was designed to be a kind of backstop if the MP is recalcitrant or doesn’t resign,” he said.
Prof Orr also warned anyone that filed a claim was putting their own finances and assets at risk if they lost, as they could be pursued for any extra legal costs they caused the politician.
Dr McIntyre said it was “certainly possible for a citizen to win such a case”, particularly after the recent High Court ruling imposed such a strict test, but the amount they could gain was “minuscule”.
He said aside from the financial consequences of losing, costs to even file an action could amount to almost $3000 and lawyer fees would be substantial.
Custom HTML Preview
Far out...... some of the name calling we have for people who were actually born here and are more Australian than some considered Australian?
I must admit though, this whole drama creating a media interruptor has been a beautifully played political point which creates havoc around nothing.
In fact, it should not be called the "dual citizen politician" issue, it should be called "Seinfelds Australian Politics" in the key of S.
@Scott An act is an act, it has nothing to do with the constitution.
This comment has been deleted
I can’t understand how the common informers act has overridden s46. S128 clear states that the constitution can only be amended by a referendum and with no referendum the provision under s46 must still apply
@Scott An act is not part of the constitution
@Scott It is time you so-called experts read the Constitution first BEFORE you hit the keyboard.
S46 clearly states "Until the Parliament otherwise provides, any person declared by this Constitution to be incapable of sitting as a senator or as a member of the House of Representatives shall, for every day on which he so sits, be liable to pay the sum of one hundred pounds to any person who sues for it in any court of competent jurisdiction" - the words "Until the parliament otherwise provides", and in case you missed it, it means that the Commonwealth can vary it without a referendum. The same provision applies to several clauses in the Constitution.
This comment has been deleted
How does this act override s46. I thought the constitution could only be overridden by a referendum. I have not found any referendum for this act and therefore the provisions of s46 should still be the law.
Should be done as a class action against the all of them, for every Australian Citizen, as they have held us all in contempt
But in these cases the winning party always claim costs and expenses.... That $14,757 per day multiplied by 60+ days (the number of days parliament has sat in the past twelve months) that's almost $900k....
Rather than money hungry scoundrels if the legislation actually had teeth rather than the same nominal value as in the early 1900s, there might be some incentive for these dual citizens to actually do something. More to the point the economic value of £100 now is more like $600 000 rather than the simple RBA inflationary calculaor.
Either figure might ensure these politicans, who have bought the entire parliamentary system into disrepute, might have been a little more diligent in discovering their heritage.
Further politicians have had a report on Section 44 since Cleary & Sykes and they have taken no action. So they’ve taken action on matters that have a pecuniary impact on them, severely limiting it and allowed the substantive problems of Section 44 to fester.
Hope these people suing take them to the cleaners. Perhaps more of us should join in on a class action so thye can learn the lesson.
Show More Comments