Statement by Andrew Woodward, President.
6 November 2017
Luke Hartsuyker still has questions to answer over dual citizenship and his eligibility to sit in Parliament
The eligibility of the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, to sit in Parliament continues to be in question following a series of inconsistent statements and unanswered questions concerning his potential dual Dutch – Australian Citizenship.
Since concerns were first raised by Labor in his electorate of Cowper in August, Mr Hartsuyker has failed to formally answer a written request for information, nor has he made a statement in Parliament, amplifying concerns about his eligibility.
Further, in recent weeks Mr Hartsuyker has made some untruthful and misleading comments about the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass and the bungled completion of the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, heightening concerns about the integrity of his statements on the public record. This led to a re-examination of his comments on the citizenship matter and glaring inconsistencies were discovered.
Family matters must be handled with the utmost sensitivity and respect. However, this is a question of law and Mr Hartsuyker has spoken often of his Dutch heritage. Thus, he and his party have put this issue in the public domain. In losing the Deputy Prime Minister and leaders in both houses, the National Party’s sloppy administration has made Australia an international embarrassment.
Given the recent ruling by the High Court, the findings against sitting parliamentarians (Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash and Malcolm Roberts) and Mr Hartsuyker’s avoidance of formally responding, the issue won’t be resolved until confirmed by a third party. The third party in this case is the High Court and Mr Hartsuyker should ask the Speaker of the Parliament to refer his case to the High Court. If the court rules he is eligible, so be it – case closed. While Labor Leader Bill Shorten has put forward a positive proposal to deal with the government’s citizenship crisis, this should not preclude Mr Hartsuyker from acting immediately.
A question can’t continue to remain over his eligibility. Should Mr Hartsuyker not contest the next Federal Election, as is being speculated, Mr Hartsuyker in normal circumstances would be entitled to the ‘generous’ parliamentary superannuations benefit. His entitlement to this benefit is in question until his eligibility is confirmed. If eligible, Mr Hartsuyker stands to benefit from the previous scheme as he entered Parliament in 2001. The scheme was changed in 2004 to align with wider community superannuation scheme standards.
In August 2017, Bellinger River Labor asked numerous questions of Mr Hartsuyker:
- What is the basis for your assertion on NBN News on 27 July 2017 concerning your eligibility? Can you provide any documentation to support your assertion? If yes, please provide all details and all related documentation.
- As you obtained Dutch citizenship at birth, when did you renounce it or under which circumstances did you lose it and when? Please provide all details and all related documentation.
- Have you had any formal correspondence with the Netherlands Government prior to or since entering parliament in 2001 concerning your citizenship of the Netherlands through birth? If yes, please provide all details and all related documentation between you, your representatives and the Dutch Government and or their representatives.
Mr Hartsuyker was sent a letter on 13 August 2017 and has not responded to it in nearly three months. Nor has he made any statement in Parliament on the matter.
Since the matter was first raised three months ago, Mr Hartsuyker himself or through a spokesperson has made a number of inconsistent statements:
- NBN (27 July 2017) simply said, in essence, as he has one Australian parent and one Dutch parent, there is no issue.
- Coffs Harbour Advocate (14 August 2017) said he lost the right to dual citizenship when he was 28 (twenty-eight). Inconsistent with point one and four.
- Coffs Harbour Advocate (14 August 2017) said the Dutch Embassy in Canberra advised him “weeks ago”. Verbally or in writing? Is there a letter or file note?
- ABC (15 August 2017) said he lost the right to dual citizenship when he was 25 (twenty-five). Inconsistent with points one and two.
- Sky News (15 August 2017) admitted he visited the Netherlands when he was 30, raising the question does entering the country immediately re-install dual citizenship or rights as occurs with some other nations?
- Daily Telegraph (23 August 2017) said there were no documents to prove he didn’t have dual citizenship. Possibly inconsistent with point three.
- Mr Hartsuyker has refused to answer questions, make a statement in parliament or release documents.
- Mr Hartsuyker has two different explanations of his status – one angle is because he has one Australian parent it was never an issue and the second explanation said he had it but lost it in his twenties.
- Mr Hartsuyker has two different ages he said he lost it at – 25 and 28.
- Was Mr Hartsuyker’s dual citizenship re-installed when he visited the Netherlands when he was 30?
- Mr Hartsuyker said he received advice from the Dutch Embassy in Canberra and a week later a spokesperson says there are no documents to say he isn’t a dual citizen.
In FarmOnline on 15 August 2017, Mr Hartsuyker said of the Barnaby Joyce matter: “We’re certainly confident the High Court will find in favour of the Deputy Prime Minister“. We know how that ended – in a by-election costing $2 million – all because Barnaby Joyce broke the law.
There’s too much inconsistency in Mr Hartsuyker’s statements to allow this to pass unquestioned. Further, the advice the government was working to was proven incorrect and we now have the benefit of the High Court’s ruling of the ‘Citizenship Seven” – soon to become eight with former Senator Parry and possibly more.
Mr Hartsuyker should ask the Speaker of the House to refer this matter to the High Court for ruling and settle the matter once and for all.
ABC Mid North Coast, 15 August 2017
“In fact, I never visited the Netherlands until I was 30,” Luke Hartsuyker, Sky News, 15 August 2017
3. Background – Statement and research released 12 August 2017 and email of 13 August 2017
Screenshot of unanswered letter delivered by email to Mr Hartsuyker of 13 August 2017
Search of Hansard of “Hartsuyker AND Dutch” conducted 4 November 2017
4. Background – Labor’s position (3 November 2017)
Updated: 4 November 2017