Federal MP Julia Banks, denies she has ever held Greek citizenship, but there is concern in the Liberal Party that the Government’s one-seat majority could be tested with a by-election if she is proved wrong, according to the ABC Radio website.
The MP says she was born in Australia and both her parents are Australian citizens. The fact that her father was born in Greece makes her entitled to Greek citizenship, but Banks told ABC she has never taken up Greek citizenship. The Liberal Party is seeking to clarify her citizenship status.
“I was born here. So was my mum. My dad was born in Greece and became an Australian citizen also before I was born,” she told ABC.
“So I was born an Australian citizen in Australia to parents who were both Australian citizens.”
Banks holds the marginal seat of Chisolm in outer Melbourne by just 1.2 per cent. However, her eligibility is questioned because the relevant section of the constitution says people cannot be elected if they are “entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.
Now it is up to the High Court to determine if Banks’ entitlement to Greek citizenship makes her ineligible and to rule on whether she should have renounced any Greek citizenship entitlements before nominating.
A spokesman for the Liberal Party issued a statement saying, “We have received confirmation from the Greek embassy that according to records, Julia Banks is not registered as a Greek citizen and also is not entitled as a Greek citizen”.
According to the ABC report, her father Sofoulis Phillip Lolatgis came to Australia in 1949 at the age of 15, and he has since died.