Australian leaders at loggerheads over citizenship crisis

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s rival political leaders attacked each other on Thursday over the Parliament’s citizenship crisis that is threatening to ensnare a growing number of lawmakers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants opposition leader Bill Shorten to support his plan to make all lawmakers provide proof that they have not breached a constitutional ban on dual citizens sitting in Parliament.

Any House of Representative lawmakers who are disqualified as a consequence of an undisclosed second nationality would be replaced at by-elections early next year, which could potentially change the government.

But a day after a two-hour discussion on finding a bipartisan way forward, the two leaders remained divided.

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Shorten complained Thursday that Turnbull’s citizenship test was inadequate and allowed lawmakers too much time to provide proof that they had not inherited another nationality from a parent or had renounced any other nationality.

Shorten said the lawmakers should be given only five days to provide documented evidence that they were solely Australian, not three weeks as Turnbull proposed.

“I don’t think the nation can continue into the new year with this government crisis,” Shorten told Seven Network television.

Turnbull accused Shorten of exploiting the crisis for political gain rather than cooperating on finding a solution.

“He has got to decide whether he wants to be part of the solution or continue to be part of the problem,” Turnbull told Nine Network television.

The citizenship test needs to be endorsed by Parliament and the conservative government needs the opposition center-left Labor Party’s support to get that endorsement from the Senate.

Australia is rare if not unique in the world in banning dual nationals from sitting in Parliament.

The constitutional quirk had rarely been an issue in its 116-year history, although…

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