Maverick MP Bob Katter has previously blasted any suggestion he could be a dual Lebanese citizen by descent, declaring no one in the federal parliament was more Australian than him.
Mr Katter’s grandfather, Carl Robert Katter, was born in Lebanon’s Kadisha Valley and, according to the independent MP, migrated to Queensland in the late 1800s.
Carl Robert Katter and his wife, Vivian, had their fourth child — Mr Katter’s father — in 1918.
The Katter family is prominent in north Queensland, with Mr Katter and his father, the late Bob Katter Senior, representing the rural seat of Kennedy for a combined 48 years (24 years each).
“You can’t be foreign if you’ve been living here for six generations, or five generations,” Mr Katter told The Australian last year.
“There’s as much chance of my father being a citizen of Lebanon as me becoming a left Greenie. I am one of the most pure Australians that you could ever find. I resent, as my father would, resent very strongly any implications to the contrary. Not because I’m worried about my seat in parliament, because I think there’s a little slimy piece of racism in there: I don’t happen to be pure merino.”
A Greens staffer has published an application for naturalisation for a Carl Robert Katter from the early 1900s, which lists him as a Turkish citizen under the former Ottoman Empire.
It states he is not a citizen of “any other country” and arrived in Australia from Assyria in 1898.
Attention turned to foreign-born parliamentarians and those with parents and grandparents from overseas last years after Senators and MPs across the paarliament discovered they were dual citizens.
Under section 44 of the Constitution, a person who is “is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power” is deemed incapable of being chosen for parliament and can be disqualified.
Lebanese law states that “every person born of a Lebanese father” is considered Lebanese.
A program run through the country’s ministry of foreign affairs and emigrants also says people are eligible for Lebanese nationality if they have “a father or grandfather with Lebanese origins, who left Lebanon and did not register their children as citizens”.
However a spokesman for the Lebanese embassy in Canberra said a parent must register their child at the embassy or consulate for their offspring to gain citizenship.
“If there is no registration of the children they wouldn’t be citizens, even if he his dad or grandad is Lebanese,” he said.
Mr Katter, born in the Queensland town of Cloncurry in 1945, laughed at the prospect of his father signing him up to be a “foreigner”.
He said his sister had been told Mr Katter Snr would have “automatically” lost any foreign citizenship after serving in the Australian Army as a lieutenant and captain during WWII.
“There are very few Australians who can say ‘all of my forebears were here in the 1880s’,” Mr Katter said at the time.
But would they be allowed in under KAP policy?
Ross Eastgate blogs at http://targetsdown.blogspot.com.au/.
An earlier version of this article originally appeared in The Australian.
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