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Frydenberg says citizenship questions are "absurd"

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Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg has dismissed as “absurd” speculation he is a dual citizen, saying his family were stateless when they arrived from Hungary after World War II.

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The federal energy minister is the latest senior government figure facing questions over his citizenship, after Senate President Stephen Parry this week bowed out of parliament over his British links.

“When my mother and her sisters and her parents entered Australia after the war their status was ‘stateless’,” Frydenberg said today.

“It is absurd to think that I could involuntarily acquire citizenship of a foreign country from a stateless mother and grandparents.”

Hungary has rules that automatically confer citizenship by descent, following a bid to address the plight of stateless Jews who fled the Holocaust.

Frydenberg’s mother was born in Hungary in 1943 and arrived in Australia with her parents when she was seven after spending time in a refugee camp.

He said it was neither rational nor humane that Hungary could purport to make his mother a citizen against her will after rendering her stateless.

Frydenberg said given his family background, he would be required to initiate and undertake a lengthy and formal application and interview procedure in order to be considered a Hungarian citizen.

“Neither I nor anyone on my behalf has ever made such an application or engaged in such a procedure.”

Dual citizenship would make him ineligible to be in parliament and threaten the Turnbull government’s slim majority.

Stephen Parry’s resignation has fuelled growing calls for an audit of the citizenship status of all MPs.

Conservative Liberal MP Kevin Andrews is among those pushing for an audit, insisting it was time to lance the “festering sore”.

“We need to cut through this because, as a matter of principle, members of parliament should uphold the constitution,” Andrews told ABC TV on Friday.

“This has now become a festering sore for the government. We can’t talk about anything else. We need to get this resolved.”

Labor has so far resisted calls for an audit, but leader Bill Shorten is reportedly softening his stance, believing the opposition has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Thursday revealed Parry had confessed to him weeks ago about possibly being a dual UK-Australian citizen.

Labor has accused the Turnbull government of a “cover-up” over the matter.

Malcolm Turnbull, who will be in Perth today, insists the best way to deal with the citizenship issue engulfing parliament is for a bipartisan committee to come up with solution.

– AAP

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