A HIGH Court challenge to the election of Liberal senator Eric Abetz is set to be dropped by wealthy northern Tasmanian antiques dealer John Hawkins.
Counsel for Mr Hawkins, John Sackar QC, told the court yesterday he would seek leave to withdraw the petition, after his client received a document showing Senator Abetz had renounced his German citizenship.
The renunciation meant Senator Abetz was eligible for election in 2010 and thus could not be challenged in the High Court.
But an unrepentant Mr Hawkins said yesterday Senator Abetz’s renunciation was dated March 9, 2010.
He said it meant Senator Abetz had been ineligible, because of his dual citizenship, during the 16 years of his political career until that date.
“You cannot renounce what you haven’t got, so it means that Senator Abetz was a dual citizen and thus ineligible from 1994 to 2010,” he said.
“If he was a proper chap he would resign.”
The Australian Constitution prevents anyone who is a citizen of a foreign country, which includes holding dual citizenship, from being elected to, or sitting in the Australian Parliament.
Mr Hawkins said the election of Senator Abetz in 1994, 1998 and 2004 could only have been challenged in a 40-day window after each election.
His election in the 2010 election cannot be challenged because he was not a dual citizen at the date of the nomination for the August 21 election.
Senator Abetz said he had instructed his legal representatives to seek an order for costs.
“The likely discontinuance of the High Court petition against my re-election to the Senate is welcome,” he said.
“Under the rules of the High Court, the petitioner needs to advertise his intention to discontinue the proceedings brought against me.
“This will have to occur by the 30th of October.”
The matter has been set down before the High Court for November 15.
Mr Hawkins said the challenge had been money well spent and he had been vindicated because Senatior Abetz had been a dual citizen until March.
He also said he had a copy of a 1993 letter he wrote to the German Embassy which proved that he had taken further steps to ensure his German citzenship had been completely relinquished.
Senator Abetz told the Mercury he would provide a carbon copy of the 1993 letter, but it was not provided.
John Hawkins told Tasmanian Times ...
I am reserving my comments until The Death*
*A fox hunting term …
The history of the John Hawkins’ challenge, on Tasmanian Times: HERE