News Labor candidate for Hughes withdraws over Section 44 eligibility

Labor candidate for Hughes withdraws over Section 44 eligibility

Labor must find a new candidate to take on Craig Kelly in Hughes after Peter Tsambalas withdrew. Photo: AAP
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Labor is scrambling to find a replacement candidate for the federal seat of Hughes in Sydney’s south after local teacher Peter Tsambalas withdrew over section 44 citizenship concerns.

The ALP’s search for a new contender in the hotly contested seat comes just days before an election is likely to be called.

Mr Tsambalas was preselected unopposed by ALP branch members in January but was not officially endorsed as he was waiting for notification from Greek authorities he had officially renounced his Greek citizenship, The Guardian has reported.

Mr Tsambalas was born in Australia and has Australian citizenship but acquired dual citizenship through his migrant parents.

Such a situation triggers section 44 of the constitution, which says a person is ineligible to run for federal Parliament if they are “under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power”.

“My team and I put every effort into resolving the citizenship question but it is clear we will not get there in time,” Mr Tsambalas told the Guardian on Thursday.

“I now look forward to giving whatever assistance I can to the successful Labor candidate in this important election.”

Hughes is held by former Liberal Craig Kelly with a 9.3 per cent margin.

Mr Kelly resigned from the Liberals over controversial views on COVID-19 and is now running for the United Australia Party.

Two community independent candidates are also running in Hughes– Georgia Steele and Linda Seymour.

In 2017, after several federal politicians were referred to the High Court over their Section 44 eligibility, the court ruled that a candidate must take reasonable steps to renounce any dual citizenship.