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Derryn Hinch cleared of constitutional breach

Senator Derryn Hinch will not refer himself to the High Court over a citizenship question. Photo: Andrew MearesCrossbench senator Derryn Hinch will not be referred to the High Court after advice from constitutional lawyers confirmed he was validly elected.
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Senator Hinch attempted to refer himself to the court this week after concerns were raised he might be in breach of section 44 of the constitution, which would have rendered him the latest casualty of the citizenship fiasco engulfing Parliament.

According to the Victorian senator, Attorney-General George Brandis informed him he had been cleared of any breach by the government’s legal experts.

It was revealed this week that Senator Hinch held a social security card number in the United States from his time living in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also eligible for a pension there.

On Saturday, he expressed relief and labelled the original revelations a “vindictive slur” from a “malevolent” person.

“I’m glad the government has accepted the same advice given to me this week by two august constitutional lawyers. I have never been entitled to the ‘rights and privileges’ of a foreign power,” Senator Hinch said in a statement.

“I offered to go to the High Court because, if I didn’t, critics would say ‘what are you hiding?’ It would have been a disgraceful waste of the High Court’s time and money – taxpayers’ and mine.”

The concern centred around whether the senator had fallen foul of the “entitlement” clause in section 44 of the constitution.

But his move to test his case before the High Court was dismissed by the government and opposition, who shared a view “that it was a waste of time”.

Senator Hinch has never held US citizenship and social security cards are issued as a matter of course without any citizenship benefits.

Seven MPs, including three Turnbull government ministers, have been found to be dual citizens. Five of the cases will face the High Court in October and the final two will be referred by the Parliament next week.

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