Labor’s Aston candidate Mary Doyle may have filled out her pre-election documents incorrectly not once but twice.
On her eligibility checklist for last year’s federal election and Saturday’s byelection, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Doyle selected “not applicable” to a question that asked about the citizenship of current and former spouses.
Labor candidate for Aston Mary Doyle. Credit:Paul Jeffers
The electoral commission forms warn those who provide false or misleading information can face fines of up to $12,000.
Candidates are advised to tick ‘N/A’ if they don’t have a current or former spouse. Despite making this selection, Doyle has openly talked about working with young children during her marriage – and following her divorce – as key reasons for running for Labor.
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) eligibility forms have come under intense scrutiny in recent years due to the 2017 dual-citizenship crisis. That saga resulted in nine senators and two members of the House of Representatives being disqualified from parliament.
Section 44 of the Australian Constitution bars federal politicians from holding foreign citizenship. Dozens of nations grant citizenship by marriage – or did so in recent decades – and in a number of cases the conferral is automatic.
Doyle mentioned her previous marriage at her campaign launch in Melbourne’s outer east earlier this month.
“We aspired to get ahead and pay off our mortgage,” she told a crowd of more than 100 people including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. “We needed both of our incomes.”
And in an interview for the May 2022 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News, Doyle said she was “married for many years, but not any more”.
“My ex-husband and I first got together in 1992, and we married in 1998,” she said. “He and I are on very good terms and still get together with our kids for the occasional meal, and we have had Christmas brunch together as a family every year since we separated,” she told the paper.
Question seven of the AEC’s qualification checklist asks: “Do you know which citizenships have been held by each of your current and former spouses and similar partners? (If you do not have a current or former spouse or similar partner, please mark the ‘N/A’ box.)”
The same document states: “If you provide information in this checklist that you know is false or misleading, you may commit an offence against the Criminal Code with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 12 months, $12,600, or both.”
Asked if Doyle made a mistake on her forms, and to clarify her ex-husband’s citizenship status, a Labor spokesman said: “If elected, Mary Doyle will make a fantastic member for Aston. She meets every requirement for election.”
A spokesperson for the AEC said: “As with all facets of a byelection’s conduct, people can submit inquiries and complaints to the AEC for review with appropriate supporting information.”
Doyle’s main rival, Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell, declined to comment on her opponent’s pre-election documents.
Earlier this week, Labor accused Campbell of hypocrisy for claiming tens of thousands of dollars in ratepayer-funded childcare entitlements while criticising the Albanese government’s expanded subsidies.
Saturday’s byelection was called to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of former Coalition minister Alan Tudge. The Liberals held the seat at the last election by a margin of 2.6 per cent.
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