Australia deputy PM's job at risk over dual citizenship

2017-08-14 11:01
New Zealand (Picture: AFP)

New Zealand (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's political future has been called into question after it emerged he was a dual citizen, placing the conservative government's slim parliamentary majority at risk.

Australia does not allow dual citizens to sit in parliament, with New Zealand confirming on Monday its citizenship was automatically granted to Joyce through his father.

The revelation has major implications for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition government, which won national elections last year with 76 seats in the House of Representatives with a narrow one-seat majority.

Joyce has refused to step aside, instead referring the case to the High Court, saying that the solicitor-general was confident he would not be disqualified.

The obscure rule was little known until recently, but several lawmakers have fallen victim to it in recent months, leaving parliamentarians scrambling to clarify their ancestral ties.

"Needless to say, I was shocked to receive this information," Joyce told parliament after hearing he may be a dual citizen.

"I've always been an Australian citizen born in Tamworth. Neither me or my parents had any reason to believe that I may be a citizen of any other country."

Previous resignations

The dual citizenship crisis kicked off in July when the minor Greens party's co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam resigned after revealing he had dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship.

The crisis soon claimed other victims, including Canadian-born Greens senator Larissa Waters and Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who left cabinet after finding his mother signed him up to Italian citizenship in his 20s.

Joyce said on Monday he had been contacted by the New Zealand High Commission last week to advise him that he "could be a citizen of New Zealand by descent".

While Joyce, the leader of the Nationals party, was born in Australia, he told parliament his father was born in neighbouring New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1947.

A spokesperson for New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne that there was no doubt about Joyce's status, telling AFP that "as far as New Zealand law goes, he is a New Zealand citizen under the Citizenship Act".

"Mr Joyce was born to a New Zealand citizen father and even though [the father] migrated to Australia in the 1940s, that citizenship remained and he passed on the right of citizenship ...to his children."

He said citizenship was automatically granted and did not need an application.

High court case

Turnbull on Monday wrote to Labour opposition leader Bill Shorten to ask if his party wanted to refer any MPs over their citizenship status to the High Court so all the cases could be considered as a bloc, The Australian newspaper reported.

Canavan and minor party One Nation's Indian-born Malcolm Roberts have already had their elections referred to the court, which will decide if they had taken reasonable steps to renounce their foreign allegiances.

Almost half of Australia's 24-million population was born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas, according to last year's census.

Indigenous people account for about 3% of the population.

Read more on:    new zealand  |  australia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Africa
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.