Australia deputy PM caught in dual citizenship crisis

SYDNEY: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s political future was in doubt on Monday after it emerged he may be a dual citizen, placing the conservative government’s slim parliamentary majority at risk.
Australia does not allow dual citizens to sit in parliament, meaning Joyce’s revelation that he possibly holds New Zealand citizenship has major implications for the government.
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 about the news he may be a dual citizen.
“I’ve always been an Australian citizen born in (regional city) Tamworth. Neither me or my parents had any reason to believe that I may be a citizen of any other country.”
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 might have New Zealand citizenship, by descent, but did not quit cabinet or parliament and instead referred his election to the High Court.
“The New Zealand High Commission contacted me to advise that on the basis of preliminary advice from the department of internal affairs… considered that I could be a citizen of New Zealand by descent,” he said. — AFP