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Australia's deputy PM could become the country's second politician to resign over dual citizenship

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 15 August 2017, 16:29 IST

The best thing about taking birth or having a parent from New Zealand or Canada is you can register as a citizen by descent and get a passport. However, this has become a curse for many Australian political leaders lately.

Deputy Greens leader, Scott Ludlam, who has been a member of the Australian Senate since July 2008, stepped down from Federal Parliament recently. This happened after he admitted that he has now become ineligible to sit in the Senate for his entire tenure because he holds dual citizenship. And while leaving the office, he quoted, "I will not fight to stay on in Parliament."

The saddest part was that Ludlam came to know about the dual citizenship only a week before he had put down his papers.

Another MP, Larissa Waters from the Australian Greens Party  was forced to resign after learning that she was a dual citizen. While leaving the office she said she was “devastated” to discover that she was a Canadian citizen and has been ineligible for the past six years.

Larissa was left teary-eyed while sharing her disqualification during a press conference. She said she had not been to Canada ever after she left it as a 11-month-old baby and in fact spent her growing-up years thinking that she is an Australian. However, she added that she takes full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight.

According to the Australian Constitution Section 44, one is disqualified from election to the Parliament of Australia if one holds a dual or plural citizenship.

On August 14 there was a new addition to the list, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. He is also a dual citizen, the media reported. The office of New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne confirmed to the Australian media that under New Zealand's law, a child born to a New Zealand national is automatically given citizenship.

Joyce revealed earlier that he may have New Zealand citizenship by descent, but he will still take his case to the nation's High Court. He told Parliament on Monday that he has received a legal advice that he hasn't breached any rules. Also, till the final verdict comes, he will remain as the Deputy Prime Minister. "Needless to say, I was shocked about this," he said on Monday. "Neither I, nor my parents have ever had any reason to believe I may be a citizen of another country." 

Joyce is the latest of several Australian politicians to be caught up in dual citizenship scandals, the BBC reported.

Although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote an open letter to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asking for help in resolving the dual citizenship saga, nothing much has been done about it.

First published: 15 August 2017, 16:23 IST