Just when the Coalition was trying to put the dual citizenship debacle that threw Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce out of parliament to face by-election, as well as costing deputy leader Fiona Nash her job, another senior Turnbull government member, Senate President Stephen Parry, has revealed he may be a British citizen and be forced to resign.
The Tasmanian Liberal, who has a British-born father, is the eighth Australian politician caught up in the debacle, which saw the High Court last Friday declare five of seven MPs, including Joyce, Nash, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, and former Greens senators Scott Ludlum and Larissa Waters were in breach of the Constitution when they stood for election last year.
Astonishingly, Parry, a senator since 2004, only sought formal advice from British authorities yesterday, The Australian reports, more than three months after the issue first emerged when senators Ludlam and then Waters announced their resignations in mid-July.
Parry’s delay in dealing with the issue will cause further embarrassment for Malcolm Turnbull’s government, with the Prime Minister currently in Israel and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop standing in as deputy PM because Joyce, the former deputy, is no longer in parliament, yet remains leader of the Nationals.
The Australian says Parry, who earns nearly $350,000 annually, is informing senators this afternoon and will resign from the senate if the UK confirms he has British citizenship.
In a statement, the Senate President says Friday’s decision provided “absolute clarity” about Section 44 of the Constitution and that meant he “had cause to examine my citizenship status in relation to my late father having been born in the United Kingdom”.
He said yesterday was his first chance to write to the Home Office about his citizenship since the High Court decision.
Parry says his father moved to Australia as a boy in 1951 and “I always regarded my late father as Australian, particularly as he undertook his national service and participated as a member of the Australian Army Reserve and voted in every Australian election since adulthood”.
The revelation also raises questions about who else in the government, which lost its clear majority in the lower house when Joyce was ruled ineligible because he was also a New Zealand citizen by descent when he stood for re-election last year, may face similar problems and face a by-election as a result or be forced to leave the Senate.
The Australian has more here.
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