REPORT: Former Senate president Stephen Parry warned a cabinet minister about his dual citizenship months ago

Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Former Senate president Stephen Parry may have been told to conceal his suspicion that he had dual citizenship, in breach of the Constitution, for months before his resignation from Parliament today.

The ABC reports that the Tasmanian Liberal senator warned a Turnbull government Cabinet minister in mid-August about his potential problem, but was told not to say anything, and now “feels betrayed and that his reputation is damaged”.

Parry has faced intense criticism for not flagging the problem earlier, having only revealed it on Tuesday after he wrote to the UK Home Office on Monday following last Friday’s High Court decision.

The court ruled deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, Nationals senator Fiona Nash and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, along with two former Greens senators, were ineligible to stand at the 2016 federal election because they were dual citizens.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, currently overseas, said he was “disappointed” Parry had not raised the issue earlier. The delayed revelation also embarrassed Attorney-General George Brandis, who, just a day before Parry sought clarification from the UK Home Office on his citizenship status, told the media “I have no reason whatever to believe that there is any other Coalition member who is in the same [dual citizenship] position”.

Parry’s father was born in the UK and the Home Office confirmed the senator of 13 years was a dual British citizen on Wednesday. Parry resigned from the Senate and his $350,000 job today, saying the High Court provided “absolute clarity” on his position.

The ABC reports that Parry was told to no reveal his situation based on the advice from Brandis that Joyce, who was a New Zealand citizen by descent, and others, would be given the all clear by the High Court. Prime Minister Turnbull made similar comments before the High Court sat. Nash’s father was born in Scotland, giving her UK citizenship. Only Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon were ruled eligible to stand by the court.

The ABC has more here.

While Turnbull and other senior government officials have resisted calls for an audit of the eligibility of all MPs, Sky News political reporter Samantha Maiden claims government sources have disclosed the reason is audit could see the government, which lost its one-seat majority when Barnaby Joyce was forced to leave parliament – he’s attempting to regain his seat at a December 2 by-election – lose further MPs, ending its rule and leading to a snap election when the Coalition is already well behind Labor in the polls.

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