Sixth Australian MP in eligibility trouble due to citizenship

A sixth Australian MP will have their eligibility for office decided by the nation's High Court over the issue of dual citizenship

Fiona Nash has asked a court to rule on her eligibility
Fiona Nash has asked a court to rule on her eligibility

The Turnbull government’s political crisis over dual citizenships has intensified, with the deputy leader of the National party, Fiona Nash, joining Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in referring herself to the high court – in her case, on the basis she has British citizenship by descent.

Nash revealed she is a UK citizen by descent because of her Scottish-born father in a short, unheralded statement to the Senate on Thursday evening just before the adjournment.

Australian politicians are not allowed to hold dual citizenship.

The dual citizenship by descent is triggered by her Scottish-born father. Nash, who was born in Sydney in 1965, said that her father was born in Scotland in 1927 and she had little contact with him after her parents divorced when she was aged eight.

Nash made it plain that like Joyce, but unlike the resources minister and Queensland senator Matt Canavan, she intended to remain in her leadership and cabinet roles.

Canavan, stepped down from cabinet when it was revealed he held dual citizenship, after he said his mother signed him up for Italian citizenship without his knowledge when he was 25.

Joyce said on Monday he may not be eligible to be in parliament after being told he may be a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand later said Joyce held citizenship as his father was born there. His mother was Australian and his father came to Australia in 1947 as a British subject.

Joyce said he would not resign or temporarily step down from office after being told by Australian Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue that he would likely be cleared by the High Court.

The High Court will begin hearings into Joyce's eligibility on 24 August. Should he be ruled ineligible, Turnbull would be forced to rely on independents to pass legislation.

Three other politicians will also have their eligibility tested in court as early as next week, namely far-right Senator Malcolm Roberts, who claims he renounced his UK citizenship, Scott Ludlam, who resigned as co-deputy leader of the left-wing Greens over his New Zealand status and another Greens co-deputy leader and Canadian dual national, Larissa Waters, who has also resigned.

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