Barnaby Joyce refers concerns about his citizenship to the High Court

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has told parliament he will ask the High Court to consider whether or not is he is eligible to remain in parliament because he it potentially a New Zealand citizen.

Making a statement to parliament Joyce said he would be remaining in his roles as Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader, and advice from the Solicitor General suggests that he will not be required to resign.

The Nationals leader is not on any list of New Zealand citizens, but New Zealand’s High Commissioner has informed the MP that they may consider him to be New Zealander because his father was born in New Zealand.

“Last Thursday afternoon the New Zealand High Commission contacted me to advise that on the basis of preliminary advice from their department of internal affairs which had received inquiries from the New Zealand Labor Party they considered that I may be a citizen by descent of New Zealand,” Joyce told Parliament.

“Needless to say I was shocked to receive this information. I have always been an Australian citizen, born in Tamworth, just as my mother and my great-grandmother was born there 100 years earlier.

“Neither I, nor my parents, have ever had any reason to believe that I may be a citizen of any other country.”

“I was born in Australia in 1967 to an Australian mother – I think I am 5th generation.

“My father was born in New Zealand and came to Australia in 1947 as a British subject – in fact we were all British subjects at that time.

“The concept of New Zealand and Australian citizenship was not created until 1948.

“Neither my parents nor I have ever applied to register me as a New Zealand citizen. The New Zealand Government has no register recognising me as an New Zealand citizen.

“The Government has taken legal advice from the Solicitor-General – on the basis of the Solicitor-General’s advice, the Government is of the firm view that I would not be found to be disqualified by the operation of s44(1) of the Constitution from serving as the Member for New England.

“However to provide clarification to this very important area of the law for this and future Parliaments I have asked the Government to refer the matter in accordance with s376 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns.

“Given the strength of the legal advice the Government has received, the Prime Minister has asked that I remain Deputy Prime Minister and continue my Ministerial duties.”

Joyce is the latest politician whose citizenship is in doubt following the resignations of Greens’ senators Scott Ludlum and Larissa Waters. Ludlum was born in New Zealand and discovered he was still a New Zealander, while Waters surprised to discover she was still a Canadian.

The Nationals Senator Matt Canavan has announced that his mother had registered him as a Italian citizen without his knowledge, and has stood down from his ministerial responsibilities and voting until his eligibility is clarified.

One Nationals Senator Malcolm Roberts has strenuously denied he is a British citizen, but following a slew of media reports showing evidence that he might be, leader Pauline Hanson insisted his case also be referred to the High Court.

OIP Staff

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