Liberal Senator Ben Small resigns over potential dual nationality

Liberal Senator Ben Small has resigned from the Australian Parliament after he realised he was in breach of Section 44 of the constitution.

The Western Australian senator was unaware that he qualified to apply for dual New Zealand citizenship. Small is up for re-election and is placed third of the Liberal ticket behind Senators Michaelia Cash and Dean Smith.

Small, who replaced Senator Mathias Cormann in 2021 via a casual vacancy, became aware of his ineligibility to sit in the Australian parliament when the party were conducting checks ahead of the election.

“While the question of my ineligibility to have been appointed to a Senate casual vacancy would need to be confirmed by the Court of Disputed Returns, I believe that my circumstances are sufficiently clear and it is most appropriate that I promptly resign from the Senate myself,” Small said on Friday.

Small is eligible for New Zealand citizenship because his father was born there. His declaration has left people wondering why it wasn’t picked up when he was put forward as the party’s replacement for Cormann last year. If the Liberals get the numbers to hold three Western Australian senators, and Small is returned to Canberra, he will not be able to join parliament until 1st July.

In 2017 several members of parliament were forced to resign from parliament when it was revealed they held dual citizenship. Among them now Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, the Liberals John Alexander and Stephen Parry ,The Greens’ Scott Ludlum and Independent MP Jacqui Lambie.

Small said he’d acted quickly once it was confirmed late on Thursday that he was eligible for dual citizenship. He renounced his right to New Zealand citizenship and informed Senate President Slade Brockman of his resignation.

“I remain strongly committed to fighting for the issues that matter to Western Australians, especially the small businesses across WA whose interests I have championed.

“Now that any questions around my eligibility have been resolved, I look forward to continuing to campaign across WA as a candidate for the Senate and to ensuring the Morrison Government can continue to implement our plans for an even stronger Australia.”

OIP Staff

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