Australia | High Court to rule on deputy leader's fate today

Fiona Nash

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been removed from parliament for being a New Zealander, putting the government's majority at risk.

Mr. Joyce said: "I respect the verdict of the court".

While the judges said it may be harsh to disqualify Australian-born candidates who had no reasons to believe they were not exclusively Australian, "those facts must always have been knowable".

Barnaby Joyce was one of seven politicians affected by a High Court decision which disqualified him because he held dual citizenship when he ran for election previous year.

The decision to disqualify Mr. Joyce means a by-election will be held for his electoral district on December 2, the earliest possible date.

Deputy Nationals leader Senator Fiona Nash, plus senators Malcolm Roberts, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were also ruled ineligible as the citizenship issue reached its end. He later found he was British because his father left Cyprus while it was a British colony. Unlike in the house, the ineligible senators' seats will be given to another member of their parties, leaving balance of power in the Senate unchanged.


"The decision of the court today is clearly not the outcome we were hoping for but the business of government goes on", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this afternoon.

Joyce could stand in a by-election, having renounced his Kiwi citizenship.

Speaking soon after the announcement of the decision, Joyce admitted he wasn't entirely surprised by the High Court's decision.

Three parliamentary investigations recommended in the 1980s and 1990s that the prohibition on dual citizens be removed from the constitution through a national referendum.

The seven lawmakers said they did not know they were dual nationals when they ran for election previous year.

The government had unsuccessfully argued in court that the phrase in the law "is a subject or a citizen...of a foreign power" should only refer to a person who has voluntarily retained that status.

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