New Zealand’s internal affairs minister, Peter Dunne, has
confirmed Australian deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is a New
Zealand citizen under his country’s 1948 Citizenship Act.
Dunne told the media in New Zealand that Crown Law had checked
the circumstances and confirmed Joyce was a citizen.
The announcement will put pressure on the Nationals leader to
step aside from the Cabinet, like former minister Matt Canavan,
who resigned from the Turnbull ministry last month over concerns
that he may be a dual Australian-Italian citizen, in breech of
the Australian constitution. The High Court is due to hear the
Canavan matter on August 24.
Australian-born Joyce, whose father is New Zealand-born, is
referring his eligibility to sit in parliament to to the High
Announcing he could potentially be a Kiwi by descent in
parliament this morning, Joyce said he was staying on as a
minister and deputy PM at prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s
request based on “the strength of the legal advice the Government
has received” from the solicitor-general, which “is of the firm
view that I would not be found to be disqualified”.
In parliament today, Labor citizenship spokesperson Tony Burke
said that the High Court was making history because it was
effectively ruling whether the government could continue with a
majority of one and that Joyce should step aside as a minister
and deputy leader.
“If the Minister for Resources was able to stand aside even
though he had the Attorney General beside him claiming that he
had a strong case then why on earth is strong case the defense
for the Deputy Prime Minister? How on earth does that work? It
cannot be the case that the words of the Attorney General in
defending Senator Canavan and why he wouldn’t resign from
Parliament were correct, because they apparently had a strong
case, yet stood aside,” Burke said.
“But if it’s the Deputy Prime Minister, the person who’s the
architect of the Coalition agreement with the Prime Minister on
which the fate of this Government hangs that secret deal, then in
that situation, the rules all change.
“This is a Deputy Prime Minister who himself opened Parliament
today saying that he’s not sure whether he’s validly elected.
That’s why it’s being referred to the High Court. You don’t refer
something to the High Court because you think there’s no doubt;
you refer something to the High Court because you just don’t
know. And if you just don’t know, you should not be Deputy Prime
Minister of Australia right now. If you just don’t know, we
should not be relying on your vote, and we should not have a
situation where penalty rates were cut off the back of your vote,
where we don’t have a banking royal commission on the back of
Joyce joins four Australian politicians – two Greens, who
resigned and two hoping to hold onto their current jobs –
awaiting the court’s decision.
Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, who was a British
citizen, is also heading to the High Court, along with former
Turnbull government minister Matt Canavan, who stepped down from
Cabinet after discovering that his mother registered the
36-year-old Australian-born Queensland senator as an Italian
citizen a decade ago, but did not tell him.
Two Greens senators resigned from parliament last month after
discovering they were dual citizens because of their birthplace.
Section 44 of the Constitution bars people with citizenship in a
country other than Australia from standing for election.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to opposition leader Bill
Shorten today asking if he wanted to refer any Labor MPs to the
High Court too “in the national interest”.
Shorten has previously said that the party is confidence there
are no doubts over any of its MPs.
Read more posts on Business Insider Australia