Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was a New Zealander and
Queensland senator Matt Canavan is Italian, the federal
government has conceded in its submission on dual citizenship
going to the High Court.
The fate of the Turnbull government hangs in the balance, with
Joyce part of its one seat majority in the lower house, with the
court due to hold an initial directions hearing this Thursday,
with Attorney-general George Brandis hoping the matter will be
considered on September 13 and 14.
The court will look at five cases, including two former Greens
senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, who were born overseas
and resigned, along with One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts,
Joyce and Canavan.
Two more cases, Nationals senator and minister Fiona Nash, and
South Australian independent Nick Xenophon, are also expected to
go before the court, but parliament needs to meet to refer them.
In the government’s submission to the High Court,
solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue says Canavan and Joyce “are,
or were, citizens of Italy and New Zealand respectively”.
Joyce renounced his Kiwi citizenship
– his father was born in New Zealand – within days of discovering
it last week, but section 44 of the Australian Constitution,
says a person is ineligible to stand for election they are “a
subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a
subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.
And the attorney-general’s plan to expedite proceedings also
rests on whether anyone challenges the government’s legal
opinions on each politician.
“In the event that any person who is the subject of a reference
disputes the conclusion reached in any of the expert opinions
anticipated above, the Attorney-General submits that that
reference may need to be determined separately from the other
references,” the government’s submission says
Senator Roberts has also yet to reveal the documentation he says
he has supporting his claim that he was not a dual
British-Australian national during last year’s election.
Fairfax Media has more of the government’s submission here.
Read more posts on Business Insider Australia