Published: Sat, August 19, 2017
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

Australia's citizenship crisis spreads


Senator Wong has said Mr Ganley and Mr Hipkins had a discussion about the citizenship issue - which she wasn't aware of at the time - but the New Zealand MP was not asked to put in parliamentary questions.

Mr Xenophon, whose Nick Xenophon Team controls three seats in the Senate, has spent the past week denying any dual citizenship concerns despite having a Greek mother and a Cypriot father.

Along with Xenophon and Nash, the freaky mess around section 44 of the constitution has ensnared deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and Nationals senator Matt Canavan.

"I can advise honourable senators, that on the basis of the solicitor generals advice, the PM has indicated to me that he sees no reason for me to stand aside from my portfolio responsibilities", she said.

But Nash said she would not step down as a Cabinet minister until the High Court ruled whether she should be disqualified.

A third Australian government minister has been caught up in the dual citizenship crisis that has rocked the country's parliament, with Nationals senator Fiona Nash admitting she is a British citizen by descent.

Ms Nash is deputy leader of the National Party, the junior partner in Liberal Party Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's governing coalition.

Senator Nash is the sixth parliamentarian to be a dual citizen.

The only politicians to resign over their citizenship eligibility are Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters.

The dual citizen MPs will get their first hearing before the High Court next Thursday. Now, however, it has produced an unprecedented political and constitutional crisis.

The meaning of section 44 (i) has not been read by the High Court as an absolute bar on a candidate being a foreign citizen.

His father Theo was born in Cyprus, which was a British colony until 1960, and came to Australia a decade earlier on a British passport.

The furore spilled over the ditch after it emerged Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce holds New Zealand citizenship - something he has since revoked. That election backfired for the government, however, leaving it with a bare one-seat majority in the lower house and only 29 seats in the 76-member Senate.

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