Australian constitutional crisis triggered by former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate

Australia satellite plane
This is all a bit bizarre.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, together with four senators, has had his election declared null and void by the country’s High Court. There will be a by-election to fill the Deputy PM’s seat, which has been vacated by this ruling. There will also be recounts in the four senate seats.

All this was due to infringements of rules pertaining to dual citizenship. Australia’s constitution bans anyone holding dual citizenship from sitting in parliament. Mr Joyce discovered that he had joint New Zealand citizenship by descent from his father. He has since renounced this status and will fight the forthcoming by-election.

This is all a nightmare for Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbull, who holds power with a “waafer thin” majority.

And it seems all this was kicked off by one William Summers, a Melbourne-based blogger hailing from Norfolk who was once an assistant to Norman Lamb and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norfolk North West in 2010. William spotted that the Deputy PM was also a New Zealand citizen, pointed this out in a blog post, and the whole thing kicked off.

You couldn’t make it up!

William Summers tweets @william_summers

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Lachlan Woods 31st Oct '17 - 9:56am

    Just to make a slight correction: only one by-election will be occurring (in the seat of New England, where Barnarby Joyce was the MP). The remaining four seats were in the Senate, which means that there will simply be a recount of votes from the respective states. Most likely, it will be filled by the person that was next on the same party list as the Senator in question.
    Thankfully, we don’t need to all go back to the polling booth – Australia is a bit sick of voting at the moment (with state and local elections, as well as the ridiculous postal vote on marriage equality).

  • The Australian rule is that if the country you want to renounce has a mechanism for renunciation, you have to follow it; if they don’t, then you can make a formal statement to the Australian government that you wish to renounce that other citizenship but the other country won’t let you, and then you must do nothing to acknowledge the other citizenship (like getting a passport) thereafter, and it’s treated as being renounced.

    Still think that some country should pass a law automatically granting citizenship to anyone elected as an Australian MP, with a process for renunciation that takes one day longer than Australian MPs are elected for.

  • Daniel Carr 31st Oct '17 - 1:19pm

    @Richard Gadsden

    The Australian High Court considered that scenario in a prior s44 ruling and stated that were a state to confer citizenship just to disrupt parliament, it would not be grounds for an election to be annulled.

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