Australia's dual citizenship crisis: Will the Malcolm Turnbull government fall?

Posted August 19, 2017

Senator Nash was born in Australia but has a Scottish father.

"As Senator Nash admitted, she has known since Monday that she was a dual citizen, yet waited until one minute before the Senate rose for a two week break to inform the Parliament", she said.

Nash made it plain that like Joyce, but unlike the resources minister and Queensland senator Matt Canavan, she meant to remain in her leadership and cabinet roles.

Nash revealed she is a United Kingdom citizen by descent because of her Scottish-born father in a short, unheralded statement to the Senate on Thursday evening just before the adjournment.

Mr Hipkins' involvement led Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to say she would have a problem trusting a Labour-led government. The Sydney-born senator, who was first elected in 2005, is the minister for local government, regional development and regional communications.

She has represented the Nationals in the Senate since 2005, and has served as deputy leader of the party since February 2016.

Australia's constitution bans dual citizens from parliament on the basis that lawmakers should be loyal exclusively to the country in which they were elected.

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The instability was highlighted when right-wing Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi, who split from the Liberal Party earlier this year, called for parliament to be prorogued (suspended) by the governor-general until the constitutional crisis could be resolved by the High Court.

The only politicians to resign over their citizenship eligibility are Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters. Presumably Ms Nash will join the other five cases once Parliament resumes.

His father, Theo, was born in Cyprus, which was a British colony until 1960.

Nash's case illustrates how far section 44 (i) can reach.

The Prime Minister can ask the Governor-General to discontinue the session of Parliament, but at this point it's unlikely he'd want to do that.

Days after her leader, Barnaby Joyce, referred himself to the High Court over his New Zealand citizenship, Senator Nash made the shock announcement late on Thursday, at the end of a remarkable sitting fortnight in Parliament.

It also does not endanger the government's majority because she sits in the Senate.