A string of Australian politicians have been rushing to check their citizenship status in recent weeks, as a constitutional rule which forbids dual nationality threatens their eligibility.
Section 44 of the nation’s constitution prohibits dual citizens from standing for election in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Yet shockingly, in the midst of the fiasco stands Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister, who has been confirmed as a New Zealand citizen.
Some Twitter users wasted no time in mocking Joyce’s oversight.
Former Green MP Scott Ludlam, who stood down after it was revealed he was born in New Zealand, chimed in with a friendly greeting.
kia ora barnaby— Scott Ludlam (@Scottludlam) August 14, 2017
Twitter user Daniel Carosome pointed to Australia’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Good news for Barnaby Joyce: in NZ he can marry whomever he likes.— Daniel Carosone â¬¡ 🇸🇪 🇮🇹 🇦🇺 (@redtwitdown) August 14, 2017
Joyce told Parliament of his shock at finding out about his Kiwi citizenship, after he was contacted by the New Zealand High Commission. His nationality was confirmed by New Zealand PM Bill English on Monday.
Although he was born in Australia, it is believed his father was New Zealand-born. He is now taking his case to the High Court but remains in his post following legal counsel – a move which has been criticised by some.
So one National Senator Matt Canavan resigns from Cabinet, says he wonât vote until High Court but Dep. PM. Joyce stays and will vote. Duh?— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) August 14, 2017
The constitution states that anyone who is “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power … shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives”.
The 116-year-old rule is no joke: three MPs have been forced out of their jobs, including Green Party MP Larissa Waters, along with Ludlam, and Joyce’s colleague Matt Canavan, who holds Italian and Australian citizenship.
It is with a heavy heart that I am resigning as Senator for Qld and Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens. https://t.co/DuplaZPi2h— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) July 18, 2017
Waters has since renounced her Canadian citizenship.
I'm no longer Canadian! & I have more to do in the Senate, so I'll nominate to recontest. In meantime we @QldGreens have state seats to win!— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) August 7, 2017
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull posted proof last month that he had renounced his British citizenship.
FYI rumour mongers: I renounced my UK citizenship in 1993 and here's the proof: pic.twitter.com/tHAeJeqo5T— Tony Abbott (@HonTonyAbbott) July 14, 2017
But the future of the Australian government hangs in the balance as its majority of one is threatened by Joyce’s potential resignation.
Some 28.5% of Australian residents (6.9 million people) were born overseas, including 25 federal MPs, according to last year’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.