Published: Sat, October 28, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Deputise THIS: Barnaby Joyce responds to High Court citizenship decision

Deputise THIS: Barnaby Joyce responds to High Court citizenship decision

Australia's top court has ruled that the deputy prime minister is disqualified from his seat in parliament because he held dual citizenship when elected.

Speaking Friday, Turnbull said it was "clearly not the outcome we were hoping for" but denied that his government faces any instability in the absence of Joyce.

Mr Joyce's exit strips the government of its one-seat majority, but he could return through a likely by-election.

Joyce's ineligibility also raises questions about the decisions he made as a minister.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he is confident that the seven judges will not take a literal interpretation of a 116-year- old section of the constitution that bans "a subject or citizen of a foreign power" from sitting in Parliament.

The government argued that only New Zealand-born Scott Ludlam and India-born Malcolm Roberts should be disqualified.

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Labour is now in power in New Zealand following a tightly-fought general election which ended in Labour leader Jacinda Ardern forming a minority coalition government.

The Australian Constitution took effect in 1901 and only two lawmakers before now had ever been caught by the ban on dual nationals. But four of the seven now under a cloud - the three ministers and Nick Xenophon, leader of a minor party - are Australian-born and did nothing to become foreign citizens. Because of the way members of the upper house are chosen, replacing them will not require by-elections. He has renounced his New Zealand citizenship, so can stand as a candidate again.

The dual citizenship drama started in July when a lawyer tried to unseat an independent senator.

He said Matt Canavan would be restored to the cabinet immediately.

The High Court of Australia decision means three of the politicians, including Mr Joyce, are disqualified from office. He was born to Cypriot- and Greek-born parents and checked with both embassies to ensure he wasn't a citizen of those countries.

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