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The deputy prime minister of Australia has become the latest politician to be caught up in a growing constitutional crisis over dual citizenship.
Barnaby Joyce was revealed to hold dual citizenship with New Zealand in a revelation that could lead to him standing down.
Under the constitution members of the House of Representatives and senators are barred from being dual citizens.
Mr Joyce, leader of the National Party, was given New Zealand citizenship by descent. He said he will take the case to the High Court. “I was shocked to receive this information,” he said. “I’ve always been an Australian citizen. I was born here, just as my mother and great grandmother were born here, 100 years earlier.
“Neither I, nor either of my parents, have had reason to believe I am a citizen of any other country.”
Mr Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1947. His son was born in New South Wales in 1967.
He added: “Neither my parents nor I have ever applied to register me as a New Zealand citizen. The New Zealand government has no register recognising me as a New Zealand citizen.”
Under New Zealand law a child born to a New Zealand national is automatically given citizenship.
Mr Joyce has told parliament that legal advice suggests he is not in breach of rules and will remain as deputy PM. However if he were to be removed it would increase the pressure on the government of Malcolm Turnbull, which holds a one-seat majority.
Mr Joyce’s status was revealed by the New Zealand government.
New Zealand’s prime minister Bill English said: “It is a matter for the Australian system to decide how Australian law applies in his case and how they deal with this issue. No one sets out to confuse the public with their citizenship.”
Last month Green party co-leaders Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were forced to resign over their citizenship status. Mr Ludlam was found to hold dual citizenship with New Zealand and Ms Waters with Canada. Resources minister Matt Canavan left the cabinet last month after discovering he held dual citizenship with Italy through his mother. Malcolm Roberts, from the One Nation party, also faces a legal eligibility test after he renounced his UK dual citizenship but this was not confirmed before his election.
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