Published: Tue, October 31, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Liberal senator caught in citizen trap

Liberal senator caught in citizen trap

He has contacted United Kingdom authorities to check if he holds dual citizenship because of his British-born father.

Due to a century-old law, the president of the Senate may be disqualified from parliament if he finds he has dual citizenship.

Another Australian politician said he may have to quit Parliament because of dual citizenship, days after a High Court ruling was thought to have ended the crisis.

The court disqualified five lawmakers on Friday because each was found to hold citizenship of Australia and another country and the constitution bans dual citizens from Parliament.

Just when the Coalition was trying to put the dual citizenship debacle that threw Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce out of parliament to face by-election, as well as costing deputy leader Fiona Nash her job, another senior Turnbull government member, Senate President Stephen Parry, has revealed he may be a British citizen and be forced to resign.

Astonishingly, Parry, a senator since 2004, only sought formal advice from British authorities yesterday, The Australian reports, more than three months after the issue first emerged when senators Ludlam and then Waters announced their resignations in mid-July.

It led to Australia's centre-right government losing its one-seat majority in the Lower House of Representatives.

"After the unanimous ruling handed down by the High Court of Australia on Friday, there is now absolute clarity about the application of Section 44 of the Australian constitution", Parry said in a statement on Tuesday. Parry said he had always regarded his father as Australian, particularly as he served in the Australian Army Reserve, but that he had now sought clarification from the British Home Office.

A replacement for Parry would be chosen through a recount of votes from last year's election.

He said his late father had moved to Australia from Britain as a boy in 1951, and that he was born in Tasmania in 1960.

Mr Parry now holds the highest position in the Australian Senate, which he could be forced to resign from if the UK's foreign office confirms he is a citizen.

"I would further resign as a senator for the state of Tasmania", he said.

One opposition Labor senator, Sam Dastyari, made a joke of the situation on Twitter.

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