World

Australian DPM's future in limbo

CANBERRA: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's political future is in doubt after it emerged he had dual citizen, placing the conservative government's slim parliamentary majority at risk.

Australia does not allow dual citizens to sit in parliament, with New Zealand confirming its citizenship was automatically granted to Mr Joyce via his father, who was born in New Zealand.

The revelation has major implications for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition government, which won national elections last year with 76 seats in the House of Representatives - a narrow one-seat majority.

Mr Joyce, who was born in Australia, has refused to step aside, instead referring the case to the High Court, saying that the solicitor-general was confident he would not be disqualified.

"Needless to say, I was shocked to receive this information," Mr Joyce told parliament.

The obscure rule was little known until recently, but several lawmakers have fallen victim to it in recent months, leaving parliamentarians scrambling to clarify their ancestral ties.

The dual citizenship crisis kicked off last month when the Greens' co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam resigned after revealing he had dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship.

The crisis soon claimed other victims, including Canadian-born Greens senator Larissa Waters and Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who left cabinet after finding that his mother had signed him up to Italian citizenship in his 20s.- AFP

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