Dual citizenship threatens Australian government

The Deputy Prime Minister 'may be ineligible' for Parliament as he holds New Zealand citizenship

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce may be forced to step down
(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

A row about Australian government ministers who hold dual citizenship has intensified after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce conceded that he may "inadvertently" hold New Zealand citizenship. If he is forced to resign, the government's one-seat Parliamentary majority could be at risk.

The Australian constitution forbids citizens of any other country – including those who hold dual citizenship – from running for public office.

Joyce was born in Australia in 1967, but "under New Zealand law anyone born overseas to a NZ father between 1949 and 1978 is considered a "citizen by descent", Fairfax Media says. Joyce's father moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1947.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"The New Zealand high commission contacted the deputy prime minister last week to tell him that preliminary advice from the Department of Internal Affairs indicated he could be a citizen of New Zealand by descent," The Guardian reports. "On Monday afternoon the New Zealand government confirmed Joyce was a citizen."

The opposition Labor MP Tony Burke has suggested that the Australian government may not be lawful, as it holds power in the lower house of Parliament by just one seat.

"We have been here for twelve months making laws with a government that may or may not be legitimate," he said.

Joyce is the fifth Australian MP to have fallen foul of dual-citizenship rules in recent weeks. Two Senators have been forced to resign from their positions, while two other government MPs remain under a cloud over potential dual-citizenship, according to ABC News.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.