Australia | High Court to rule on deputy leader's fate today

DUAL CITIZEN Senator Matt Canavan's future will be decided at 2:15pm tomorrow

DUAL CITIZEN Senator Matt Canavan's future will be decided at 2:15pm tomorrow. Leighton Smith

"I'm not going to cry in my beer and I'm going to get back to work".

The fate of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is most crucial to the government in an unprecedented political crisis.

Barnaby Joyce, the combative deputy to Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, was thrown out of parliament on Friday because of a 116-year-old constitutional ban on dual citizens being elected to parliament. He later found he was British because his father left Cyprus while it was a British colony.

Prior to becoming embroiled in it himself, Joyce had earlier poked fun at those who hadn't been aware of what countries they might be citizens of.

Disqualified senators are replaced by members of their own parties without an election so the balance of power is not altered.

He said he respected the court's verdict and apologised for the inconvenience the by-election would cause. But the High Court judges ruled ignorance was not an excuse in law.


The saga began for Mr. Joyce in July after media inquiries to his office made him aware he might hold dual citizenship through his father, James Joyce. 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.

Government lawyer Stephen Donaghue told the High Court judges the other five lawmakers should not be disqualified because they did not voluntarily acquire or retain citizenship of another country.

Joyce told lawmakers in August he had discovered he was a New Zealand citizen, throwing his position in parliament into jeopardy.

The seven lawmakers said they did not know they were dual nationals when they ran for election a year ago.

Mr Joyce says he will nominate in his New England seat, having renounced his NZ citizenship.

As soon as they found out, they took all reasonable steps required to sever their foreign ties, Walker said.

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