This photo taken on July 5, 2016 shows Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (R) listening to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L) during a press conference in Sydney. (By AFP)
Australia’s deputy prime minister has emerged to be a dual citizen, causing a headache for the conservative government in Canberra which holds a slim one-seat parliamentary majority.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told parliament on Monday that officials in New Zealand had informed him he could be a “citizen by descent” of that country through his father, who had moved to Australia in 1947.
Joyce is the leader of the National Party, the junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition.
Australian law does not allow “a citizen of a foreign power” to run as a member of parliament.
If Joyce is disqualified, Turnbull, whose government has only a one-seat majority, risks losing its grip on power.
Turnbull wrote an open letter to opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, asking for his help.
He said it was high time the High Court clarified the scope of dual citizenship and determined whether a “citizen by descent” was included in the law.
“With around half of all Australians having a foreign-born parent and with many foreign nations having citizenship laws which confer citizenship by descent, regardless of place of birth, the potential for many, possibly millions of Australians unknowingly having dual citizenship is considerable,” he wrote in the letter.
“The Australian people must have confidence in our political system and resolving any uncertainty is vital,” Turnbull wrote.
Shorten, however, said all Labor MPs had been properly vetted before running for parliament.
The High Court is now considering the futures of five MPs, with August 24 already set as the date to hear cases involving Senator Canavan, former Greens Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.

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