Deputy Prime Minister ruled ineligible to sit in Australian Parliament
DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been ruled a Kiwi and ineligible to sit in the Australian Parliament, in a nation-stopping ruling by the High Court of Australia.
The High Court has also ruled Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash, Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Clarissa Waters, and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts ineligible.
However, Nationals senator Matt Canavan and crossbencher Nick Xenophon are eligible to continue to stay in Parliament.
Chief Justice Susan Kiefel read out the judgement to a packed, silent court.
Both the courtroom and overflow rooms in Canberra were full, with a sharp gasp when Justice Kiefel said Mr Joyce would have to face a by-election.
In a 44-page judgment, the court rejected arguments made by Attorney-General George Brandis, Mr Joyce and Senator Nash.
“Proof of a candidate’s knowledge of his or her foreign citizenship status (or of facts that might put a candidate on inquiry as to the possibility he or she is a foreign citizen) is not necessary to bring about the disqualifying operation of s 44(i),” the judgement read.
The court, in its judgment, also said while some may suggest it was “harsh” to disqualify dual citizens who were born in Australia and never had a reason to consider themselves citizens of other countries, nominating for a federal election should be enough of a reason for them to check.
“Nomination for election is manifestly an occasion for serious reflection on this question; the nomination form for candidates for both the Senate and the House of Representatives requires candidates to declare that they are not rendered ineligible by s 44,” the judgement reads.
HOW THE COURT RULED
● Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, deputy Nationals leader Senator Fiona Nash, former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts were “a subject or a citizen ... of a foreign power” at the time of their nomination for the 2016 federal election.
● Each was therefore incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives by reason of section 44(i) of the constitution.
● Nationals senator Matthew Canavan, who stood down from Cabinet, and independent Nick Xenophon were not disqualified from nomination for the election.
● Confirmed the ordinary textual meaning of s44(i) that an Australian citizen is not be prevented from standing for Parliament where it can be demonstrated that he or she took all steps reasonably required by foreign law to renounce his or her citizenship of a foreign power.
● Rejected the Commonwealth argument that s44(i) was subject to an implied mental element in relation to the acquisition or retention of foreign citizenship.
● There should be a by-election for the NSW seat of New England.
● The vacant Senate seats will be filled by a special count of ballot papers from the 2016 election.