Australian Senate President resigns over dual citizenship

Stephen Parry
Australian Senate president Stephen Parry [Courtesy:]

Stephen Parry, Senate President, Australian Parliament on Wednesday resigned over dual citizenship.

Mr. Parry became the latest victim of the dual citizenship fiasco as he received confirmation from the British Home Office that he is a British citizen by virtue of his father’s birthplace.

On Tuesday, Tasmanian Liberal Senator, Stephen Parry, revealed that he may be a British citizen by descent, meaning he would be ineligible to serve in federal Parliament under Section 44 of the Australian Constitution.

Parry’s father was born in Britain and immigrated to Australia in the 1950s.

Section 44 stipulates that anyone who is “under any acknowledgement of a foreign power shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives’’.

A High Court decision handed down last week found that five of seven “dual citizen’’ MPs and Senators were guilty of being in breach of the Constitution, meaning they were deemed ineligible to sit.

In the latest twist in comments published in Wednesday’s newspapers, Liberal MP Craig Kelly broke ranks from government counterparts in backing an audit to settle the debacle once and for all.

“There’s virtually an informal audit being done by the media, which is like a death of a thousand cuts.

“I think the best way to bring this to a head, to draw a line in the sand, let’s have a full audit of everyone’s record, put this behind us and move on and then, going forward, everyone will be crystal clear what the rules are,’’ Mr. Kelly said.

Putting further pressure on the government to act was the fact that backbenchers from both sides of politics had also come out in support for an audit.

Opposition Labor MP, Meryl Swanson, told ABC radio that the Australian people “need to be sure that everyone has eligibility,’’ while Nationals MP Llew O’Brien said that he “wouldn’t have an issue’’ with an audit.

Mr. Butin spite growing support for an audit, government, Senator Eric Abetz was less enthused by the idea.

He said the onus was on federal representatives to “do the right thing.’’

“I would simply call on all of them to do the right and honorable thing and follow the principled lead of the President of the Senate, Senator Stephen Parry,’’ Mr. Abetz said.

Mr. Abetz also said it was likely former Liberal senator Richard Colbeck would replace Senator Parry, and said he was confident he would “hit the ground running.’’

Mr. Colbeck was bumped down the Tasmanian Liberal Senate ticket in a factional dispute ahead of the last election.

The most high-profile casualty of last week’s dual citizenship High Court decision was Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who was found to be a dual Australia-New Zealand citizen.

Mr. Joyce had since renounced his New Zealand citizenship, meaning he would need to contest a by-election in his seat of New England in order to regain entry into Parliament.


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