Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Australia: Constitutional crisis over deputy PM ruling

Barnaby Joyce Australia | High Court to rule on deputy leader's fate today
Erik Tate | 28 October, 2017, 01:06

"In my gut I thought this is the way it was going to go", Mr Joyce said.

Canavan was sworn back in as a minister for resources and northern Australia late Friday while Turnbull took over Joyce's portfolios of agriculture and water resources.

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.

Barnaby Joyce was one of seven politicians affected by a High Court decision which disqualified him because he held dual citizenship when he ran for election past year.

Since the 2016 election, Mr Turnbull has held onto power with a one-seat majority.

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

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

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"I respect the verdict of the court", Mr Joyce told reporters in Tamworth.

The Constitution prohibits dual nationals from being elected to office. But the High Court judges ruled ignorance was not an excuse in law.

In both cases, the lawmaker was born overseas and was disqualified from Parliament.

The seven judges rejected the government's argument that five of the lawmakers, including three government lawmakers, should be exempt from the ban because they had not voluntarily acquired or retained citizenship of another country. By convention his deputy would have taken over his responsibilities during his absence.

The court also ruled on the status of six other lawmakers in the Senate.

"If a person is not aware either that they are a dual citizen or of a significant prospect that they are, in our submission by definition that person can not have a split allegiance", Donaghue told the court.

Previously only two lawmakers had ever been caught out by the foreign citizen ban, although other dual citizens have nearly certainly served in the Parliament undetected.

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