Wellington: The New Zealand government on Monday confirmed that Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is a dual citizen, the media reported. Dual citizens are not allowed to run for public office under Australia’s constitution, reports the BBC. The office of New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne confirmed to Australian media that under New Zealand law, a child born to a New Zealand national is automatically given citizenship.
Joyce revealed earlier that he may have New Zealand citizenship by descent, but said he will take his case to the nation’s High Court. He told parliament on Monday he received legal advice that he is not in breach of rules. He will remain as Deputy Prime Minister in the meantime. “Needless to say, I was shocked about this,” he said on Monday. “Neither I, nor my parents have ever had any reason to believe I may be a citizen of another country.” Joyce is the latest of several Australian politicians to be caught up in dual citizenship scandals, the BBC reported.
Two senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, were forced to resign last month over their citizenship status. Another two senators, Matt Canavan and Malcolm Roberts, will also have their eligibility decided by the High Court. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote an open letter to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asking for help in resolving the dual citizenship saga.
“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.