Sixth Australian MP in eligibility trouble due to citizenship

Mr Joyce was a dual citizen of New Zealand where his father was born, while Senator Nash yesterday evening said she was a British citizen through descent.

Senator Gallagher said it was unacceptable Senator Nash had stayed quiet about her citizenship doubts since Monday.

She told Senate she had little contact with her father and was told she was not a dual citizen.

The government received legal advice on Senator Nash's situation on Thursday.

A third Australian government minister has been caught up in the dual citizenship crisis that has rocked the country's parliament, with Nationals senator Fiona Nash admitting she is a British citizen by descent.

Desperate to cling to office, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today repeated his assertion that the High Court will declare the three ministers eligible to remain in parliament.

Australia's constitution bars citizens of another country from standing for parliament, and there have been several resignations because of that in recent weeks.

Like Mr Joyce, Ms Nash said she would continue in her position until the High Court clarifies a section of Australia's constitution.

The dual citizen MPs will get their first hearing before the High Court next Thursday.

Critics of the constitutional rule argue it no longer suits the modern multicultural Australia, in which nearly half the population was born overseas or has at least one overseas-born parent.

Apart from the Nationals, the others to appear before the court will be One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts and two Greens senators, Scott Ludlam and Larisa Waters.

Nash's case illustrates how far section 44 (i) can reach. However, that case also found that "it would be wrong to interpret the constitutional provision in such a way as to disbar an Australian citizen who had taken all reasonable steps to divest himself or herself of any conflicting allegiance".

The furore spilled over the ditch after it emerged Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce holds New Zealand citizenship - something he has since revoked.

It also does not endanger the government's majority because she sits in the Senate.

"I believe there is only one way forward for this Parliament and that is for the Prime Minister to prorogue the Parliament, [and] effectively end this session pending the outcome of the High Court, pending any by-elections that may be necessary", Senator Bernardi said.

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