What Barnaby Joyce said when other politicians got caught out on dual citizenship rules

Graphic credit: brandsoftheworld.com
Graphic credit: brandsoftheworld.com

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce referred himself to the High Court after it was revealed he inherited dual citizenship through his father, who was born in New Zealand.

But he’s not the first politician to get caught up in a citizenship drama in recent months.

Since July, four other politicians have been caught out – Greens senators Scott Ludlum (New Zealand) and Larissa Waters (Canada), Nationals MP Matt Canavan (Italy) and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts (United Kingdom).

The Greens senators stepped down and Mr Canavan stood aside from as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia while the matter goes before the High Court. Mr Robert’s case will also go before the High Court.

As the Deputy Prime Minister and a man who is always good for a colourful quote, it’s only natural that Mr Joyce was asked for his thoughts on the matter.

Here’s what he said.

Regarding Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum

“You’ve got to be really careful, if you start throwing stones when something was an honest oversight because you bet your life the stone will come back and hit you.

“Unfortunately that’s the law. It’s like if you’re driving down the road without a licence and you get pulled over, well you’re in a spot of bother.

“They were members of parliament, but it’s quiet clear on Section 44, you can’t be a member of parliament and have dual citizenship - it's black and white.  

“I don’t think it is [time to have a look at Section 44 of the constitution], I think you've just got to do your homework and make sure you're not a citizen of two countries when you stand for parliament.

“Now Larissa said she believed that was not the case, and I’m sure that would be the outcome for Scott Ludlum, but unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse.

“There is nothing malicious about it, I don’t think they were being sneaky, but they were outside what Section 44 explicitly says.”

When Nationals MP and close friend Matt Canavan announced he would step aside from his Cabinet position, because his mother had applied for Italy citizenship on his behalf

“It was without a shadow of a doubt that we never believed that this would be the chain of events because this has happened without his consent

“And he was 25 years old at the time. And without his knowledge. He never signed a form. And, of course, one would presume that if something happens without your knowledge, and without your consent, then it's probably an invalid process.

“This was something that, two days ago, took us all by surprise when we found out that he was registered as an Italian citizen. That's not saying that the registration is valid.

“That's still got to be checked, that it's actually valid, because the premise being can you be signed up for something you never signed up for?

“The premise being, how can you be signed up for something you never signed up for? That you never actually knew about?”

“You can use the hypothetical that if Libya decided they were going to sign me up as a Libyan without my knowledge, that I would be Libyan. It's an absurdity.

“My grandmother is English. I'm working on the presumption I'm not English. I've never been to England.”

When asked if the government would request Malcolm Roberts to provide documents regarding his citizenship

“Obviously if we have a suspicion (about Senator Roberts), we’ll check it up.”