NA­TION Greens left reel­ing as Wa­ters re­signs

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - RENEE VIELLARIS MICHAEL WRAY

A WOUNDED Greens leader Richard Di Natale has tried to re­as­sure vot­ers his party is not run by am­a­teurs af­ter los­ing his sec­ond codeputy to in­com­pe­tence in a mat­ter of days.

Queens­lan­der Larissa Wa­ters yes­ter­day emo­tion­ally re­vealed she too was in­el­i­gi­ble to be a se­na­tor be­cause she is a dual cit­i­zen.

Ms Wa­ters’ ad­mis­sion – just days af­ter her Kiwi col­league Scott Lud­lam made the same mea culpa – yes­ter­day sparked a flurry of over­seas- born Coali­tion and La­bor MPs to pledge they had re­nounced their for­eign cit­i­zen­ship. Twenty- three fed­eral par­lia­men­tar­i­ans were born over­seas.

A Govern­ment source said it was too early to de­ter­mine whether it would of­fer the Greens pairs when vot­ing, mean­ing their vot­ing power would not be di­luted, or use the cri­sis to their ad­van­tage to push through leg­is­la­tion.

The Se­nate will re­fer the two va­cated po­si­tions to the High Court sit­ting as the Court of Dis­puted Re­turns, which will or­der a re­count of the 2016 elec­tion bal­lot pa­pers.

For­mer Democrats Leader An­drew Bartlett, who was sec­ond on the Greens ticket, is tipped to re­place Ms Wa­ters.

Sec­tion 44 of the Con­sti­tu­tion makes it clear that a MP or se­na­tor can­not hold dual cit­i­zen­ship.

Flanked by her part­ner, in­fant daugh­ter and rad­i­cal Greens Bris­bane City Coun­cil­lor Jonathan Sri, Ms Wa­ters said even though she was born in Canada, she did not re­alise she was a Can- adian cit­i­zen. I left Canada as a baby and I’ve never been back. I had no idea that I was a Cana­dian cit­i­zen,’’ she said.

“My par­ents are Aus­tralian. They were there work­ing and study­ing briefly. I thought that when I was nat­u­ralised as a baby that was I was just an Aus­tralian.

“I’ve lived here al­most all of my life and I was dev­as­tated to dis­cover that in fact the law had changed a week af­ter I was born and I needed to have taken ac­tive steps to an­nounce what was my Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship that I was blithely un­aware of.

“With the shock an­nounce­ment by my friend Scott last week I im­me­di­ately took steps to check and was dev­as­tated to find that it might be a se­ri­ous prob­lem and I had some lawyers bless their hearts look over the week­end in great de­tail and we had con­fir­ma­tion for the Cana­dian High Com­mis­sion just yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.”

Cr Sri said: “This is a loss for Queens­land, right now there will be big banks min­ing cor­po­ra­tions and de­vel­op­ers who will be pop­ping the cham­pagne corks and say­ing, ‘ we’ve fi­nally got rid of her’ be­cause she was the one per­son who was stand­ing up to the big end of town”.

Se­na­tor Di Natale de­scribed the mat­ter as a “stuffup” and said the party’s co­con­ven­ers would un­der­take a “root- and- branch” re­view to en­sure it did not hap­pen again.

“We are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure that ... we strengthen our in­ter­nal party pro­cesses and come out of this big­ger and stronger and bet­ter,” he said.

La­bor se­na­tor Mur­ray Watt de­scribed the Greens as a “com­plete rab­ble”.

GONE: Se­na­tor Larissa Wa­ters an­nounces her res­ig­na­tion in Bris­bane yes­ter­day. Ms Wa­ters was born in Canada and had not re­nounced her cit­i­zen­ship. Pic­ture: AAP

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