Dual national conflict
British-descent Lambie is latest in Aussie dual citizenship crisis
Aussie Parliament loses its eighth lawmaker over constitutional ban.
An independent Australian senator who is British by descent became the eighth lawmaker to leave Parliament in recent months over a 116-yearold constitutional ban on dual nationals running for office that threatens to bring down the government.
Jacqui Lambie tearfully resigned a day after the Senate set a Dec 1 deadline for Australiaborn senators to provide documented evidence that they had not inherited the citizenship of an immigrant parent or grandparent.
Lambie said the British Home Office advised her on Tuesday that her Scottish-born grandfather had not renounced his citizenship after migrating to Australia, making her and her father British.
“It is with great regret that I have to inform you that I had been found ineligible by way of dual citizenship,” Lambie told the Senate.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition could lose two seats in by-elections next month after government lawmaker John Alexander resigned from Parliament last week because he had likely inherited British citizenship from his English-born father.
Kristina Keneally, a Las Vegasborn former New South Wales state premier, announced on Tuesday that she would run as a candidate for the opposition Labour Party against Alexander in a Dec 16 by-election for his Sydney- based seat, having renounced her US citizenship. Alexander must shed his British citizenship by then.
Australia is rare if not unique in the world in banning dual nationals from sitting in Parliament. Pressure is growing to reform the constitution amid the growing uncertainty over how many by-elections might result from the current crisis.
The eight lawmakers who have lost their jobs so far were dual citizens of Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Like Australia, those countries are members of the British Commonwealth and share a head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. When the constitution came into effect in 1901, decades before Australian citizenship existed, any British subject was entitled to stand for the Australian Parliament.
The House of Representatives is expected to also set a deadline for its lawmakers to prove they are solely Australian when it next sits from Nov 27.
Any lawmakers who remain under a cloud after declaring their citizenship status would be referred to the High Court to decide whether they were legally elected. A series of by-elections that could change the government could be scheduled early next year.
Tearful: Lambie reacting after her resignation.