Citizenship row forces senator with ‘no love for bagpipes’ to quit
0 Jacqui Lambie has resigned as a senator, barred because of her Scottish-born father An Australian senator has admitted she has “no love for the bagpipes” after resigning from parliament for having dual citizenship through her Scottish-born father.
Jacqui Lambie – an independent senator for the island state of Tasmania – tearfully quit yesterday.
She has become the eighth politician to leave the Australian Parliament in recent months over a 116-year-old constitutional ban on dual nationals running for office that threatens to bring down the country’s government.
Ms Lambie stepped down one day after the Senate set a 1 December deadline for Australian-born senators to provide documented evidence they had not inherited the citizenship of an immigrant parent or grandparent.
Her father was born in Scotland, granting her automatic British citizenship by descent. “It is with great regret that I have to inform you that I had been found ineligible by way of dual citizenship,” Ms Lambie told the Senate in an emotional farewell speech.
“I love my father to death and hope to not blame him for this.”
Ms Lambie later told ABC Radio: “I don’t know who feels worse – me or my dad. I think we’re both gutted. We’re not sharing love for the bagpipes this morning.”
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition could lose two seats in by-elections next month after government politician John Alexander resigned from Parliament last week because he had likely inherited British citizenship from his Englishborn father.
Kristina Keneally, a Las Vegas-born former New South Wales state premier, announced yesterday she would run as a candidate for the opposition Labor Party against Mr Alexander in a 16 December by-election for his Sydney-based seat. Ms Keneally has renounced her US citizenship. Mr Alexander must shed his British citizenship by the date of the by-election.
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 growing uncertainty over how many by-elections might result from the political crisis and which party might end up forming government.
The eight politicians who have lost their jobs were dual citizens of Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Those countries are also members of the British Commonwealth and share the Queen as head of state. The affected politicians have included deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.