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Australia dual citizen saga: Court to hear cases in October

24 Août 2017

Tony Windsor, the former independent MP and rival to Barnaby Joyce, has been allowed to join the citizenship case being heard in the high court by chief justice Susan Kiefel, who has set down hearings in October.

The parliament has already referred Nationals senator Matt Canavan, Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, as well as Mr Joyce, the deputy prime minister and Nationals leader, to the court.

Since UK law changes came into force on January 13, 2010, anyone born before 1983 with a British-born mother has been able to gain UK citizenship by registration.

Mr Joyce, whose father was born in New Zealand, did not renounce his New Zealand citizenship until earlier this month saying he was unaware he was a citizen until it was raised by the media.

Mr Donaghue said the cases of Senator Canavan, Mr Joyce and Ms Waters were different to those of Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam.

Justice Kiefel asked the Solictor-General whether there would be an "issue of governance" if the matter was heard in October, but Dr Donaghue said there was not.

The court will decide whether the Citizenship Five can stay in Parliament or whether recounts and a by-election are required.

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Canavan's barrister, David Bennett, said he planned to produce evidence to show a "ridiculous" number of Australians, as much as 50% of the population, would be ineligible to run for parliament if citizenship-by-descent rules of foreign countries were held against his client. "We would say it is of the slenderest of connections", Mr Bennett told the court.

'The sort of citizenship, if it has been bestowed upon me, is a colonial procurability, ' he said.

The court heard on Thursday that Mr Roberts began the process of revoking his British citizenship about the time he stood for election.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is offering the federal government a "peace treaty" over the citizenship crisis that has embroiled seven MPs and senators and left Malcolm Turnbull's one-seat majority hanging in the balance.

"We have very clear advice from the Solicitor General, that citizenship by descent is not something that would disqualify you from sitting in the House of Representatives or the Senate, unless of course you'd taken steps to obtain that citizenship".

The Government has said it is confident of the court's support in both cases but still has some delicate political matters to juggle in the meantime.

Under section 44 of the constitution a person is incapable of being elected to the parliament if they are a "citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power".

Australia dual citizen saga: Court to hear cases in October