National Party's Fiona Nash is next Australian MP to reveal she has dual citizenship

Ms Fiona Nash speaking in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 21, 2017.
Ms Fiona Nash speaking in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on June 21, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - Another Australian politician has became engulfed in the country's dual citizenship crisis after discovering she is a British citizen, putting further pressure on the conservative government as the matter is passed to the High Court.

National Party Senator Fiona Nash said she sought legal advice from Britain on Monday regarding her citizenship status after it emerged her party's leader and Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce held New Zealand citizenship.

Similarly to Mr Joyce, Ms Nash was born in Australia but holds dual citizenship through descent, with both politicians claiming they were unaware.

"I was advised that a case worker at the UK Home Office was of the view that on the basis of the limited facts I had provided, I was a British citizen by descent through my Scottish-born father," she told the Senate late on Thursday (Aug 17).

Australia's Constitution bans dual citizens from Parliament on the basis that lawmakers should be loyal solely to the country in which they were elected.

Like Mr Joyce, Ms Nash has referred the case to the High Court for qualification.

 
 
 

"I can advise honourable senators, that on the basis of the Solicitor-General's advice, the PM has indicated to me that he sees no reason for me to stand aside from my portfolio responsibilities," she said.

The obscure rule was little known until recently, but it has major implications for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition government, which holds a slim one-seat majority in Parliament's Lower House.

But, unlike the Deputy PM who holds a Lower House seat, Ms Nash sits in the Upper House Senate.

The crisis kicked off in July when a minor Greens party senator stood down after revealing he had New Zealand citizenship.

It has since engulfed three more lawmakers from the Greens, minor party One Nation and the government, putting pressure on Mr Turnbull to stand down representatives until the matter is heard by the court.