This afternoon, the High Court ruled Barnaby Joyce’s 2016 election invalid after it was found he was a dual citizen of New Zealand.
The court also ruled on the futures of the deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash, Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
Nash, Ludlam, Waters and Roberts were all deemed ineligible, while Canavan and Xenophon were the only ones found elibigle.
It’s messy for Turnbull, messy for government and messy for us. There’s a lot to unpack, a lot to make sense of and even more that’s up in the air.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Take me back to the start
OK, so, you may remember this all started with Scott Ludlam. On 14 July 2017, Ludlam resigned from the Senate after a barrister by the name of John Cameron told him he held dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship.
This immediately rendered him ineligible to hold office under section 44 of the Australian Constitution. That same week, his colleague Larissa Waters resigned from the Senate, admitting she too held dual Australian and Canadian citizenship. The dominoes, after that, quickly began to fall. Question marks hovered over the futures of Nash, Roberts, Canavan, Xenophon and Joyce – though it was only the Greens’ Senators who resigned, the others referring their case to the High Court and subsequently waiting for the verdict.
Interestingly, Joyce said today he felt in his “gut” the court would make the ruling they did, posing questions as to why he did not cave to pressure demanding he stand down earlier.
According to Professor Cheryl Saunders of the University of Melbourne, it’s not immediately clear why he chose to hang on for so long.
“He is the leader of the National Party, he may have had legal advice which gave him more heart than that,” Saunders tells Mamamia.
What did the High Court rule?
The court found Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce ineligible and will face a by-election on December 2 to see if he can keep his seat. It has also found Senators Roberts, Waters, Nash and Ludlam are ineligible. Only Matt Canavan and Nick Xenophon are eligible.
According to the High Court ruling, Xenophon was found eligible because although he is a British citizen, the type of citizenship he carries is a little different. It’s called a British Overseas Citizen (BOC), which is different to a full citizenship because he does not have the right to live in the UK. Interestingly, Xenophon had already announced he was quitting federal politics earlier this month to make a return to state politics in South Australia.
In Canavan’s case, the Senator argued it was his mother who put in his application for Italian citizenship – something he said she did without his knowledge – and that he was never actually an Italian citizen. The court accepted his argument.