On Tuesday’s instalment of the TODAY Show, co-host Lisa Wilkinson challenged Attorney General George Brandis on his complete back flip when it comes to Australian politicians and dual citizenship.
Wilkinson found it peculiar Brandis opposed the notion that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce should resign from his position, after supporting Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s resignation for precisely the same reason last month.
“I don’t think we should shed too many tears of the consequences of Mr Ludlam’s own negligence”, Brandis told Sky News on July 16.
This morning, after quoting Brandis back to himself, Wilkinson asked, “Why is [Ludlam] any different from Barnaby Joyce?”
“Well, first of all,” Brandis said, “Mr Joyce was not negligent because he had absolutely no reason to believe that New Zealand citizenship law…”
Wilkinson swiftly replied, “But that’s ignorance. It is no defence.”
"That's not right either," Brandis said. "Let me finish my answer please. Mr Joyce had absolutely no reason to believe that New Zealand citizenship law would apply to him. Whereas Scott Ludlam was born in New Zealand."
Senator Ludlam resigned from the Senate on the 14th of July of this year, after barrister John Cameron found that he held dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship. Under section 44 of the Australian Constitution, this means that one is ineligible to hold office in Federal Parliament.
In a statement on The Greens website, Ludlam said, "I was born in Palmerston North New Zealand, left the country with my family when I was three years old, and settled in Australia not long before my ninth birthday. I was naturalised when I was in my mid-teens and assumed that was the end of my New Zealand citizenship."
Four days later, it was found that fellow Greens senator and deputy leader Larissa Waters was a dual citizen of Canada, and she too was forced to resign.
But this week it has emerged that Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, is also a dual New Zealand citizen, and the Coalition suddenly have an entirely new perspective on the issue.
Listen: What the hell is going on with dual citizenship? We discuss on Mamamia Out Loud. (Post continues...)
In July, upon the resignation of Senator Ludlam, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, "Obviously Senator Ludlam's oversight is a pretty remarkable one when you think about it — he's been in the Senate for so long."
In an interview with Channel Nine in July, Prime Minister Turnbull said, "It is pretty amazing, isn't it, that you have had two out of nine Greens Senators didn't realise they were citizens of another country.
"It shows incredible sloppiness on their part. You know, when you nominate for Parliament, there is actually a question — you have got to address that Section 44 question and you've got to tick the box and confirm that you are not a citizen of another country."
Meanwhile, Senator Joyce has served in the Senate for no less than 12 years.
Alongside Senator Matt Canavan, who held a dual Italian citizenship, two Liberal Senators have now stepped down because they "didn't realise they were citizens of another country."