The population of Australia engaged in a collective face palm when we learned that our Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is actually a citizen of New Zealand. His dual citizenship, which by definition, made him ineligible to serve under section 44 of the Australian constitution, 13 years after first being elected to parliament.
In July, Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, resigned after discovering his dual-citizenship, triggering a series of resignations. Over the past few months, fellow Greens senator, Larissa Waters resigned, deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce was ruled ineligible by the High Court, as well as Fiona Nash, Malcolm Roberts, Stephen Parry, John Alexander, and Jacqui Lambie.
In particular, it's awkward because when Greens senators Ludlam and Waters were found to be dual citizens, Joyce was adamant the issue is "black and white," and "ignorance is not an excuse".
Barnaby previously: "You can’t be a member of parliament & have dual citizenship- it's black & white." You know what else is black & white pic.twitter.com/r7rCYb963z
— James Jeffrey (@James_Jeffrey) August 15, 2017
But for countless Australians... ignorance is definitely an excuse. There are possibly thousands of people who never realised they were citizens of another country until the citizenship fiasco in parliament made them quietly search the little known website 'www.google.com' with the question, 'hi, yes, excuse me, but has my entire life been a lie?'
I know this, because I am one of them. And yes, I'm furious at my dad because WHAT IF I HAD BEEN ELECTED PRIME MINISTER? IMAGINE WHAT KIND OF TROUBLE I COULD BE IN RIGHT NOW.
In most cases, it's actually eerily simple to find out whether you're a dual citizen - and it's completely understandable for you to be one without ever realising.
Depending on the country, there are three ways you could be a citizen:
- Citizenship by birth in a country
- Citizenship by descent
- Citizenship by migration
The first two scenarios are the ones that have posed an issue for our politicians. But different nation states have their own laws about what qualifies a person to be a citizen. And some are far more lenient that you'd expect.
Listen: Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Jessie Stephens discuss Larissa Waters' resignation on account of her dual citizenship. Post continues after audio.
For example, Australians are most likely to have English ancestry (36.1 per cent) and you can check whether this translates to citizenship at the UK Government website.
The site asks you just THREE QUESTIONS, which then determine the likelihood that you're a British citizen, as well as details about cases where citizenship won't apply.
This is the way I found out I could very well be a dual citizen. My dad was born in England before 1 January 1983, making him a British citizen, and he and my mum were married when I was born. THEY'RE THE RULES.
The New Zealand government website also has a simple online tool for determining whether you're a citizen. In three goddamn questions, Barnaby Joyce could've had a clear answer to the question he's now in a lot of trouble for.
Likewise, more than one in ten Australians have Irish ancestry, and Ireland's Citizen Information website provides a clear guide on what circumstances do and do not constitute citizenship.
Guys, if you were born in Ireland on or before 31 December 2004, you just ARE an Irish citizen. Who knew?!
There are certain countries, like China, that don't recognise dual nationality. But as our politicians have shown us, it's quite possible you could be a citizen of Canada, or Britain, or New Zealand, or Italy, without knowing.
In a representative democracy, she argued it makes sense for our government to reflect the "multicultural nature of society".
And to be honest, I'd personally like to be eligible for Prime Minister, please.