Australian Liberal senator resigns over citizenship

Australian Liberal senator resigns over citizenship

West Australian Liberal Ben Small has to resign from the Senate after he became aware that he is a dual citizen of New Zealand.

Under section 44 of the Australian Constitution, federal politicians are not eligible to stand for election if they hold dual citizenship.

In 2017 the rule resulted in the resignation of more than a dozen parliamentarians, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

On Friday, Small wrote to the Senate president to advise him of his citizenship status, and then resigned.

In 2020, he joined the Senate to fill the vacancy created by Mathias Cormann's retirement, but he did not believe he was entitled to hold New Zealand citizenship.

Mr Small was born in 1988 in Perth and was an Australian permanent resident at the time, although his father was born in New Zealand.

He thought that he was in the clear until now based on the laws that apply at the time of his birth.

As part of preparations for the upcoming election, Liberal Party officials asked whether I may have an entitlement to New Zealand citizenship, Mr Small said.

Within 24 hours I took steps to engage with the New Zealand High Commission to clarify my status and renounced any eligibility or right to New Zealand citizenship that I had. On Thursday, the New Zealand High Commission renounced any New Zealand citizenship rights.

He said he would now run for a Liberal election and will run as a candidate on the campaign trail.

Now that any questions around eligibility have been resolved, I look forward to continuing to campaign across WA as a candidate for the Senate and make sure the Morrison government can continue to implement our plans for an even stronger Australia, Mr Small said.