Rocked by citizenship drama, Turnbull government ponders 'nuclear option'

Oscar Cross
August 16, 2017

Three Australian lawmakers, who unknowingly flouted laws against dual citizens becoming lawmakers, have resigned since last month, and a handful of others have had their citizenship status called into question.

Manager of opposition business Tony Burke said those politicians caught up by section 44 of the constitution so far? the Nationals' Mr Joyce, the LNP's Matt Canavan, the Greens' Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters and One Nation's Malcolm Roberts?

But the worse could be yet to come for Turnbull - his government only has a one seat majority and if Joyce is forced out of parliament it could undermine his hold on power.

Fast forward to 2017, and it's Joyce's turn in the hot seat after being outed as a citizen of New Zealand-something that's illegal for a sitting member of parliament (according to Australia's constitution). Renunciation won't affect the court decision since the case rests on his eligibility to run in the last election.

"Clearly the Labor Party are involved in a conspiracy using a foreign government, in this case New Zealand, the try and bring down the Australian government", Pyne told Sky News.

The Australian Government is moving closer towards unilaterally referring four Labor MPs to the High Court to have the validity of their election tested.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has defended what Labor has described as "unhinged" and "unprofessional" comments about New Zealand in the citizenship saga.

"I would find it very hard to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian government", she said.

Why is Australia mad at New Zealand?

The leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, Jacinda Ardern, rejected Bishop's accusations as "false claims". She said she'd contacted the Australian High Commission to register her disappointment and would be meeting with the commissioner in person.

The discovery followed inquiries by the Australian media, and parliamentary questions from New Zealand Labour MP Chris Hipkins on citizenship rules for people born in Australia of New Zealand parents.

"Second, I did not know, nor did my staff member, that the New Zealand Labour Party had placed those questions on notice, until the story had broken". More so with Minister Peter Dunne corroborating information that had obvious political intent.

Joyce threatened to have Heard and her ex husband Johnny Depp's two dogs, Pistol and Boo, put down after it emerged that the couple had hidden them from Australian authorities in 2015, which was in breach of biosecurity laws.

After quite the fracas, the pair were punished with an incredibly awkward and unforgettable apology video.

As he fended off opposition attacks and insisted on his legitimacy, Australian-born Mr Joyce was the target of a series of mocking tweets from Heard.

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