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Barnaby under new pressure as Keenan lands in the clear

MALCOLM Turnbull is being called on to stop parliament from sitting until Barnaby Joyce's High Court case has been death with, as third Turnbull Government Minister's citizenship status is called into question.

Australian Conservatives leader and Liberal Party defector Cory Bernardi this morning called on the Prime Minister to prorogue this session of Parliament until the case was resolved.

"We need to make sure that every decision taken by this Parliament ... is absolutely above board, that it retains the confidence of the Australian people and that we can get about rebuilding faith in politics and our political institutions," Senator Bernardi told reporters in Canberra.

It comes as Justice Minister Michael Keenan was forced to defend his citizenship status afterFairfax Media reported experts as saying Mr Keenan was a "citizen of descent" of the UK.

The paper said Mr Keenan refused to say if he or his father had gone through the reunification process, only repeating the line that he is an "Australian citizen and does not hold citizenship of any other country."

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to clarify Michael Keenan’s citizenship status. Picture: Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to clarify Michael Keenan’s citizenship status. Picture: Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia

Mr Keenan took to Twitter this morning to deny the report.

"I am an Australian citizen and I do not hold citizenship of any other country. Fairfax is aware of this, yet in a cheap grab for a headline they have ignored this," he said. "I have to wonder why they're not pursuing Labor with such vigour."

"I renounced my citizenship in 2004 before entering Parliament," he tweeted.

UK immigration experts Sable International had told the paper though that under UK law, the Western Australian MP is a citizen by descent.

Mr Keenan's father Peter was born in England in 1943 and emigrated to Australia, where he married and had Mr Keenan in 1972.

Sable director Philip Gamble said that means Mr Keenan would also be a UK citizen.

"Nothing in the later UK nationality legislation will have removed British citizenship from Peter and Michael," Mr Gamble said.

"Peter and Michael acquired their British nationality by operation of law and no action was required for them to 'activate' this status - Michael will be a British citizen 'by descent' unless he has taken the formal step to renounce British nationality".

Fairfax Media said Mr Turnbull's office had refused to clarify Mr Keenan's citizenship status.

 

Senator Matt Canavan, left, says his mum applied for Italian citizenship on his behalf and right, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is a NZ citizen.
Senator Matt Canavan, left, says his mum applied for Italian citizenship on his behalf and right, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is a NZ citizen.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has had his New Zealand citizenship status referred to the High Court but has remained in cabinet pending a decision.

If the High Court rules Mr Joyce was ineligible to sit in parliament because he was a dual citizen when elected, the Prime Minister might be forced to prorogue the parliament until a by-election was held.

That's unless he can secure supply and confidence from a crossbench MP.

Mr Bernardi has called on the Prime Minister to prorogue the parliament now to avoid any legislation passed being called into question if the High Court does not rule in Mr Joyce's favour.

Meanwhile, Labor will continue to pressure the Deputy Prime Minister to step aside and not vote in Parliament until his case has been resolved.

Mr Joyce told parliament that authorities in Wellington had agreed he could renounce the New Zealand citizenship unknowingly acquired from his Dunedin-born father.

 

 

Nationals senator Matt Canavan says also had his case referred to the High Court but has resigned as resources minister.

He will stay in the senate until the High Court makes a decision.

Senator Canavan says his mother signed him up for Italian citizenship when he was 25 without his knowledge.

Labor's national secretary says every member of the federal caucus has been elected properly.

 

Noah Carroll said a critical part of the ALP candidate process was the requirement to declare the citizenship status of parents and grandparents.

"Where there are any issues with respect to dual citizenship - potential or otherwise - candidates are required to take all reasonable steps to renounce and satisfy the requirements of Section 44," Mr Carroll said.

That section of the constitution bans any dual citizens from parliament.

"A candidate will not be nominated by the ALP without being cleared through this process," Mr Carroll said.

"We are confident every member of the Labor caucus has been properly elected."

Topics:  barnaby joyce malcolm turnbull michael keenan

News Corp Australia

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