Citizenship Scandal: Australian Senate President Stephen Parry to Resign
Stephen Parry, the president of Australia’s Senate, has resigned as an MP after Britain’s Home Office confirmed he is a British citizen via his father.
The resignation of the MP has added to the political turmoil following a high court ruling last week which found five MPs were ineligible because they were dual citizens.
The ruling has prompted growing calls for the government to conduct a check of all 220 of the remaining MPs to ensure they are not citizens of a foreign country.
Mr Parry, a Senator from Tasmania, was born in Australia to a father who migrated from Britain and has become the first member of the ruling Liberal party to resign.
“With a heavy heart I inform you that I have received advice from the British Home Office that I am a British citizen by virtue of my father’s birthplace,” Mr Parry said.
“Because my departure is rapid and an unexpected event, I will not have the usual opportunity to address you in the Senate one last time.”
Mr Parry is likely to be replaced by the next candidate on the Liberal party’s list at the last election. His resignation follows that of Barnaby Joyce, the deputy prime minister, who holds New Zealand citizenship, as well as four MPs, including two British citizens.
Mr Joyce was the only MP from the lower house to be disqualified and will now recontest his seat at a byelection on December 2. The other MPs, all Senators, are likely to be replaced by party colleagues.
Section 44 of Australia’s constitution expressly bans MPs from being “a subject or citizen of a foreign power” – but many of the nation’s politicians appeared to be unaware of the requirement.
The government now faces growing calls for an audit of the citizenship of all MPs.
Eric Abetz, a Liberal MP, said an audit would help to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the Parliament.
“If Stephen Parry finds himself in this unfortunate situation there may well be others,” he told Sky News.
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