Australia’s deputy PM Barnaby Joyce holds breath as High Court deliberates his future

Australia’s deputy PM Barnaby Joyce holds breath as High Court deliberates his future

Australian Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce faces preliminary High Court hearings today on his eligibility to sit in parliament. Joyce has

Barnaby Joyce could lose his job over a citizenship scandal

Photo: Ken Smith

Australian Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce faces preliminary High Court hearings today on his eligibility to sit in parliament.

Joyce has announced he possesses New Zealand citizenship via descent; under Australia’s constitution, this bars him from sitting in parliament. While Joyce insists he was unaware of this, his position is now under serious threat. 

With a single-seat majority, PM Malcolm Turnbull’s government is in a precarious spot. Should Joyce be forced to resign, Turnbull’s coalition must reach to a third-party MP—adding uncertainty to a future legislative agenda. Making matters worse, two government senators are under a similar cloud.

Doubts over Joyce’s status were revealed to Wellington by an opposition Australian Labor Party staffer. Turnbull’s government has criticised Labor, with FM Julie Bishop calling Leader Bill Shorten’s actions “highly unethical”.

The High Court will likely rule in Joyce’s favour, explaining his resistance to standing down. Even if the High Court does rule against him, Labor’s attempt to permanently topple Turnbull should fail—Mr Joyce is immensely popular in his home constituency and would win the following by-election.

 

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