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Australia’s Deputy PM Disqualified over Dual Citizenship

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Local Editor

Australia's High Court disqualified the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce from sitting in Parliament in a ruling that could cost the government its slender majority.

Barnaby Joyce

The decision on Friday to disqualify the deputy PM over a constitutional ban on dual citizens sitting in Parliament means a by-election will be held in December.

Joyce will be able to stand for re-election, having renounced the New Zealand citizenship he unknowingly inherited from his father.

Relatively, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition has a single-seat majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives where parties form governments.

And with the government trailing the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls, voters could use the by-election to toss both Joyce and his government out of office.

Speaking to reporters after the court ruling, Joyce said: "I was always apprehensive, some people say I'm a natural pessimist, I'm naturally cautious and I was always prepared for this outcome."

The court also disqualified four of the six senators referred to court, including government minister Fiona Nash.

Disqualified senators are replaced by members of their own parties without an election so the balance of power is not altered.

However, another government minister Matt Canavan, who the court heard might have inherited Italian citizenship from his Australian-born mother through his Italian grandparents, was allowed to stay in Parliament.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team