Who's who in the citizenship saga

THE citizenship saga that has embroiled federal Parliament is out of control.

At least half a dozen elected parliamentary representatives have been confirmed as holding dual citizenship when they were elected. Two have resigned over it, and a whole haul of MPs and Senators are making their way to the High Court to have their fate decided while questions cloud 11 members' eligibility.

The government wants the issue sorted next month with the solicitor-general asking for the cases to be heard together on September 13 and 14.

But, with names of more potential dual citizen pollies popping up almost daily, it doesn't look like the issue is going away any time son.

Even Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is being pushed to publicly release documents proving that he renounced his British citizenship, which he was afforded by descent.

Mr Shorten, and a number of other Labor MPs, have refused to provide documentation proving they hold only Australian citizenship.

It's been suggested that the Opposition Leader is refusing to released documents showing he rescinded his British citizenship in 2006 in order to protect potential dual citizens in the Labor Party from having to release theirs.

If you're struggling to keep up with the saga that's plagued parliament for well over a month now, join the club.

Here's a handy guide to who's caught up in it, who's trying to get out of it, and who's been dragged in.


Barnaby Joyce, Nationals leader

Citizenship status: New Zealand citizen by descent, referred to the High Court

The Deputy Prime Minister's dual citizenship is arguably the most problematic for the government, not only because he is the most senior MP to be caught up in the saga, but because he is also the only Coalition member of the House of Representatives. If Mr Joyce is found to have been ineligible for election, it could threaten the government's majority.

The Nationals leader discovered he was a New Zealand citizen following inquiries by Fairfax media and questions from the New Zealand Labor Party to the High Commission.

The dinky-di agricultural minister's father was born in New Zealand. Mr Joyce said he thought he had to apply to become a Kiwi, but turns out he was granted citizenship automatically.

Nick Xenophon, NXT leader/crossbencher

Citizenship status: British citizen by descent, will refer himself to the High Court

Before he ran for parliament Australian born independent Nick Xenophon wrote to authorities in Greece and Cyprus, where his mother and father were born, to make sure he wasn't a citizen of either country and to give up any right he had to become one.

In a potentially career-ending oversight, he neglected to investigate his British roots. Since Mr Xenophon's father migrated to Australia as a British subject, his son was granted British citizenship by descent. The South Australian Senator announced his new-found Britishness earlier this week and said he would refer himself to the High Court.

Fiona Nash, Nationals deputy leader

Citizenship status: British citizen, to be referred to the High Court

Senator Nash told parliament last Thursday night she sought advice about her citizenship status on Monday from the UK Home Office following revelations her party's leader, Mr Joyce, was a dual citizen of New Zealand.

She said a caseworker advised she was "of the view" that she was a British citizen by descent through her Scottish-born father.

Senator Nash will continue as deputy leader of the National party and sit in the Senate on the solicitor-general's advice as her case is referred to the High Court when parliament resumes on September 4.

Matt Canavan, Nationals Senator and former resources

Citizenship status: Italian citizen, referred to the High Court

Matt Canavan blamed his mum for his embarrassing dual citizenship discovery. The Australian born NT Senator became a dual citizen at the age of 25 when his mother Maria applied for her own Italian citizenship, and wrote his name on the application as well.

He has stood aside from ministerial responsibilities and stood down from cabinet, but remains in the Senate while the High Court decides his fate.

The government is confident the court will find him eligible to keep his job thanks to strong legal advice from the solicitor-general.

Larissa Waters, former Greens co-deputy leader

Citizenship status: Former Canadian citizen, resigned from parliament

The popular Greens Senator tearfully announced her resignation on July 17 after discovering she was a Canadian citizen. The Queenslander was born in Canada to Australian parents before moving back to Australia as an 11-month old.

A change in law the week after she was born meant that Ms Waters automatically kept her citizenship rather than having to apply for it.

She's since renounced her Canadian citizenship and plans to recontest her parliamentary seat.

Scott Ludlam, former Greens co-deputy leader

Citizenship status: New Zealand citizen, resigned from parliament

Scott Ludlam was the first official casualty of the citizenship parliament that's since torn a destructive path through parliament.

The co-deputy leader and Senator resigned from Parliament on July 14 after discovering he held dual citizenship with New Zealand and was believed to have been improperly elected more than a decade ago.

Mr Ludlam was born in New Zealand and move to Australia as an eight-year-old. He was naturalised in his mid-teens and said assumed "that was the end" of his New Zealand citizenship.

Malcolm Roberts, One Nation Senator

Citizenship status: Former British citizen, referred to the High Court

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts is confident of surviving a High Court challenge to his eligibility to sit in parliament.

Born to an Australian mother and Welsh father in India in 1955, Senator Roberts has been very secretive about his citizenship status.

The Queensland Senator insisted he had asked for his British citizenship to be cancelled before he was elected.

But after documents hinting at British citizenship were leaked, he was forced to reveal he did not receive confirmation he had renounced his British citizenship until months after his election.


Justine Keay, Labor MP

Citizenship status: Former British citizen

Tasmanian MP Justine Keay was a British citizenship before being elected to parliament in last year's Federal Election, and like Malcolm Roberts, said she applied to renounce her dual citizenship in the lead-up.

While Ms Keay has confirmed her UK citizenship was renounced, it's not known exactly whether she received confirmation before or after entering parliament.

Susan Lamb, Labor MP

Citizenship status: Possible British citizen

Queensland's member for Longman was born in Australia, but her father was born in Scotland.

As Fiona Nash discovered, children born outside of Scotland to a Scottish parent are automatically granted British citizens.

But Ms Lamb hasn't provided any proof she renounced her British citizenship.

Maria Vamvakinou, Labor MP

Citizenship status: Possible Greek citizen

Maria Vamvakinou's parliamentary bio proudly boasts she is "the first-Greek-born woman to be elected to the Parliament of Australia".

The Victorian MP migrated by boat to Australia in 1963, but hasn't proven she has since denounced her citizenship.

Tony Zappia, Labor MP

Citizenship status: Possible Italian citizen

South Australian MP Tony Zappia was born in Italy in 1952 and entered federal Parliament in 2004.

When he became an Australian citizen in 1958, Mr Zappia says he lost his Italian citizenship by default.

However, like other Labor MPs whose citizenship is in question, he hasn't provided any proof of this.

David Feeney, Labor MP

Citizenship status: Former Irish citizen

Australian-born member for Batman David Feeney held Irish citizenship, which he reportedly renounced in order to run for federal parliament. However, the Daily Telegraph has reported he is one of the Labor MPs that hasn't provided documentation proving as much.

Penny Wong, Labor Senator

The leader of the Opposition in the Senate was born in Malaysia.

She's made no secret of it and has repeatedly assured she renounced her citizenship ahead of running for parliament in 2002.

A look at the Malaysian constitution shows a formal application need to be made to its Interior Ministry before citizenship is renounced.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Senator Wong has declined repeated requests to release documentation proving she relinquished her citizenship.

Ann Sudmalis, Liberal MP

Citizenship status: Once described as "British-Australian"

Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis was born in Australia and says she's never been a British citizen. However, an incoming passenger card filled out when she was 10 years old listed her nationalists as "British-Australian".

Ms Sudmalis says the handwritten description was a mistake by her father, who wrote it down because her mother was British.

Tony Pasin, Liberal MP

Citizenship status: Italian heritage

In Tony Pasin's maiden speech to parliament in 2013 he spoke of his rural upbringing on the family farm in Barker, South Australia, and of his Italian heritage which has no come back to bite him.

His father was born in Italy, which would allow him to claim dual citizenship. He has refused to release documents showing he has relinquished any Italian citizenship.

Julia Banks, Liberal MP

Citizenship status: Former Greek citizen

Julia Banks was born in Australia, as was her mother, but her father, now deceased, was born in Greece.

The Liberal MP insists she has never taken up Greek citizenship and has gone further than most to prove it.

Last month the Victorian MP released a statement from Greek officials saying she was no longer a citizen, but has not released documentation showing when she wrote to authorities to relinquish her citizenship, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Luke Hartsuyker, Nationals MP

Citizenship status: Could have been Dutch

Luke Hartsuyker's father immigrated from the Netherlands in 1951.

The NSW MP says he made no claim to his Dutch citizenship, which he could have until he was 28. But, Mr Hartsuyker let it lapse and now claims he has no documentation to prove he could have been a citizen of the Netherlands.

Arthur Sinodinos, Liberal Senator, 'categorically not a dual citizen'

Citizenship status: Born to Greek parents

Born in Newcastle, Senator Sinodinos was the child of Greek immigrants. According to Greek law, a "child of a Greek father or a Greek mother acquires Greek citizenship by birth".

Despite this, the long-serving Senator yesterday insisted he did not hold dual citizenship.

"Media reports today that I hold dual Greek citizenship are false," he said in a statement. "Categorically, I am not a dual citizen."