Snap election likely as Joyce and his mates disqualified from parliament

Fiona Nash

If the court rules that he was illegally elected in July previous year due to New Zealand citizenship he unknowingly inherited from his father, the ruling coalition could lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where governments are formed.

"The decision of the court today is clearly not the outcome we were hoping for but the business of government goes on", Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Joyce's exit strips the government of its one-seat majority, but he could return through a likely by-election.

Prior to becoming embroiled in it himself, Joyce had earlier poked fun at those who hadn't been aware of what countries they might be citizens of.

Three parliamentary investigations recommended in the 1980s and 1990s that the prohibition on dual citizens be removed from the constitution through a national referendum.

The government argued that only New Zealand-born Scott Ludlam and India-born Malcolm Roberts should be disqualified.

Most of the disqualified MPs were considered born to Australian parents overseas, or had been born in Australia to a foreign parent.


Canavan was sworn back in as a minister for resources and northern Australia late Friday while Turnbull took over Joyce's portfolios of agriculture and water resources.

In July, two senators in the Australian Greens stepped down from their positions after discovering they were a New Zealand and a Canadian citizen respectively.

Australian media say the coalition government consisting of the Liberal Party and the Nationals has been thrown in crisis, as it has lost a one-seat majority in the parliament, at least until the by-election.

Turnbull said he wanted to ensure "in our multicultural society that all Australians are able confidently to stand and serve in our parliament".

He's also the nemesis of actor Johnny Depp, whose dogs, Pistol and Boo, Joyce threatened to euthanize in April 2016 after they were brought illegally into Australia.

Joyce told lawmakers in August he had discovered he was a New Zealand citizen, throwing his position in parliament into jeopardy.

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