The Perils Of Australian Dual Citizenship In Politics

In October 2017 the Australian government was forced into crisis when the ruling party lost several important MPs – and it’s majority.


It has recently emerged that it is not possible to be an Australian Member of Parliament and a citizen of another nation. That much sounds logical enough. However, some of the MPs involved were not dual citizens and simply had the right to be one.

The most important name that this applies to was Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. His father was born in New Zealand, meaning that he has the right to both New Zealand and Australian dual citizenship, even though he admitted that he was unaware of this right. A recent High Court ruling has made this theoretical right a problem, unless the subject has taken “reasonable steps” to renounce their citizenship. Needless to say, since he was unaware that he had the right, he had not tried to renounce it.

This situation highlights the importance of citizenship in many areas of life. Dual citizens can receive additional rights, but they sometimes come with additional responsibilities. More likely than this situation is that a citizen has a national service responsibility or additional taxation liabilities or voting rights. This also highlights how seriously first world governments take issues such as naturalisation.

It ought to be highlighted just how unusual this situation is. In a normal business transaction or contract, for example, both parties need to agree on the terms of an arrangement before the contract is binding. In this example, the individual had not applied for citizenship and there is no guarantee that the New Zealand government would have granted it. In other words, neither party had taken any action, but the outcome was still considered to be in place and binding as if they had done so.

In other words, it is important to investigate your situation carefully before taking any steps towards either dual citizenship or citizenship by investment.