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August 21, 2017

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Australia's deputy leader is in trouble over potential dual citizenship

SYDNEY — The top level of Australia's government was struck on Monday by a dual citizenship issue, as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that he might also hold New Zealand citizenship and that he has asked the High Court to review the issue.

Joyce was the latest Australian politician to say he might be affected by holding citizenship from another country. Australia's constitution says members of parliament cannot be citizens of another country.

Two members of parliament, both Greens, resigned this month after discovering they unknowingly had dual citizenship as they were born overseas.

Another two members, including a government minister, have referred their eligibility to sit in parliament to the High Court after discovering they might have been dual citizens when they were elected.

The New Zealand High Commission told Joyce he might be a citizen of New Zealand as his father was born there, he said.

Under New Zealand law, anyone born overseas to a New Zealand father between 1949 and 1978 is automatically considered a "citizen by descent."

"I was shocked to receive this information," Joyce said. "I've always been an Australian citizen."

Joyce was born in Australia. He said he had advice from the Australian government solicitor that he was eligible to sit in parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Joyce, who is leader of the coalition's National Party, would not be required to stand down while the High Court considers his position.

Turnbull's coalition government has a majority of just one seat in the House of Representatives.

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