Australian Senate President Stephen Parry says he will resign after finding out that he is a citizen of the United Kingdom, making him the sixth lawmaker to be forced out in a parliamentary crisis over eligibility concerns.
Australia’s High Court ruled last week that five lawmakers with dual citizenship were ineligible for election to parliament. The issue arises from Section 44 of the Constitution, which states that anyone who is under adherence to a foreign country is unable to serve in parliament.
Stephen Parry, a Liberal senator from Tasmania who has served as the leader of the upper house since July 2014, confirmed on Wednesday that he is a British citizen by virtue of his father’s birthplace. Parry said he was unaware that he held dual citizenship with the United Kingdom.
“Now that the High Court’s recent ruling has given absolute clarity to the meaning and application of Section 44(1) and as required by Section 17 of the Constitution, I will submit my resignation as both President of the Senate and as a Senator for Tasmania [on Thursday],” Parry said in a statement.
The parliamentary eligibility crisis had already forced five other lawmakers to resign, among them Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. His resignation meant that the coalition government led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lost its one-seat majority in the lower house.
The Australian Labor Party, which is the main opposition party in parliament, announced on Monday that it is considering to initiate a legal challenge to dozens of decisions made by Turnbull’s conservative government. The decisions in question were won because of votes cast by Joyce and others.
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