Western Australian senator Ben Small resigns over New Zealand citizenship
Western Australian senator Ben Small has resigned after recently discovering he was a dual citizen of both Australia and New Zealand.
In a lengthy statement, Mr Small explained that he was born in Perth in 1988 to an Australian mother and a New Zealand father who was at the time an Australian Permanent Resident.
The 34-year-old Liberal senator had “always understood” that he had no entitlement to dual citizenship “based on the laws that applied at the time” of his birth.
However, last week while preparing for the upcoming election, Liberal Party officials asked Mr Small if he had any entitlement to New Zealand citizenship.
He wrote to the New Zealand High Commission, which confirmed that he was indeed a dual citizen of both nations.
“Yesterday afternoon, Thursday 14 April, the New Zealand High Commission confirmed that I had been a citizen of New Zealand and, further to my application, granted a renunciation of any New Zealand citizenship rights,” Mr Small said.
“While the question of my ineligibility to have been appointed to a Senate casual vacancy would need to be confirmed by the Court of Disputed Returns, I believe that my circumstances are sufficiently clear and it is most appropriate that I promptly resign from the Senate myself.
“As a result, I have today provided my resignation to the President of the Senate.”
Despite the resignation, Mr Small said that given he had renounced his New Zealand citizenship rights he was looking forward to contesting the election as a senate candidate.
“I remain strongly committed to fighting for the issues that matter to Western Australians, especially the small businesses across WA whose interests I have championed,” he said.
“Now that any questions around my eligibility have been resolved, I look forward to continuing to campaign across WA as a candidate for the Senate and to ensuring the Morrison Government can continue to implement our plans for an even stronger Australia.”
Section 44 of the Australian Constitution sets out restrictions on who can be a candidate for Federal Parliament.
One of those restrictions excludes anybody who “is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power”.