Barnaby Joyce is a New Zealand citizen, NZ PM confirms

Barnaby Joyce is a New Zealand citizen, NZ PM confirms

Australia's "accidental Kiwi" deputy prime minister renounced his New Zealand citizenship Tuesday amid sheep jokes, Hollywood taunts and conspiracy theories about a left-wing plot to topple Canberra's conservative government.

Marcus Ganley, Australian Senator Penny Wong's chief of staff, was the Australian Labor Party staffer who spoke to Hipkins - a conversation Hipkins said prompted him to ask questions of Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne on the legal citizenship status of an Australian born to a New Zealand father.

She took to her Twitter and shared an article, which she captioned as, "When [Joyce] said "no one is above the law" I didn't realise he meant New Zealand law". In particular, given the size of the British Empire at that stage, the category of "subjects of the Queen" was much larger; Australia itself did not yet have a separate category of "citizen".

"The deputy prime minister, who I suppose we should now call the foreign minister or the leader of the "dual Nationals" is unwittingly or not a dual citizen".

New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe gets ready to spin it wide
GETTY IMAGES New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe gets ready to spin it wide

NZ Labour leader Jacinda Ardern confirmed her frontbencher Chris Hipkins had been involved and that he had asked the questions without knowing how they might be used.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten "politely declined" Mr Turnbull's suggestion of a joint referral to the High Court of any federal politicians "whose circumstances may raise questions under Section 44".

"What I want to see is ... a stable government", she told Sky News.

"This is highly unethical, at least".

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Senator Wong, Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, said the party was deeply disappointed that Ms Bishop has been prepared "to risk relations with our close friend and ally".

That didn't stop Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop from wading into the row, telling Australian media she would find it "very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations created to undermine the Government of Australia".

"Julie Bishop has already suggested this could have major consequences for the Australian government's ability to work with the New Zealand Labour Party".

"I would urge the government to reflect on the wisdom of using the credibility of the Foreign Minister in this manner, and to move swiftly to fix relations with parties of government in New Zealand". Their troops have fought alongside each other in far-flung wars for generations, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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One politician in particular-deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce-was especially heated about the issue. His case must now go in front of Australia's High Court. Should he be ruled ineligible, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be forced to rely on independents to get pass legislation.

Williams said it was likely both cases before the High Court, Canavan's and Joyce's, would not be settled for months, possibly not until December.

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