Greens senator Larissa Waters has resigned amid revelations of dual citizenship as its believed she failed to revoke her Canadian citizenship before entering Parliament.
The move comes just one week after Scott Ludlam resigned when it came to light that he held both Australian and New Zealand citizenship.
The Australian constitution details that a person can be disqualified from Parliament who “is under any acknowledgment 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 a citizen of a foreign power; or they consider dual citizenship an ‘allegiance to a foreign power’.”
Unless a person can show they have taken reasonable steps to sever foreign ties, they are not eligible to run for election.
Born in Canada to Australian parents, Waters came to Australia as a baby and grew up in Brisbane; she hasn’t been back to Canada since she was 11 months old.
Waters’ resignation means the Greens are worse off — they’ll now be down two votes in the Senate while replacements for Waters and Ludlam are found, affecting the balance of power and possibly making it easier for the government to pass legislation.
“I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen,” Waters explained in a press conference earlier.
“Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight.
“I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have.
“I have spent my working life protecting the environment and helping the community have better say in decision making, and that will not cease. We must stop the Adani mega mine, and we must support women to be free from violence, sexism, and pay discrimination.
“While my future remains uncertain, I have more to contribute and will be talking with my party about what lies ahead. Whatever the outcome, I will always work for gender equality and to protect the environment.”
Waters was elected to the Senate in 2010 and made headlines when she became the first woman to breastfeed in Australian parliament.
Tony Abbott (UK), Sam Dastyari (Iran), Penny Wong (Malaysia) and Mathias Cormann (Belgium) were all born overseas along with a slew of others.