Monday 10 December 2018

Australian court rules deputy PM is 'ineligible'

Barnaby Joyce reacts behind Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives
Barnaby Joyce reacts behind Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives

Colin Packham

Australia's High Court ruled yesterday that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to remain in parliament, a stunning decision that cost the government its one-seat parliamentary majority and forced a by-election.

The Australian dollar fell a quarter of a US cent after the unexpected decision.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he accepted the court's ruling, even though it was "clearly not the outcome we were hoping for".

He did not name a new deputy leader during a short news conference in Canberra soon after the court's ruling.

Mr Turnbull's centre-right coalition is now in a precarious position. His Liberal Party is the senior party in a coalition with the smaller National Party, which Mr Joyce led. He must now win the support of one of three independent lawmakers to keep his minority government afloat, with two sitting weeks of parliament left until it recesses for the year.

The opposition Labor Party has threatened to launch a legal challenge to every decision made by Mr Joyce since last year's election.

Mr Joyce was one of a group of lawmakers, known as the "Citizenship Seven", whose eligibility to sit in parliament was thrown into doubt in recent months when it was found they were dual citizens, a status that is barred for politicians under Australia's constitution to prevent split allegiances.

"... the business of government goes on," Mr Turnbull said as he confirmed the New England by-election would be held on December 2.

Irish Independent

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