WA senator Ben Small has resigned from parliament after discovering he was a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand.
Small made the bombshell announcement in a statement released on Friday, confirming he had fallen foul of section 44 of the Australian Constitution.
Small said the dual citizenship first came to light on April 6, which was four days before Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election.
The mid-campaign timing of his resignation has therefore raised key questions.
Small first learned he may have entitlement to New Zealand citizenship after Liberal Party officials raised the query with him.
He then took steps to engage with the New Zealand High Commission to clarify his citizenship status and renounce it if necessary.
Small received official confirmation on Thursday afternoon.
“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,” he said on Friday.
“As a result, I have today provided my resignation to the President of the Senate.
“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. 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.”
Small was appointed to the Senate in November 2020 to fill a casual vacancy.
“I was born in Perth in 1988 and have always been an Australian citizen. At the time of my birth, my mother was an Australian citizen and my father, who was born in New Zealand, was an Australian permanent resident,” he said.
“I had always understood that I had no entitlement to New Zealand citizenship based on the laws that applied at the time of my birth.”
More to come.
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