The Turnbull government faces a possible constitutional crisis, after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was told he could be a citizen of New Zealand.
The New Zealand High Commission contacted the Nationals leader on Thursday afternoon to advise he may be a citizen by descent through his father.
'I was born in Tamworth, just as my mother and my great-grandmother was born there 100 years earlier, ' he told parliament on Monday morning.
Joyce cited legal advice from the Solicitor General that he has not breached the Constitution, but he has referred the matter to the High Court for determination.
He told the parliament the government had received legal advice that he was in the clear, but referred himself to be on the safe side. Neither my or my parents had any reason to believe that I may be a citizen of any other country.
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He will not step down as deputy prime minister while the High Court considers his eligibility to sit in the parliament.
"The concept of New Zealand-Australian citizenship was not created until 1948", Joyce said. My father was born in New Zealand and came to Australia in 1947 as a British subject.
"Neither my parents nor I have ever applied to register me as a NZ citizen", he said.
The Prime Minister has today written to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to invite him to "nominate any Labor members of senators whose circumstances may raise questions".
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While some of the cross bench independents have already given the prime minister undertakings on confidence and supply, the loss of Joyce's vote on the floor would be deeply problematic for the government.
Prior suggestions that Mr Joyce held dual citizenship had been quickly dismissed as "laughable" by the politician.
The loss of a Coalition MP in the Lower House to citizenship rules could put the government's one seat majority at risk.
Former Resources Minister Matt Canavan also recently stood down from the frontbench as the High Court decides whether he is a dual Italian citizen.
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