A WOUNDED Greens leader Richard Di Natale has tried to reassure voters his party is not run by amateurs after losing his second co-deputy to incompetence in a matter of days.

Queenslander Larissa Waters yesterday emotionally revealed she was ineligible to be a senator because she is a dual citizen.

Ms Waters' admission, days after her Kiwi colleague Scott Ludlum made the same mea culpa, sparked a flurry of overseas-born Coalition and Labor MPs to pledge they had renounced their foreign citizenship. Twenty-three federal parliamentarians were born overseas.

 

A Government source said it was too early to determine whether it would offer the Greens pairs when voting, meaning their voting power would not be diluted, or use the crisis to their advantage to push through legislation.

The Senate will refer the two vacated positions to the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, which will order a recount of the 2016 election ballot ­papers. Former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, who was second on the Greens Senate ticket, is tipped to replace Ms Waters.

Section 44 of the Constitution makes it clear that a member of the Lower House or the Senate cannot hold dual citizenship.

Flanked by her partner, infant daughter and radical Greens Brisbane City Councillor Jonathan Sri, Ms Waters said while she was born in Canada, she did not realise she was a Canadian citizen.

"I left Canada as a baby and I've never been back, I had no idea that I was a Canadian citizen,'' she said.

"My parents are Australian, they were there working and studying briefly.

"I thought that when I was naturalised as a baby that was it, I was just an Australian.

"I've lived here almost all of my life and I was devastated to discover that in fact the law had changed a week after I was born and I needed to have taken active steps to announce what was my Canadian citizenship that I was blithely unaware of.

"With the shock announcement by my friend Scott last week, I immediately took steps to check and was devastated to find that it might be a serious problem ... we had confirmation from the Canadian High Commission just yesterday afternoon."

Cr Sri said: "This is a loss for Queensland. Right now there will be big banks, mining corporations and developers who will be popping the champagne corks and saying, 'we've finally got rid of her' because she was the one person who was standing up to the big end of town."

Senator Di Natale described the situation as a "stuff up" and said the party's co-conveners would undertake a "root-and-branch" review.

"We are absolutely committed to making sure that ... we strengthen our internal party processes and come out of this bigger and stronger and better," he said.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson was born in Singapore and his colleague Senator Nick McKim in the United Kingdom.

Senator Di Natale said he was assured they could sit in the Senate. Labor Senator Murray Watt described the Greens as a "complete rabble", while Liberal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann slapped down Twitter speculation that he was a Belgian national.

Labor's acting national secretary, Paul Erickson, said his party worked closely with candidates to ensure their nomination was compliant.

 

FROM DEMOCRATS LEADER FOR GREENS

FORMER Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett is likely to replace Larissa Waters in the ­Senate.

Ms Waters said she expected Mr Bartlett, who ran behind her on the Greens senate ticket in 2016, would take her seat if the Court of Disputed Returns ruled her ineligible and ordered a recount.

 

Greens candidate for Oxley Steven Purcell with former Senator Andrew Bartlett at the campaign launch.
Greens candidate for Oxley Steven Purcell with former Senator Andrew Bartlett at the campaign launch.

That process could be weeks away as the Senate, on its winter recess, would not be able to refer Ms Waters' case until it returned on August 8. Mr Bartlett, who spent 11 years in the Senate for the now-defunct Democrats before joining the Greens, said he was "devastated" when he heard of Ms Waters' forced resignation.

"Larissa has been a great servant for the state of Queensland and a strong, effective advocate for the policies and values which the Greens stand for," he said in a statement.

He did not address the potential of filling the vacant position, saying his immediate focus was on "working through this situation".

Mr Bartlett, who claims Irish, English, Swiss and Greek heritage, represented the Democrats for more than a decade, serving as party leader from 2002 to 2004.

He joined the Greens in 2009 and has been a serial but unsuccessful candidate in federal and local elections

News Corp Australia


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