Western Australian Senator Ben Small has announced he is stepping down after discovering he unknowingly holds dual citizenship.
Western Australian Senator Ben Small has resigned from the Upper House after finding out he has dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship.
Mr Small was born in Perth to a New Zealand-born Australian mother and father, but was an Australian permanent resident and unaware of his dual nationality.
“I have always understood that I was not entitled to New Zealand citizenship based on the laws that applied at the time of my birth,” Mr Small said in a statement on Friday.
Senator WA revealed he was alerted to dual citizenship last Wednesday when Liberal Party officials inquired whether he might be eligible for New Zealand citizenship.
“Within 24 hours, I took steps to engage with the New Zealand High Commission to clarify my status and, if necessary, renounce any eligibility or rights to New Zealand citizenship that I could have,” he said.
The New Zealand High Commission confirmed on Thursday that he did indeed have dual citizenship and granted the requested waiver of his New Zealand citizenship rights.
“While the issue of my ineligibility to be appointed to a vacant Senate office should be confirmed by the Court of Disputed Returns, I believe that my situation is sufficiently clear and it is entirely appropriate that I promptly resign from the Senate myself. same,” Mr. Small said.
Mr Small was first sworn in as a Liberal Senator from WA in November 2020 after being nominated by a Joint Sitting of Parliament to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Senator Mathias Cormann.
Because of the resignation, a replacement will need to be named to serve in Mr. Small’s Senate seat for the remainder of his term, but he said he is looking forward to running for office as a Senate candidate.
“I remain strongly committed to fighting for the issues that matter to West Australians, especially the small businesses in WA whose interests I have championed,” he said.
“Now that all questions regarding my eligibility have been resolved, I look forward to continuing to campaign across WA as a candidate for the Senate and ensuring that the Morrison government can continue to implement our plans for a Australia even stronger.”
Mr Small’s predicament is due to Section 44 of the Australian Constitution which sets out restrictions on who can be a candidate for Parliament.
One of the restrictions excludes any person “under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to any foreign power, or who is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or of a citizen of a foreign power”.