Western Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has resigned from Parliament after news emerged that he had not renounced his New Zealand citizenship, and is therefore ineligible to serve.
The Constitution of Australia forbids dual nationals from serving in the Australian Parliament, meaning that his re-election was entirely invalid. Ludlam was born in New Zealand but left when he was three years old.
The Constitution holds an exemption for those who have taken reasonable steps to renounce their foreign citizens, but it doesn’t look like Ludlam has done this. He has been a senator since 2008.
He only learned of his continuing citizenship in the past week, but admitted while announcing his resignation that he should have checked. “I am personally devastated to learn that an avoidable oversight a decade ago compels me to leave,” he said.
“This was my error, something I should have checked when I first nominated for preselection in 2006.”
Ludlam is exceptionally popular with the Greens base, and is known for being one of the lone voices in the Australian Parliament capable of engaging in a thoughtful way with technology and the politics of the Internet.
A recount is likely to be held at some point for the seat, and it may remain vacant for a few months before anything happens. If the Greens vote holds out, it would go to Jordan Steele-John, a 22-year-old disability activist.
It’s possible that Ludlam could have chosen to battle it out in the High Court, but his chances of proving to the court that he was totally unaware of his NZ citizenship, or that he had taken appropriate steps to rectify the situation, are pretty grim.
It’s a bit of a blow to progressives, and will send shockwaves through the Parliament. We’ll keep you posted.
Photo: Getty Images.