High Court announces D-Day for Barnaby Joyce

WAITING GAME: Barnaby Joyce will know his future by Friday afternoon . Photo: Peter Hardin
WAITING GAME: Barnaby Joyce will know his future by Friday afternoon . Photo: Peter Hardin

FRIDAY, October 27, at exactly 2.15pm, is D-Day for Barnaby Joyce and his fellow “citizenship seven” politicians.

The court will determine if the New England MP has breached the Australian constitution, which would force him to stand down with the electorate going into a by-election.

Section 44 of the constitution says anyone who holds a dual citizenship is ineligible to stand in parliament –in August, it was revealed Mr Joyce inherited New Zealand dual citizenship through his father, who was born in New Zealand. He has since formally renounced his dual citizenship.

The High Court heard the arguments for and against the seven politicians from October 10 to 12, and has been weighing the arguments ever since.

Mr Joyce’s New England-based legal team, Everingham Solomons, said the Deputy Prime Minister's case rested on asking the court to apply a more liberal interpretation of the word citizen.

“The constitution is clear, it says you can’t be an MP if you’re a citizen of a foreign power, and on a purely literal view there is no dispute that Mr Joyce is a citizen of New Zealand,” Everingham Solomons associate Clint Coles said.

“We’re asking the court to be more liberal about it.

“Foreign laws determine if you’re a dual citizen. In not every case should we be applying the laws of a foreign country, we have to apply our own interpretation of whether they have acted in a way that makes them seem to be a citizen of a foreign country.

“We admit he might be a dual citizen, but that wasn’t what was intended when the constitution was drafted.” 

Last week, Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media he was enduring “an anxious wait, it would be ridiculous to say anything else”.

“I’m hoping the decision either way is made as quickly as possible, so we know exactly what we're off to next,” he said.

“If it goes against us, we go to a by-election straight away. If it goes with us, we just get back to work.”

Mr Joyce said he was prepared to face voters again “but we won’t get ahead of ourselves, we’ll stay humble and let people make up their own mind.”

If Mr Joyce is disqualified the earliest a byelection could be held is December 2.

This means the government would go a full sitting week (the one starting November 27) without one of its own.