John Wacka Williams interested in replacing Senate president Stephen Parry who was disqualified for dual citizenship

Senator John Williams says he would be interested in the president's role after Liberal Stephen Parry had to resign in the latest dual citizenship case.
Senator John Williams says he would be interested in the president's role after Liberal Stephen Parry had to resign in the latest dual citizenship case.

John ‘Wacka’ Williams’ name is being mentioned as a possible replacement as Senate president after Liberal senator Stephen Parry had to resign on Wednesday.

Senator Williams, from Inverell, confirmed to Fairfax Media he was interested.

Senator Parry revealed on Tuesday he could be a dual citizen and on Wednesday he resigned from the upper house after advice from the British Home Office that he held British citizenship by descent.

It follows the High Court decision last Friday, which disqualified four senators and New England MP Barnaby Joyce from sitting in parliament because they held dual citizenships when they were elected.

Senator Williams said there had been no discussion in the National Party about taking on the role, but in Coalition government’s it is a role which has always gone to a Liberal senator.

“I would show some interest in the job, if it was possible for the Nationals to have it,” he said.

“I don’t think a Nationals (senator) has ever had the (president’s role).

“There certainly was a speaker of the house, and that was Ian Sinclair,” he said.

Senator Williams is acting deputy president of the senate.

“I do a lot of chairing in the chamber now, filling in for the president, and it is something I’d consider if the opportunity came along,” he said.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz has already dismissed the suggestion, going on television on Wednesday to say Senator Williams would have to join the Liberal Party to get the job.

But fellow Nationals senator, Nigel Scullion, who is the most senior National in the parliament with Barnaby Joyce disqualified, was supportive of Senator Williams’ bid.

On Wednesday, he said Senator Williams had particular characteristics respected across the parliament and was a decent character and had always behaved that way.

While Senator Parry was born in Tasmania, his father had migrated from Britain as a child, which meant he held British citizenship by descent.

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