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Western Australia

Jul 14, 2017

Greens shock: Scott Ludlam resigns over NZ citizenship

In a shock announcement, the Greens' Scott Ludlam has resigned after learning he remained a NZ citizen.

West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has resigned from the Senate effective immediately after revealing he had recently learnt he remained a New Zealand citizen despite being naturalised as an Australian citizen as a child.

Ludlam, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia at the age of three, says he assumed his naturalisation removed his New Zealand citizenship, but that it had recently been drawn to his attention that he remained a New Zealand citizen. Under section 44 of the constitution, anyone who “is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power” cannot stand for parliament.

Ludlam, the co-deputy leader who holds the communications and foreign affairs portfolios and who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, took responsibility for the oversight.

“This is entirely on me and I should have addressed it in 2006,” he said. The issue had been drawn to his attention by a “community member” who, according to Ludlam, was neither a journalist nor a political opponent. Ludlam made the decision to resign once the New Zealand High Commission had confirmed he remained a NZ citizen.

Ludlam is required to repay his salary for his period in the Senate — a sum that will exceed a million dollars. He says he intends to follow former senators Bob Day and Rod Culleton in seeking an exemption from repayment from the Special Minister of State.

Ludlam was one of the few senators with credibility in the communications sector, given his grasp of information issues, and led the fight against the Rudd government’s internet filter and the Abbott government’s mass surveillance regime. He was also an unstinting supporter of WikiLeaks and one of the few politicians to forcefully criticise the government’s failure to support Julian Assange. He was re-elected in 2014 after a special WA byelection caused by the loss of ballot papers by the Australian Electoral Commission during the 2013 federal election. The byelection became an early test of the Abbott government’s rapidly declining popularity and Ludlam’s politely phrased, but ferocious, “welcome to Western Australia” attack on Tony Abbott prior to the byelection drew huge attention.

“Thanks to you all and see you in the next life,” Ludlam said at the end of his media conference. Australian politics will miss an intelligent, articulate and credible young leader.

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11 thoughts on “Greens shock: Scott Ludlam resigns over NZ citizenship

  1. Nudiefish

    Powerfully sad and honorable decision.

    Now looking forward to learning about Tony Abbott and the allegations that he remains a UK citizen.

    1. The Curmudgeon

      Sorry to lose a good person.
      The Abbott thing has lingered for too long. Time for an eligibility audit of all federal parliamentarians.

  2. Marilyn J Shepherd

    He can renounce NZ citizenship and fill any casual vacancy though, he could do that today and it would be legal. He could renounce and fill his own vacancy according to Antony Green.

  3. paddy

    On the very day that Turnbull goes pear-shaped on maths and cryptography, we lose one of the best informed senators in the chamber. What a bummer. 🙁

  4. Mark Duffett

    Sympathy factor = 0. He should not have survived the 2014 election. Not to mention his decades-long ossification on anything to do with nuclear.

  5. Charlie Chaplin

    I wonder how many young Green voters he’ll take with him?

    1. Camm

      Much more likely is he’ll run next election. Someone picks up his spot, and he uses his personal standing to try and pick up another Greens seat next WA election.

  6. Tony Syad

    I expect that the Greens will use Ludlam in some paid position while he sorts out his side of this nonsensical business of not trusting NZers.

  7. Will

    It’s a very sad thing to see a quality character like Ludlam shot out of the political airlock for what in substance is such a minor infraction, yet in law so major. But, as Tony Wright from Fairfax reasonably raised, Ludlam’s very job definition requires him to have checked. He is (or was) after all, as part of the Senate, in the last line of defence of our Constitution. That must matter more than the man. We’ll learn one day exactly how this happened, but right now it looks like personal ambition might have pushed aside prudence, betraying what is perhaps the Greens most potent brand advantage – their command to be careful!

  8. Steven Pecl

    How bloody ridiculous! What an antiquated and useless law! If you were spying or committing acts of subversion for a foreign power, as if you’d keep your citizenship! I think it’s rule number one in the espionage handbook, isn’t it?! And it’s New Zealand FFS! Now we have lost a talented, hard working, and ethical (a rare trait in Canberra these days) senator out of some sort of bizarrely strict adherence to a law of utter obsolescence! A sane, modern response this situation would be to take the bench wig odd and get him to renounce it now, build a bridge, and get the fuck on with things! We’re loosing a highly talented senator here! You wouldn’t strike off a brain surgeon because of an admin error, so why a senator?!

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