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Eighth Aussie lawmaker quits over dual nationality

Jacqui Lambie, an independent senator for the island state of Tasmania, reacts after delivering a statement regarding her resignation, in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on November 14, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

An eighth lawmaker has resigned in Australia because of a rule banning dual citizens from running for federal office.

Jacqui Lambie, an independent senator for the island state of Tasmania, announced her resignation in a speech before the Senate on Tuesday, saying she had just learned she held British citizenship from her Scottish grandfather and father.

“Anyone who knows my father will be shocked to think of him as anyone else than an Aussie,” Lambie told the MPs, adding, “My dad believed he renounced his citizenship years ago.”

But she said that following the recent departures of other dual citizen politicians, she had made enquiries with British authorities into her situation.

“It is with great regret that I have to inform you that I had been found ineligible by way of dual citizenship,” Lambie said.

She also vowed to immediately renounce her British nationality. “I won’t be laying down, I’ll just get up and get back on and go again, simple as that,” the lawmaker told local radio.

On October 27, Australia’s High Court reaffirmed a provision in the country’s 1901 constitution that bans dual citizens from serving in federal parliament. The dual citizenship rule was originally inserted into the constitution to prevent split allegiances.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a joint press conference with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (unseen) in Sydney, November 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The ban triggered resignations that cost Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government its majority in the parliament.

A poll released on Monday showed that Turnbull’s popularity had slipped to a new low.

Political analysts warned that several more lawmakers were likely to fall. According to a deal reached between the government and main opposition party on Monday, all politicians have to disclose the birthplace of their parents and grandparents by December 1.

Critics say the dual citizenship rule is out of step with the modern reality of the country, where half the population are either born overseas or the children of immigrants.

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