16 Aug 2017

A timeline of trans-Tasman political chaos

3:39 pm on 16 August 2017

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce revealed to the Australian parliament on Monday he'd discovered he was a citizen of New Zealand by descent.

Barnaby Joyce being sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove during the new cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Government House in Canberra on September 21, 2015.

Barnaby Joyce pictured in 2015 (file photo) Photo: AFP

Under the Australian constitution, dual citizenship disqualifies him from holding office in the Australian parliament.

Within a day the matter had escalated into a trans-Tasman spat over the role of Australian and New Zealand opposition parties.

Here's how the saga unfolded.

  • 14 July - The Australian dual citizenship political stoush starts when Senator Scott Ludlam resigns. He was a dual Australian and New Zealand citizen.
  • 18 July - Australian Green Party deputy leader Senator Larissa Waters, a dual Australian and Canadian citizen, resigns.
  • 25 July - Resources Minister Matthew Canavan steps down from the cabinet over similar issues. Also during July, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts is referred to the High Court to decide whether he was a dual Australian and British citizen when he entered parliament.
  • 28 July - Melbourne blogger William Summers raises questions about the citizenship of Australian Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce.
  • 7 August - Sydney Morning Herald reporter Adam Gartrell received a phone call suggesting he might want to take a look at the deputy PM. In the morning, he sends an email to Barnaby Joyce's office with the subject: 'Is the boss a Kiwi?'
  • Mr Gartrell sends hypothetical questions to the New Zealand High Commission and the Department of Internal Affairs.
  • The Australian Labor Party appears to have been aware of the mounting interest behind the scenes and has started asking questions.
  • 9 August - New Zealand Labour MP Chris Hipkins asks a question in the New Zealand parliament of Peter Dunne, the Minister of Internal Affairs - 'Would a child born in Australia to a New Zealand father automatically have New Zealand citizenship?'
  • 10 August - Mr Joyce said this was the day the New Zealand High Commission contacted him to say he might be a citizen.
  • 12-13 August - Mr Joyce lodges the papers to renounce his New Zealand citizenship.
  • 14 August - On Monday morning, Mr Joyce tells the Australian parliament he may be a dual citizen and refers himself to the High Court. Mr Joyce said he was alerted to questions about his citizenship after the New Zealand Labour Party asked questions. But, Peter Dunne said Australian media asked the department about Mr Joyce before Mr Hipkins filed a question.
  • 14-15 August - A trans-Tasman political spat erupts. Mr Hipkins tells RNZ he asked the question after a discussion with the Australian Labor Party last week, but there was no specific mention of Mr Joyce. Hesaid he would not have asked if he had known, nor was he asked to lodge the question by a friend.
  • Labour leader Jacinda Ardern meets the Australian High Commissioner Peter Woolcott to clarify how the saga unfolded. Ms Ardern said Mr Hipkins should never have asked questions.
  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on Tuesday afternoon, rounds on the left and accuses the Australian Labor Party of colluding with its New Zealand counterpart. There are calls for the Australian opposition leader to resign.
  • Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would find it hard to build trust with anyone in New Zealand involved in ''allegations to undermine the government of Australia".
  • The person who contacted Chris Hipkins was Marcus Ganley, the chief of staff for Australian Labor Party Senator Penny Wong. Senator Wong told the Sydney Morning Herald a staff member had ''informal discussions'' with New Zealand friends, but there was no request for any specific questions to the New Zealand parliament.
  • 16 August - Mr Gartrell tells Morning Report it was now clear there was a lot going on behind the scenes since the middle of last week. He said the Australian Labor Party probably got wind of the story at the same time as the newspaper and started asking questions.