Aussie DPM drops NZ citizenship but his seat still uncertain

"I would find it very hard to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian government".

The diplomatic clash caps off a freakish 48 hours in Canberra after Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was discovered to be a New Zealand citizen through his father.

But New Zealand's Prime Minister Bill English said it was an understandable reaction "given the seriousness of a one-vote majority government looking at the possibility of their member of parliament being ejected from parliament".

"I reject the fact it seems to be acceptable conduct in the minds of the commentariat here for the shadow minister for foreign affairs to use her office to set-up a Labour MP in New Zealand to ask questions in the New Zealand Parliament".

"It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party", she said.

What is going on in Australia?

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has just been Twitter-trolled in the most delicious way.

Joyce is perhaps best known overseas for the tough stance he took on Johnny Depp's pet dogs Pistol and Boo.

Heard avoided a conviction for illegally taking her dogs into the country a year ago after pleading guilty in court to making false statement on her immigration card.

'Foreign ministers ought to be above that, this foreign minister is not, ' he told Sky News.

Joyce is the latest of several Australian politicians to be caught up in dual citizenship scandals, the BBC reported. However, this has become a curse for many Australian political leaders lately.

"It is a matter for the Australian system to decide how Australian law applies in his case and how they deal with this issue", he told reporters. Two senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, were forced to resign last month over their citizenship status.

The turmoil saw the Sydney Morning Herald label Turnbull's centre-right coalition government as "on the brink", while The Australian opined "PM under a long white cloud", referencing the Maori name for New Zealand.

Joyce said Monday he might have New Zealand citizenship, by descent, but did not quit cabinet or parliament and instead referred his election to the High Court. "They were not the instigator".

Media inquiries had already been under way when the NZ MP raised his query.

In spite of everything, Nick Economou, senior lecturer in Australian politics at Monash University, told CNN he was sure the Australia New Zealand relationship would be able to withstand the current diplomatic tiff.

But I feel the pain of marriage equality being used as a football for political gain.

"He didn't know who was involved but I've made it clear to him that regardless of those circumstances this was not an issue that we should have been involved in".

"The reference to the High Court was not done for any reason other than to give the court the opportunity to clarify this area of the law which has been the subject of so much controversy recently", Mr Turnbull said. If Joyce loses his High Court challenge, Turnbull is in deep, deep trouble.

  • Jack Mann