Two Australian politicians have been forced to leave their seats in the Senate after they discovered they were ineligible to stand because they held dual citizenship with other countries. Greens senator Larissa Waters resigned on Tuesday after revealing she also held Canadian citizenship, days after her party colleague Scott Ludlam was forced to step down after discovering he held dual citizenship with New Zealand. Australia’s constitution bars dual citizens from eligibility for elected office, unless they can show they have taken reasonable steps to sever foreign ties. Although Ludlam served in the upper house for nine years and Waters for six, the revelations mean they were technically never senators. A visibly emotional Waters apologised for failing to conduct the necessary checks to ensure she was eligible to sit in parliament. She said she had learned with “shock and sadness” she was a dual citizen after checking last week.
“I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen,” she said. “Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight.
“I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have.”
Waters was known for her environmental advocacy, including campaigns to save the Great Barrier Reef, which is under significant threat from the effects of climate change. She also made headlines around the world for becoming the first woman to breastfeed in Australia’s parliament.