Last week, West Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam resigned from Parliament, after it emerged he was a dual citizen.
Under the Australian Constitution, dual citizenship makes you ineligible for parliament.
In an extraordinary development, this afternoon a second Greens Senator – Larissa Waters, of Queensland – announced her resignation. She was born in Canada, and was apparently unaware of her enduring Canadian citizenship (she left aged 11 months).
Waters issued this statement a short time ago.
It is with great shock and sadness that I have discovered that I hold dual citizenship of Australia and Canada. As people would know after the recent departure of my dear friend and former colleague Scott Ludlam, section 44 of the Australian constitution means I cannot hold office in the federal Parliament.
I left Canada as a baby, born to Australian parents studying and working briefly in Canada before they returned home. I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalised to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship. At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old.
However after Scott’s shock discovery, I immediately sought legal advice, and was devastated to learn that because of 70 year old Canadian laws I had been a dual citizen from birth, and that Canadian law changed a week after I was born and required me to have actively renounced Canadian citizenship.
I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. 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.
It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to resign as Senator for Queensland and Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens, effective today.
I apologise wholeheartedly to all those who have supported me and helped me to become a representative for the wonderful people of Queensland over the last six years.
I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to represent my values and speak for Queenslanders who want a fairer and cleaner world. There is no greater honour than to be entrusted with that responsibility and I have discharged it to the best of my ability, with the support of many.
The Queensland Greens have never been stronger. Despite today’s events, Queensland will still have a Green voice in the federal Parliament. And I am confident that we will continue to grow by electing some Greens MPs into our State parliament this coming election.
From being the first woman to breastfeed in federal parliament, to being part of stopping the dumping of dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef, overturning cuts to domestic violence services and keeping key environmental decision making powers in federal hands, I have relished every moment to make positive change as a Greens Senator.
But the challenges we face as a nation are still so great, and I will not be stepping away from them. I have spent my working life protecting the environment and helping the community have better say in decision making, and that will not cease.
We must stop the Adani mega mine, and we must support women to be free from violence, sexism, and pay discrimination. While my future remains uncertain, I have more to contribute and will be talking with my party about what lies ahead. Whatever the outcome, I will always work for gender equality and to protect the environment.
It has been an honour to work with my Greens colleagues in the parliament and in the Queensland party. They are the best of people and I am devastated to leave them. My focus now is on working with the party to ensure Queenslanders still have a strong Green voice in the Senate, and working with our state candidates, members and supporters to elect Greens into the Queensland State Parliament.
Despite my personal circumstances, I still have unshakeable hope for our common future on this planet. Our movement is so much bigger than any one person, and we will win in the end.
Farewell dear friends.
* Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested Scott Ludlam held an NZ passport. He did not. He simply retained citizenship.