Oops: A Second Greens Senator Has Quit After Discovering Their Dual Citizenship
Larissa Waters is sadly following in the footsteps of Scott Ludlam.
A second federal Greens Senator has resigned in the space of a week over questions about their eligibility to stand in the senate. Queenslander Larissa Waters just announced she will resign immediately, after discovering she holds a dual Canadian/Australian citizenship.
Waters, the Greens’ spokesperson for Environment and biodiversity, Mining and Resources, Women, Gambling, Tourism, and Climate, was born in Winnipeg, Canada. Under Section 44 of the Australian Constitution anyone who holds “allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power” cannot be elected to parliament.
Speaking in Queensland on Tuesday afternoon, an emotional Waters said she was resigning with a heavy heart, and that she was unaware of her dual citizen status.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Waters said the error came because of a “70-year-old Canadian law” that was changed a week after her birth, and that she had always believed her place birth of had no effect on her citizenship status.
“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,” she said.
The now-former Senator cited her work to protect the Great Barrier Reef and to overturn cuts to domestic violence services as some of her proudest achievements.
Waters made headlines just last month when she became the first person in the Australian parliament to breastfeed her baby while moving a motion in the senate.
This follows Scott Ludlam’s announcement on Friday that he would leave the senate immediately upon learning he holds a dual New Zealand/Australian citizenship.
Waters was first elected to the senate in 2010 and was re-elected just last year.
It’s not immediately clear what will happen with her now-vacant senate seat, but a countback of last year’s votes is likely. Former Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett was second on the Greens’ Queensland ticket at last year’s election, and may fill Waters’ seat.