Australian senator could face the axe for having a Scottish father

Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie poses in Hobart. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie poses in Hobart. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
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An Australian senator is the latest high-profile politician in the country to face the axe after it was discovered her father was born in Scotland.

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, who claimed she was Aboriginal in her maiden speech in 2014, strongly denies any claims she may hold British citizenship as a result of her father’s birthplace.

However, in recent weeks, five members of Australia’s 226-member parliament have admitted they may have unwittingly held dual citizenship.

The condition under Australia’s 1900 constitution disqualifies them from political office in Canberra in what has been dubbed the “world’s most ridiculous constitutional crisis”.

A recent High Court ruling upheld a strict reading of the constitutional disqualification of foreign citizens from standing for office, meaning five politicians stood down. Among them is Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Senator Lambie admitted she only found out about her father’s Scottish birthplace when researching her autobiography.

Thomas Lambie, Senator Lambie’s father, was brought to Australia from Larkhall as a toddler in the 1950s and her grandfather subsequently served in the Australian Army.

She said: “I’m happy to put on record that I’m satisfied that my parents are both Australian citizens and I have no concerns about me being a dual citizen because of where they were born or came from, in the case of my father, as an infant.

“I am proud of my Scottish ancestry and my father is, too.”

While in the ruling in October, the judges said it may be harsh to disqualify Australian-born candidates who had no reasons to believe they were not exclusively Australian.

The judges also pointed to the “difficulties of proving or disproving a person’s state of mind” if ignorance of dual citizenship was recognised as an excuse.