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Larissa Waters, deputy Greens leader, quits in latest citizenship bungle

ABC News logo ABC News 4 days ago Henry Belot
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Deputy Greens leader Larissa Waters has resigned from the Senate after realising she holds dual citizenship and should never have been elected to Federal Parliament.

Ms Waters was born in Canada and did not renounce her dual citizenship when running for office, making her ineligible to serve since her election in 2011.

The Queensland senator's resignation, effective immediately, comes less than a week after Scott Ludlam quit after realising he also held dual New Zealand citizenship.

Both avoidable resignations mean the Greens have lost two of their strongest performers, and the Senate now faces two recounts.

The constitution disqualifies potential candidates from election if they hold dual or plural citizenship.

Larissa Waters made history when she breastfed her baby in Parliament. © AAP/Mick Tsikas Larissa Waters made history when she breastfed her baby in Parliament.

The former Queensland senator was tearful when she apologised to her constituents for her oversight.

In a statement, Ms Waters said she had not visited Canada since leaving as a baby and believed she had naturalised to Australia.

She sought legal advice after Mr Ludlam's resignation and said she was shocked and saddened by the result.

"I 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," she said.

"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.

Greens leader 'gutted' as both deputies resign

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Party leader Richard Di Natale said he was "gutted" and said Ms Waters had "unfinished business".

"This is unprecedented and deeply disappointing — personally for Larissa, for her family and for the Greens federally and in Queensland," he said.

"This is an innocent mistake, and Larissa has acted quickly and honestly to correct it."

Senator Di Natale pledged an "urgent root-and-branch review" of party processes to ensure no other parliamentarians were invalidly elected.

Ms Waters took full responsibility for the oversight and apologised for any embarrassments, saying it was no-one's fault but hers.

"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.

Ms Waters said she suspected other senators and MPs would need to resign, but was confident no-one else in the Greens would quit due to dual citizenship.

Greens lose potential leader, former senator tipped to return

Larissa Waters is the fourth member of this Parliament to leave over constitutional issues. © ABC News/Giulio Saggin Larissa Waters is the fourth member of this Parliament to leave over constitutional issues.

Ms Waters was seen by some in the party, including former leader Bob Brown, as a future leader of the party.

She was made co-deputy leader of the party in May 2015 and has been a strong opponent of the proposed Adani mine in the Galilee Basin.

She made international headlines earlier this year when she became the first woman to breastfeed her daughter, Alia, on the floor of Parliament.

It is not known whether Mr Ludlam and Ms Waters will be forced to repay their parliamentary salaries, likely to be well in excess of $1 million given the length of their tenure.

Former leader of the Australian Democrats Andrew Bartlett is in line to re-enter the Senate, as he would likely win a countback after Ms Waters' resignation.

Mr Bartlett would not comment on the resignation when contacted by the ABC.


Scott Ludlum admitted his election was invalid because he did not renounce his New Zealand citizenship. © ABC News/ James Carmody Scott Ludlum admitted his election was invalid because he did not renounce his New Zealand citizenship.

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