STEPHEN Parry has received confirmation from the UK government that he is a British citizen.
The senate president has released a statement confirming the news.
“With a heavy heart I inform you that I have received advice from the British Home Office that I am a British citizen by virtue of my father’s birthplace, thereby being a dual citizen under the provisions of the Australian Constitution,” he wrote in a statement address to his senate colleagues.
“Now that the High Court’s recent ruling has given absolute clarity to the meaning and application of Section 44(1) and as required by Section 17 of the Constitution, I will submit my resignation as both President of the Senate and as a Senator for Tasmania to His Excellency the Governor-General tomorrow.
“Because my departure is rapid and an unexpected event, I will not have the usual
opportunity to address you in the Senate one last time. I wish to thank all of you as colleagues, many of whom I regard as good friends — from all quarters of the chamber — for your support and confidence in me.”
Senator parry quoted US President Abraham Lincoln for his parting words.
“I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
The Liberal senator from sought advice from the UK Home Office after the High Court ruled on the eligibility of seven parliamentary colleagues.
Some experts have called for the matter to be referred to the High Court to determine how the senator will be replaced.
It’s likely the senator will be replaced by a count back of the 2016 election votes, which would see former Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck take over the seat.
Earlier Julie Bishop was grilled over why it took Parry two and a half months to reveal he might be a dual citizen after seven other federal MPs were referred to the High Court.
The Acting Prime Minister has defended the Tasmanian Liberal senator, saying Australia’s citizenship laws were “far more complex” now than they were when the Constitution was established in 1901.
“We would rather not be in this position obviously, but we’re dealing with it,” she told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program.
The Turnbull Government would carry on with business as usual despite the fresh citizenship woes, Ms Bishop said.
“We retained 75 of the 149 seats in the House of Representatives, we have sufficient crossbench support for confidence and for supply and Barnaby Joyce, we hope, will be returned in the seat of New England after the by-election and so we will be back to the parliamentary composition that we had at the last election,” Ms Bishop said.
Asked repeatedly why Senator Parry waited so long to seek advice on his status, Ms Bishop said: “Stephen Parry understood he was an Australian citizen. The detail of the High Court decision was then made available and he sought advice.”
The government is under pressure to launch a full audit of all federal MPs after the bombshell announcement Senator Parry — who holds one of the top jobs in Parliament — was potentially a British citizen by descent.
Ms Bishop did not offer a guarantee today that there were no other foreign citizens in Parliament but did not address calls for a full audit.
“I haven’t heard of any others, either from Labor or Liberal or Nationals or other parties,” she said.
The federal Labor party is also refusing to back a full audit of MPs’ citizenship.
Acting Opposition leader Tanya Pilibersek said today she was very confident no Labor MP was a dual citizen.
Ms Plibersek said the Coalition was more a soap opera than a government currently but backed Ms Bishop’s stance that all MPs should be personally responsible for ensuring they were not dual citizens.
“What amazes me is every member hasn’t double checked for themselves,” Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.
“And that is the extraordinary thing about the revelation of Stephen Parry — having presided over the referral of the senators to the High Court, he didn’t check his own eligibility until recently.
“It’s not credible. I would have thought every single member of parliament and senator would have been double-checking their own eligibility if they had doubts at all.”
Labor has also demanded Ms Bishop release details of which of Barnaby Joyce’s ministerial decisions could be open to legal challenge.
Frontbencher Penny Wong wrote to the Acting Prime Minister last night calling on her to make public the full list of the “potentially invalid” decisions the Attorney-General was now considering.
Senator Parry is still awaiting confirmation from the British Home Office but said yesterday he would step down as Senate President and resign as a senator for Tasmania if found to be a British citizen.
This post was originally published in news.com.au