Australian Senator Scott Ludlum resigned from his position after discovering that he holds dual citizenship with New Zealand.
Ludlam is the co-deputy leader of the Australian Greens political party and has been serving the Parliament for nine years. He only learned about his dual citizenship last week, and has been informed that his eligibility as a senator would be challenged in Australia’s High Court. He decided not to fight it.
In a post on Twitter, Ludlam said he was “personally devastated” when he learned about the “avoidable oversight” and apologized “unreservedly” to his constituents for his mistake.
He wrote, “This was my error, something I should have checked when I first nominated for preselection in 2006. I have no wish to draw out the uncertainty or create a lengthy legal dispute, particularly when the Constitutions is so clear. I am resigning as Senator for Western Australia and Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens effective today.
The Constitution of Australia stated that a “citizen of a foreign power” is not eligible to be elected in the Federal Parliament.
Ludlam was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He moved with his family to Western Australia when he was three years old. He became an Australian citizen in his mid-teens and assumed that he already lost his New Zealand citizenship.
During a press conference on Friday, Ludlam emphasized that the error was “entirely his responsibility.” He added, “It wasn’t the way I was hoping to go out. There is an enormous amount of work undone.”
When asked if he was concerned the government would seek to recover the salary paid to him since 2008, Ludlam replied, “Taxpayers will be devastated to discover that will be millions of dollars.” He is hoping that “common sense prevails.”
“My total assets amount to a fast computer and nice shoes. We will petition them, if they come after us, for the kind of relief that was offered to senators Day and Culleton.”
The Australian High Court ruled that Senators Bob Day and Rod Culleton were ineligible for their jobs since a federal election last year. The government initially asked both politicians to repay their salaries, but eventually decided to spare them from doing so.
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