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Second Australian senator quits over dual citizenship

Second Australian senator quits over dual citizenship

Senator Larissa Waters breastfeeds her daughter Alia Joy in Australian parliament.Image copyright

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Australian Senator Larissa Waters with her daughter, Alia Joy, in May

Australian Senator Larissa Waters has announced she will resign after learning she holds dual citizenship.

Ms Waters, from the left-wing Greens party, was born in Canada.

Under Australia’s constitution, a person cannot run for federal office if they hold dual or plural citizenship.

Ms Waters is the second senator since Friday to resign for having dual citizenship, following her Greens colleague, Scott Ludlam. Both were deputy leaders of the party.

In May, Ms Waters became the first Australian politician to breastfeed in federal parliament.

‘I was unaware’

Ms Waters said she only discovered her citizenship status following the case of Mr Ludlam, who had recently learned he was a New Zealand national.

Holding back tears at a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Waters described her error as an “honest mistake”.

“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.

The Queensland senator, 40, was 11 months old when she left Canada with her Australian parents.

“All of this happened before I could even say my first word,” she said.

However, Ms Waters, who was first elected in 2011, said she took “full responsibility”.

According to Australia’s constitution, politicians must relinquish any foreign citizenships before standing for office.

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