Labour MP Chris Hipkins says he did not know his question to officials about citizenship was in any way linked to questions about Australia’s Barnaby Joyce’s eligibility for parliament there.
Had he known he might have given it a second thought.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Joyce’s position in Australia’s Federal parliament is under scrutiny after he revealed the New Zealand High Commission had contacted him last week with the “shocking” information that he could be a New Zealander.
Mr Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand and it has been confirmed that he is in fact a citizen by descent. That would rule him ineligible to serve in Australia’s parliament.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said this morning that Mr Hipkins should not have been prioritising questions about citizenship.
“We’ve had a discussion about and as I said to her had I known this was where it was going to land up I wouldn’t have got involved,” Mr Hipkins said.
“I had no intention of getting involved in Australian domestic politics.”
Mr Hipkins, who has a keen interest in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia, said he asked the citizenship question to Department of Internal Affairs out of personal interest.
A spokesman for Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne says Australian media had also lodged specific questions about Mr Joyce at or about the same time as Mr Hipkins’s general question.
The requests as a whole had led to Mr Joyce being informed, he said.
Mr Joyce is the fifth Australian MP to have their citizenship questioned since last month, following senators Scott Ludlam, Larissa Waters, Matthew Canavan and Malcolm Roberts. NZN
(Australian reaction, p8)