Senate President Stephen Parry has announced he is a British citizen and will resign from Parliament, confirming the Turnbull government’s fears that the citizenship crisis is not yet over.
After revealing he believed he may be a dual citizen in a shock statement on Tuesday, the Tasmanian Liberal politician announced “with a heavy heart” on Wednesday that UK authorities had now confirmed he held British citizenship.
“Because my departure is an unexpected and rapid event, I will not have the opportunity to address you one last time,” Senator Parry said in a statement to the Senate.
“I wish to thank of all 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, who has served as Senate President and Deputy President for six and a half years, inherited UK citizenship through his British-born father.
Tasmanian Liberal candidate Richard Colebeck is expected to replace Senator Parry on a countback.
Bishop vs Stefanovic
Earlier, Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop was in no mood for questions about her leadership ambitions as she faced off with Karl Stefanovic on the Today Show on Wednesday morning.
Hours before Senate President Stephen Parry reportedly received confirmation he was a dual citizen, Ms Bishop was stony-faced when asked by the television host if she had ambitions to challenge Mr Turnbull to become the permanent PM.
“When are you running?” Stefanovic asked, referring to the Prime Ministership.
“Probably later this morning along Cottesloe Beach,” was Ms Bishop’s deadpan reply, referring to her well-known love of a daily jog.
Stefanovic pushed back, asking: “When are you running for the top job?”
The Foreign Minister, who is running the country while Malcolm Turnbull is in Israel, replied: “I’m very happy doing what I am doing as foreign minister.”
“I’m just Acting Prime Minister while the Prime Minister is overseas and Barnaby Joyce is facing a by-election. Otherwise I get on with the job of being Foreign Minister.”
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) October 31, 2017
The government is facing growing pressure to facilitate an audit of all parliamentarians’ eligibility, with Liberal MP Craig Kelly breaking ranks on Tuesday night to support the move.
Ms Bishop would not guarantee there were no other parliamentarians with dual citizenship.
Attorney-General George Brandis warned on Tuesday that an audit – which is supported by all in Parliament except the major parties – could become a “witch hunt”.
Labor, which says it is confident in its party vetting processes, slammed Senator Parry for his decision to keep quiet until Tuesday, with Acting Leader Tanya Plibersek also trying to fuel speculation about Ms Bishop’s ambitions on Wednesday.
Ms Bishop, long considered a potential Liberal leader, was forced to answer questions about her ambitions in an interview with Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30 on Monday.
In that interview, Ms Bishop said she was “very pleased” to be Deputy Liberal leader, a role she has held since 2007.
Asked what the chances were that Mr Turnbull would lead the government to the next election, Ms Bishop said: “I believe Malcolm Turnbull will be leading the Coalition to the next election.”
Ms Bishop’s chances of becoming next Liberal leader have increased in the eyes of punters, with a betting company saying on Tuesday she had surpassed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as the new favourite for the job.
Mr Turnbull, whose government lost its 22nd Newspoll in a row this week, was asked on Tuesday by a reporter in Israel: “Do you ever feel you’ve had enough? You’ve just had enough of the whole political scene?”
“I have never had more fun in my life,” Mr Turnbull replied.