Malcolm Turnbull

Barnaby Joyce to join four other politicians in High Court hearing next week

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The High Court has bundled together all five dual citizenship cases - including that of deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce - for a directions hearing next week.

The High Court will decide on whether Barnaby Joyce is legally allowed to continue sitting in the parliament in a hearing next week on August 24, in a group hearing with four other parliamentarians. 

The High Court will determine whether Mr Joyce, former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and former minister Matt Canavan were eligible to sit in parliament under Section 44 of the constitution due to their dual citizenship.

Senators Waters and Ludlam have already resigned from parliament and Senator Canavan has stood aside from the cabinet pending the court outcome.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects the court will clear the Nationals leader because he believes Section 44 of the Consitution, which prohibits dual citizens from sitting in the parliament, cannot be read literally.

The court listing came as the row over Mr Joyce's citizenship threatened not only the Turnbull government but relations with New Zealand.

Labor has accused the government of sparking a "diplomatic incident". 

"If there has been a single communication between a member of staff of the opposition and the opposition over in New Zealand, that wasn't what caused Barnaby Joyce to be a New Zealand citizen," Labor's Mark Dreyfus said. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday launched a major attack on the Labor and the New Zealand Labour party, accusing the two of "treacherous behaviour" and conspiring to bring down the Turnbull Government. 

"This is highly unethical, at least. But, more importantly, puts at risk the relationship between the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government," she said.

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Mr Turnbull has turned Mr Shorten of tipping off the NZ government, via NZ Labour MP Chris Hipkins, about Mr Joyce's potential citizenship issue.

It was revealed on Tuesday an Australian Labor Party staffer suggested to Mr Hipkins he might like to ask the NZ internal affairs minister whether a child born in Australia to a NZ father automatically had NZ citizenship - which he subsequently did.

However Mr Hipkins says he was unaware of any issue relating to the Australian deputy prime minister when he asked the question.

The NZ minister Peter Dunne said any suggestion Mr Hipkins instigated the issue was "utter nonsense", as Australian media inquiries had sparked the government's search of its records.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Shorten had plotted with his NZ Labour colleagues.

NZ Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said she and her party had no knowledge of the issues around Mr Joyce until they broke in the media on Monday afternoon, but she acknowledged her MP should not have asked the question.

Mr Shorten says the "constitutional crisis" represents negligence on the part of Mr Joyce, and the deputy prime minister should stand aside until the court case is resolved.

- with AAP

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