INDEPENDENT SA Senator Nick Xenophon is playing the waiting game about his thoughts and feelings on the High Court’s ruling today on his citizenship challenge.
The list of seven members facing potential disqualification from federal parliament for breaching constitutional eligibility rules regarding dual nationality includes Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce who may then be forced to face what’s set to be a bitter and some are saying “grubby” by-election contest for his New England seat, against arch political rival Tony Windsor.
In August, Senator Xenophon’s dual British citizenship issue was revealed along with Mr Joyce’s, due to his father’s NZ birthrights, while the Nationals have also been hindered by questions marks over the futures of deputy leader Fiona Nash and former cabinet minister Matt Canavan.
But the High Court will make its ruling at 2.15pm today which will have a cascading impact on the Nationals and the government, if members are disqualified, including who would hold the agriculture portfolio, if a by-election in New England was held.
Senator Xenophon revealed earlier this month that he was quitting the federal Senate to take a tilt for a seat, to return to the SA parliament where his political career started, and packed up his Canberra office this week.
“I’m waiting for the High Court decision – it will have all sorts of implications for the citizenship seven,” Senator Xenophon said yesterday.
“And anything that could pre-empt what the wise women and men of the High Court could decide would be quite improper so let’s wait and see.
“In terms of what my feelings are, maybe I’ll talk about that after the High Court decision.”
Asked if he believed Mr Windsor should run against Mr Joyce, Senator Xenophon said “I have enough trouble giving myself advice, as to what I should do, let alone anyone else”.
The Nationals believe Mr Joyce’s lead in New England over Mr Windsor which he established by defeating him at last year’s federal poll as the one-time rural king-maker sought to regain the seat he held for more than a decade, would be extended at a by-election.