Turnbull Slips in Poll as Citizenship Crisis Drags on Government

  • Coalition trails Labor by 46% to 54% in latest Newspoll
  • High Court to rule whether lawmakers in breach of constitution

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition slipped further in a key opinion poll as a seventh Australian lawmaker with dual citizenship was engulfed in a constitutional crisis that threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the government.

Malcolm Turnbull

Photographer: Mark Graham/Bloomberg

The Liberal-National coalition dropped one point to 46 percent against the main opposition Labor party on 54 percent, according to a Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper on Monday. Turnbull’s own standing with voters also declined.

Senator Nick Xenophon, who leads a block of independent lawmakers, became the latest member of parliament to be caught up in the citizenship fiasco at the weekend, saying he was unwittingly a British overseas citizen by descent due to his father’s Cypriot background. Like six other lawmakers, including three senior members of Turnbull’s coalition, that may put him in breach of a 117-year-old law barring people with dual nationality from sitting in parliament.

The issue is an embarrassment for Turnbull, whose own Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is ensnared. If the High Court, which begins hearing the cases of five lawmakers on Thursday, rules against Joyce, the government could lose its one-seat majority in the lower house.

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