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Labor's Feeney quits after failing to produce citizenship records


UPDATED: Labor faces the loss of one of its federal seats with David Feeney quitting politics over the citizenship fiasco.

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The High Court had asked Feeney, the member for the marginal Victorian seat of Batman, to produce documents by Thursday showing he had renounced his British and Irish citizenship.

However, Feeney told reporters in Melbourne he had been unable to locate sufficient evidence proving his British citizenship renunciation – which he thought had been registered 10 years ago.

“On this basis having regard for my duty under section 44 of the constitution I have today written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives resigning as an MP effective immediately,” he said.

Extensive searches had been conducted of ALP and British records.

But Feeney said evidence around his Irish renunciation was “intact”.

“There is no question as to my Irish citizenship,” he said.

His resignation will force a by-election in Batman, which Labor might find tough to hold.

Feeney’s margin in Batman was cut to one percent at the 2016 election as Greens candidate Alex Bathal secured a higher primary vote than Labor.

He was saved by Liberal Party preferences, however it is expected the government won’t run a candidate in the by-election, making Labor’s chances more difficult.

Bathal has already been selected as the Greens candidate, but Feeney has said he won’t recontest the seat.

The Labor powerbroker and former campaign director in South Australia and Victoria said he had spoken with his family and decided not to seek preselection for the Batman by-election.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision but both my community and the Labor Party I love deserve a candidate that is able to give the months and the years ahead 150 per cent of their effort, their commitment and their passion,” Feeney said.

“After careful reflection, I don’t believe I’m able to offer this.”

As Feeney read his statement, his young son Ned whispered “Why are all these people here?” to his mother, Liberty Sanger, as he sat in her lap.

Afterwards, as Feeney embraced his wife and Ned, two protestors held up “Stop Adani” signs and asked Feeney what Labor was going to do to stop the mine.

Feeney did not respond as he walked out of the Commonwealth parliamentary offices carrying his son.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Toowoomba the resignation was “long overdue”.

Feeney entered the Senate a decade ago but resigned to replace veteran Labor minister Martin Ferguson in Batman in 2013.

Asked about Labor’s chances, frontbencher Mark Dreyfus said: “Of course Labor can win this seat. It’s been a Labor seat for a very long time.”

One of the possible replacements being flagged for Feeney is ACTU president Ged Kearney, who considered running for preselection in the seat in 2013.

Bathal is reportedly the subject of an internal complaint by party members over her lack of support for local Greens councillors.


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