Australia’s deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is disqualified from Parliament because he’s a Kiwi

Australia’s High Court on Friday has ruled the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce ruled ineligible to sit in parliament because he has New Zealand citizenship.

Joyce was among the five senators ruled ineligible from sitting in Parliament, in a move that could cost the government its slender majority in Parliament.

Joyce’s removal will be tough for the government as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition has a single-seat majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives

The Australian constitution bars citizens of foreign countries from serving in parliament. Joyce claimed he wasn’t aware he held New Zealand citizenship and has since renounced it.

“I respect the verdict of the court,” Mr Joyce said immediately after the verdict. “We live in a marvellous democracy, with all the checks and balances they have given us all the freedoms we see.”

Joyce later apologized to his electoral division for the inconvenience of a by-election that will be held at the earliest possible date, Dec. 2.

Joyce will be able to stand for re-election, having renounced the New Zealand citizenship he unknowingly inherited from his father.

Answering questions, Joyce said: “I had no reason to believe I was a citizen of any other country but Australia.”

The other four politicians – Fiona Nash, Malcolm Roberts, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam – had been elected to the Senate.

Another two politicians under scrutiny, senators Matt Canavan and Nick Xenophon, were ruled to have been validly elected.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was due to leave on an overseas trip today. It is believed that Julie Bishop, the foreign minister, will now take on the role of acting prime minister.