Australian deputy PM a front runner for New Zealander of the Year award

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 10:29pm

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was named as a front runner in the New Zealander of the Year awards on Friday, amid a constitutional crisis in Canberra over his unwanted Kiwi citizenship.

Organisers said Joyce received the second-most nominations for the award after a public appeal for candidates.

“It’s absolutely for real,” awards manager Glyn Taylor said. “Though I’m not sure how serious the nomination was.”

The only person who outpolled Joyce was Metiria Turei, a politician who resigned as co-leader of the New Zealand Greens this month after admitting to welfare fraud.

“It’s also not unusual for people of the moment to attract significant support during the public nominations period,” Taylor said.

The awards were established in 2010 to recognise people who have “contributed to making New Zealand a better place to live”.

Past winners include All Blacks legend Richie McCaw and Hollywood director Taika Waititi.

Australian-born Joyce discovered earlier this month that he unwittingly inherited New Zealand citizenship from his father, putting him in breach of a constitutional clause banning dual citizens from sitting in parliament.

Joyce has refused to stand down and has taken his case to the High Court, determined to preserve his government’s one-seat majority in the lower house.

Six senators, including two from Joyce’s National Party, are in the same predicament, and the court will hear their cases in mid-October.

Taylor said the New Zealander of the Year nominees would not be vetted until late September and it was likely that Joyce’s name would be removed from the list of candidates then.

To win, nominees must either be New Zealand citizens or have lived in the country for five years.

Australia’s deputy leader meets neither criteria, as he told parliament on August 15 that he had formally renounced his New Zealand citizenship.