Australian senator Larissa Waters, who became the first person to breastfeed in Parliament in May, resigned from her position on Tuesday after discovering that she holds dual citizenship with Canada, in violation of Parliamentary rules.
Waters, who was the deputy co-leader of Australia’s Greens Party, said it was “with great shock and sadness” that she learned that she was still a citizen of Canada, her birthplace.
Waters moved to Australia at 11 months old, and she hadn’t realized that based on Canadian law, she needed to actively renounce her citizenship.
“I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalized to be Australian and only Australian,” she said at a press conference.
According to Section 44 of the Australian Constitution, a person who “is a citizen or subject of a foreign power” cannot be a Senator.
“Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight. I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have,” Waters said.
She looked into the possibility that she was violating Australian law after her colleague, fellow Greens Party member Scott Ludlam, had to resign Thursdaybecause he is also a citizen of New Zealand.
Waters was instrumental in passing legislation that allowed members of Parliament to breastfeed in senate chambers, and put it to use when shereturned from maternity leave in May.
“From being the first woman to breastfeed in federal parliament, to being part of stopping the dumping of dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef, overturning cuts to domestic violence services and keeping key environmental decision making powers in federal hands, I have relished every moment to make positive change as a Greens Senator,” Waters said.
“Despite my personal circumstances, I still have unshakeable hope for our common future on this planet. Our movement is so much bigger than any one person, and we will win in the end.”