The Norfolk blogger behind scandal engulfing Australian government
PUBLISHED: 14:52 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:58 30 October 2017
The Australian government is teetering on the brink of collapse – and it is all down to a scandal uncovered by a Norfolk blogger.
Last week a court ruled that Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s deputy prime minister was not a valid member of parliament due to an archaic rule which states that elected politicians can not hold dual citizenship.
After two Green Party MPs were forced to stand down earlier this year blogger Williams Summer started digging. And soon he found Mr Joyce had dual citizenship because his father was born in New Zealand.
Mr Summers, who lives in Melbourne but grew up in Brancaster Staithe, said: “When MPs started resigning because of the rules about being dual nationality, I did some research to see who else might be affected.
“It didn’t take me long to work out the deputy PM was in trouble, given his father was from New Zealand, even though he continued to deny there was a problem and even joked about other MPs being caught up in the mess.”
After the 40-year-old communications manager, who attended Smithdon High School in Hunstanton, published his scoop online it went viral: “I published a story on my blog showing how he was clearly a New Zealand citizen-by-descent two weeks before it hit the mainstream media.
“I knew I was on to something, and very soon my story spread throughout social media here in Australia. It turns out the story I published was directly responsible for the New Zealand government realising Barnaby Joyce was a Kiwi, meaning he was ineligible to be an Australian MP.”
Mr Summers – who worked for North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 – believes the rules are outdated. However he stands by his investigation which has now been nominated for a prestigious Walkley Award which celebrates the best of Australian journalism.
“The rules about who can be an MP in Australia are silly and need to be changed. I would hope that after this debacle at least anybody entering Parliament will do a proper check of whether or not they are a citizen of another country,” he added.
“I’ve had people saying ‘well done’ and a few who aren’t so happy too, particularly when they’ve found out I’m a Pom.”