Unexpected outcome

Australian senator who made history by breastfeeding in Parliament abruptly forced to resign

Larissa Waters seen breastfeeding her baby daughter Alia during a session of Parliament in May. (Facebook)

An Australian lawmaker who made history and grabbed headlines around the world when she breastfed her baby daughter during a Parliamentary session in May abruptly resigned from her office on Tuesday after it was discovered she held dual citizenship in Australia and Canada. Waters is the second politician in less than a week to step down over citizenship issues — Australia’s constitution explicitly prohibits people with dual citizenship from running for office unless they can prove they’ve taken steps to sever ties with the other country in which they have citizenship. Waters was born in Canada to Australian parents who were working there at the time. She lived with them in Canada until she was 11 months old when they returned to their home country. She said discovering that she holds dual citizenship was a surprise to her.

According to CNN, Waters delivered a tearful farewell to fellow lawmakers and constituents on Tuesday. “It’s with great sadness that I have discovered that I’m a dual citizen and I’ll be forced to stand down from my position in the Senate,” Waters said. She also issued a statement elaborating on what she described as a colossal mixup.

“I left Canada as a baby, born to Australian parents studying and working briefly in Canada before they returned home. I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalized to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship. At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old,” the statement reads. “I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. 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.”

In May and then again in June, Waters, 40, made headlines for happier reasons. Two months ago, she became the first mother to breastfeed her child during a session of Federal Parliament since the governing body rewrote its rules on the matter in 2015. Waters brought her daughter, Alia, who was 2 months old at the time, to work and nursed her. A little more than a month later, to much fanfare and some harsh criticism, Waters brought Alia to Parliament again and was photographed breastfeeding the tot as she delivered a motion on the Parliament floor. Waters was first elected to the Senate in 2011.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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