Greens leader says ineligible senators should not pay back $3 million in salaries

Di Natale backs his people

The Greens leader has responded to suggestions Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam should repay their salaries after both resigned from Parliament because they hold dual citizenship.

Former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam could be on the hook for $3 million in parliamentary salaries – a debt their party leader thinks should be waived.

Richard Di Natale said Mr Ludlam and Ms Waters, who resigned from the Senate within days of each other after being found to be dual-citizens, and therefore ineligible to stand for Parliament under the constitution, had "already paid a pretty high price" and should not have to pay back money earned since their elections.

Mr Ludlam, who was elected in 2007, is estimated to have earned $1.6 million during his time in Parliament.  Ms Waters, who won a Queensland Senate spot in 2011, is estimated to have earned $1.2 million before stepping down on Tuesday.

Senator Di Natale, still reeling from losing his two deputy co-leaders and scrambling to reassure a shocked and disappointed membership party processes will improve, said he believed Ms Waters and Mr Ludlam should receive the same treatment Special Minister of State Scott Ryan afforded former Family First senator Bob Day, and be granted a waiver.

"They have already paid a pretty high price - they are people who have made a huge sacrifice in the name of public service, they have been incredible representatives," he told ABC radio on Wednesday morning.

Senator Di Natale said he had not yet spoken to the government over the waiver but said he would be "shocked if they were to conclude that for some reason [Mr] Ludlam and [Ms] Waters should be treated differently to [Mr] Day."

Senator Ryan confirmed in May the government had waived Mr Day's debts in line with convention, and said Rod Culleton, who also lost his Senate seat under section 44 of the constitution, was also able to follow the same path.

It is understood Ms Waters and Mr Ludlam will seek the same treatment.

But the Greens will not have to worry about the loss of their numbers while replacements are confirmed, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirming the government would grant the party pairs for their lost votes.

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But Mr Turnbull said the party was guilty of "extraordinary negligence".

"It is extraordinary that two out of nine Greens senators made that mistake," he told 5AA Adelaide radio.

"…I think if you are a member of the Australian Parliament, you should be a citizen of only one country and that is our country," he said. These two Greens senators were careless and they paid the price for it. Australians expect, they are entitled to expect that their parliamentary representatives have allegiance to one nation, and one nation only, and that is our nation."

Senator Di Natale has ordered a "root and branch" review of his party's processes and said he was confident that no other representatives, including Singaporean-born Peter Whish-Wilson and UK born Nick McKim, would discover issues with their citizenship status.

The Greens revelations sent all Australia's foreign born MPs scrambling to prove their citizenship status on Tuesday afternoon, taking to social media to declare they had renounced ties to their countries of birth.

- with AAP

This article Greens leader says senators should not pay back $3 million in salaries was originally published in Brisbane Times.

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