Embattled Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lost his grip on parliament when another of his coalition's MPs resigned yesterday, the latest victim of a constitutional crisis over politicians who hold dual citizenship.
Former tennis star John Alexander, who represents a Sydney district for Turnbull's Liberal Party, announced he was resigning after being unable to determine if he had inherited UK citizenship from his immigrant father.
His resignation followed an October 27 ruling by Australia's High Court that forced five other politicians to quit parliament because they had fallen afoul of a previously obscure constitutional rule that bars dual citizens from sitting in the Senate or lower house.
The five included deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, leader of the rural-based National Party, which rules in a coalition with the Liberals.
When parliament convenes on Monday without Alexander, Turnbull will control only 74 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, with the opposition Labor Party holding 69. Minor parties and independents fill the remaining seats.
Labor front bencher Tony Burke yesterday vowed to heap pressure on the government by pushing legislation opposed by Turnbull's coalition but supported by independents.
"As of today, no matter which way you look at it on the floor of parliament, this is now government without a majority. It's a prime minister without authority," he said.
Turnbull brushed aside the likelihood of a no-confidence vote or setback on key legislation. "There is no question of that happening," he said in Danang, Vietnam.