Scott Ludlam leaves the Senate

Greens senator was outspoken on NBN, online civil liberties

Scott Ludlam has resigned as senator for WA, effective today.

The former Greens senator revealed in a statement that he had discovered he was ineligible to hold elected office in the federal parliament due to being a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand.

“I was born in Palmerston North New Zealand, left the country with my family when I was three years old, and settled in Australia not long before my ninth birthday,” he said in a statement. “I was naturalised when I was in my mid-teens and assumed that was the end of my New Zealand citizenship.”

“This is an oversight that was avoidable and it is something I should have fixed up in 2006 when I first nominated,” Ludlam told a press conference.

“I have no wish to draw out legal uncertainty or create any kind of lengthy dispute, particularly when that section of the constitution is so clear. I am resigning as a senator for WA and co-deputy Leader of the Australian Greens effective today.”

The dual-citizenship issue “never occurred to me as someone who left [New Zealand] as a 3-year-old, has never really considered it home,” Ludlam said.

As well as a renowned anti-nuclear campaigner, Ludlam was a high-profile critic of the government on technology issues.

Ludlam was a member of parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network and its predecessor, the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network.

The former senator was a critic of moves to eventually privatise the NBN and the shift from an all-fibre fixed-line rollout to the government’s ‘multi-technology mix’ approach.

“[I]nstead of future-proofing the country with an end-to-end fibre network we would use a bit of copper, a bit of HFC, some satellites, some wireless towers — we would have this mongrel network big parts of which would be obsolete on the day they are built and will need to be torn up and replaced,” Ludlam said in a 2016 Senate speech.

The Coalition’s MTM blueprint for the NBN was a “cobbled together mishmash of a network,” the Greens senator said.

The senator was also a firm proponent of online privacy and civil liberties in a parliament that has tended to waive aside such causes in the name of national security.

In 2014 during a debate on data retention, Ludlam challenged Attorney-General George Brandis to make public a week’s worth of his own ‘metadata’. Brandis declined.

More recently, the senator savaged the government following revelations that an Australian Federal Police officer illegally accessed the telecommunications metadata of a journalist.

“A scheme that was forced on to the public as a counter-terror tool was instead used in exactly the way we’ve long feared — in pursuit of a journalist and their source,” Ludlam said in April

“Why are the AFP misusing this power to spy on the fourth estate? Why won’t they name the journalist or at least inform them they've been illegally accessing their phone records?

“This is the real battle for free speech and accountability in Australia.”

Ludlam also took aim at the government’s recent attacks on encryption.

“You can’t build a ‘back door’ into encrypted services and limit entry to a chosen few,” Ludlam said. “That’s not how it works. If a weakness is built into software to service one group it will always be found and exploited by others.”

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