High Court rules Labor Senator Katy Gallagher ineligible

High Court rules Labor Senator Katy Gallagher ineligible
Court 2, High Court of Australia. Photo by John O'Neill via Wikimedia Commons.

Labor’s Katy Gallagher has officially been ruled ineligible to sit in parliament by the High Court because she did not renounce her UK citizenship before the 2016 election cut-off. This follows the announcement of her hearing occurring the day after the federal budget was revealed.

The findings of the High Court have since prompted another 3 Labor MP’s and Rebekha Sharkie from the Centre Alliance to resign.

Ms Gallagher had turned herself in to the High Court after the Coalition raised questions about her eligibility to sit in Parliament despite her sticking to the story that she did everything in her power to renounce her British citizenship but was thwarted by cumbersome British bureaucracy.

The UK Home Office failed to register the renunciation of her citizenship until a month following the 2016 election. This prompted her defenders to call the inquiry unfair as it was out of her control and a failure of the UK Home Office.

Despite the decision, Ms Gallagher has stated that she respects the High Court decision and made an apology to her constituents. She said that it was “deeply disappointing” that her Senate career had to end like this and that she felt she had “more to contribute” as a public representative.

She said that she will speak with Labor party members on how she can continue to contribute “over the months ahead”.

Ms Gallagher’s lawyers made the case that she couldn’t be held responsible for the delay of the UK Home Office and should have been exempted from section 44(i) of the constitution. However, the High Court made a unanimous judgement in declaring Ms Gallagher ineligible for Federal Parliament.

In the judgement the High Court stated that the British law did not prevent Ms Gallagher from renouncing her dual citizenship and that she could not lay the blame on the red tape failures of UK authorities.

The High Court ordered that a recount should take place in order to fill Ms Gallagher’s vacant seat. David Smith, a union official, is the next on the ticket for the Labor seat.

Mr Smith stated that if he took the seat he would not use it to create a vacancy for Ms Gallagher to return to senate duty, affirming that the High Court’s decision shouldn’t be undermined.

Shortly after the High Court decision, Labor Senator Penny Wong took the chance to praise Ms Gallagher, stating that she was “too good to lose”. Labor leader Bill Shorten expressed similar sentiments saying that he was “deeply disappointed” by the High Court’s decision.