Another addition to Australia’s political “citizenship saga” comes in the form of Labor’s ACT senator Katy Gallagher. Federal Labor has referred senator Gallagher to the high court to asses her eligibility to hold her position.
Gallagher’s documentation reveals that she remained a British dual citizen when nominations for last year’s election were closed.
Federal Labor argues that Gallagher should not be found ineligible because she had taken all of the reasonable steps to resolve the issue. It is noted that the British Home Office processed her renunciation of British citizenship over a 118 day period.
Senator Gallagher stated that she had obtained legal counsel that she remains eligible to serve in government.
Gallagher said that the Coalition has attempted to thwart her eligibility to serve in government and her reputation overall. For this reasons she wanted the issue to be officially resolved in the High Court.
With Senator Gallagher being referred to the High Court, her colleague Justine Keay has denied there are any questions about her own eligibility. Ms Keay has since refused to have her case sent to the High Court.
Ms Keay has been a dual British citizen until the 11th of July 2016, a total of nine days following the election. She does not believe having her eligibility assessed by the High Court is necessary as he had filed paperwork to the British Home Office prior to the close of election nominations.
The Turnbull Government has stated that it will refer Lower House members of Labor to the High Court if Labor refuses to do it themselves.
The Attorney-General George Brandis has made demands of Labor’s Bill Shorten to turn in his own members of parliament to the High Court before the Government eventually does.
Labor has conceded that it will refer its members to the High Court if it cannot find documentation proving those members had renounced their British citizenship.
Labor’s Tony Burke stated that the MP’s in question had taken all reasonable steps in renouncing their British citizenship and should not be punished because of the slowness of British officials in completing paperwork.
Pointing out the varying time frames British departments took to process citizenship renunciations, Burke said that it was unfair to find MP’s ineligible because of how long the process took.
Senator Brandis has criticised this argument from Burke as being an attempt the throw up a “smokescreen” to distract from the citizenship issue.
The citizenship saga has seen both Liberal and Labor parties trying to oust each other’s members based on technicalities. Both parties seem determined on pursuing the citizenship issue to its fullest extent.