Australian court rules lawmakers with dual citizenship ineligible

10 May, 2018, 06:45 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Labor Leader Bill Shorten's budget reply promised more tax cuts for low and middle-income workers

In a further twist in Australia's dual citizenship saga, the country's High Court ruled that Katy Gallagher, an opposition Labor MP in the upper house, was a British citizen when elected in 2016 and therefore barred from standing by the constitution. The fifth MP, Rebekha Sharkie, is part of minor party Centre Alliance.

The court had ruled in October that a dual national could be elected to Parliament only if a foreign law created an insurmountable obstacle to renouncing that second citizenship, Porter said.

That decision prompted four other lawmakers in similar predicaments to Gallagher to resign, triggering by-elections for their lower-house seats.

Sharkie resigned following the High Court's decision to render Gallagher ineligible to hold office on Wednesday.

Since July past year, section 44 of the constitution, which bans dual citizens from being federal members of parliament, has ended the political careers of former Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam.

"Every opportunity I am given to ask the people of Fremantle to trust me with the responsibility of being their representative in the national parliament is an opportunity I will relish", he said.

Gallagher, a senator for the ACT, had claimed she took all reasonable steps to renounce her British citizenship before the election, but was still a British citizen when the writs were issued.


Lamb, who holds the highly marginal Queensland seat of Longman will have to renounce her British citizenship before she can recontest her seat.

Attorney General Christian Porter earlier called on opposition leader Bill Shorten to force the Labor MPs under a cloud to resign.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has joined Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Treasurer Scott Morrison in savaging Mr Shorten.

The four MPs stepping down today, who were also United Kingdom citizens at the time they nominated as candidates in 2016, but had lodged the initial paperwork to renounce it, were making the same failed argument as Gallagher.

As a senator, Gallagher's disqualification does not trigger a byelection - she is set to be replaced on a recount by the next person on the ALP ticket, David Smith.

"Based on the recent High Court judgement, I will now take urgent legal advice", she said.

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