April 22, 2018

More MPs Face Dual Citizenship Questions

06 December 2017, 12:18 | Taylor George

Labor Senator referred to High Court

More MPs Face Dual Citizenship Questions

Several lawmakers filed family history documents in Australia's parliament to meet a government deadline on Tuesday to try to prove their citizenship and stem a crisis that has so far claimed nine MPs and cost the government its majority.

Dual citizens are ineligible for elected office under Australia's 116-year-old constitution.

If it loses a by-election in Sydney on December 19, or the court ousts another lower-house MP, it would be forced to depend on a handful of independent lawmakers to retain power and pass laws.

Neither is a member of the government, but the outcome of Gallagher's case in particular, which rests on whether she made "reasonable steps" to renounce her British citizenship, will set a precedent that could later unseat government members.

The government did not support referring its own members to the High Court, with the prime minister arguing that the paperwork published on the citizenship register showed that the government MPs did not have citizenship of the countries Labor had alleged. But he won it back in a by-election last weekend.

Supporting the motion, Attorney-General, George Brandis, said it did not reflect on the integrity of Katy Gallagher, but on the integrity of Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

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Although Joyce easily regained his seat at a by-election on Saturday, the crisis still has the government precariously clinging to power and has already dented its ability to pursue its political agenda.

Opposition Labor Senator Katy Gallagher referred herself to the High Court on Wednesday and has quit her Senate positions, the Guardian reported.

Ms Gallagher has always been under a cloud, having not received confirmation she'd renounced her United Kingdom citizenship. Labor said the British Home Office had taken 118 days to complete the renunciation. "There's large question marks over quite a number of people".

A vote to refer eight other MPs to the court was narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives.

"It's uncertain territory, we still don't know for sure who is eligible and who's not", University of Queensland politics lecturer Chris Salisbury told Reuters.

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