Court to decide on Gallagher citizenship

May 04, 2018

Labor senator Katy Gallagher (pictured) will learn her fate on Wednesday when the High Court hands down its decision in her citizenship case.

Australian Conservatives leader Senator Cory Bernardi called for federal parliament to be prorogued six months ago to sort the whole citizenship mess out. The Turnbull government ignored his calls and pressed on - despite the possibility the citizenship cases could have wider implications for many more lower house MPs. 

The Advertiser reports, Senator Gallagher, who represents the ACT, argues she took every possible step to renounce her British ties to ensure her eligibility to run for parliament.

Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue told the court in March it was clear Senator Gallagher had not complied with renunciation requirements and as a result her Senate seat should be vacated.

But her legal team says she took every action she could to sever citizenship by descent through her father and it was "incredibly uncertain" how long a person should have to wait for British officials to approve the decision.

Senior government figures have said if Senator Gallagher is disqualified, three Labor lower house MPs in similar dual citizenship situations - Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb - should resign.

Labor last year sought, but failed to get, government approval for a job lot of MPs to be referred, including its own members as well as coalition MPs Julia Banks, Jason Falinski, Alex Hawke, Nola Marino and independent Rebekha Sharkie.

Some coalition members say the constitution needs to be changed to allow dual citizens to run for parliament, given Australia society's multicultural nature.

"We are on the cusp of a full-blown constitutional crisis," Senator Bernardi told ABC’s 7.30 last November, "the Government is taking steps which will not get to the bottom of it because they rely on the honesty and disclosure of members of Parliament, and what we've learned in recent months is that you cannot rely on them to put themselves in."

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