Citizenship Saga Continues
9 May 2018
In an extraordinary day in Federal Parliament, five parliamentarians have announced they will resign on account of their dual citizenship status, adding to the list of politicians caught by section 44 of the Constitution. The development follows this morning’s unanimous High Court ruling that Labor Senator Katy Gallagher held dual citizenship with the United Kingdom at the time of her nomination and election in 2016, and was thus ineligible to be elected.
In a public statement, Ms Gallagher said it had been a privilege to serve the Canberra community in the ACT and Federal parliaments, apologised to her constituents, and indicated she will seek to continue her career in public life. Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten praised Ms Gallagher for her “valuable contribution to the Australian Parliament” and said she was “too good to lose from public life”. The High Court ordered a special recount to determine Ms Gallagher’s replacement.
Mr Shorten also said he believed the High Court had set a “new precedent” and that this would inform the Opposition’s deliberations about the future of its members. Subsequently, Labor MPs Josh Wilson, Justine Keay and Susan Lamb announced their resignations, along with Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance (previously Nick Xenophon Team). All four MPs have announced they intend to re-contest their seats at forthcoming by-elections.
Today’s resignations follow last week’s decision by Labor MP Tim Hammond to stand down for family reasons. As such, five by-elections will now be held for the seats of Braddon (TAS), Fremantle (WA), Longman (QLD), Mayo (SA) and Perth (WA).
The Government has today criticised Labor for its handling of the citizenship saga, with Attorney-General Christian Porter describing the High Court’s decision as a “crisp and crystal clear clarification of the law”. Mr Shorten previously insisted there was no need to refer Labor MPs to the High Court due to the Party’s “superior” vetting processes.