Australian Senator loses seat in parliament over dual citizenship

10 May 2018, 06:43 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Explainer How did Section 44 land five federal politicians in trouble over citizenship

File Senators Scott Ludlam Larissa Waters Barnaby Joyce Matthew Canavan and Malcolm Roberts

Several Australian lawmakers have been forced from office since the High Court upheld the constitutional ban on dual nationals sitting in Parliament in a ruling last October.

There will be a total of five by-elections, because Labor's Tim Hammond resigned for family reasons.

Rebekha Sharkie, Josh Wilson, Susan Lamb and Justine Keay have also announced today they are quitting Parliament in the wake of the Gallagher ruling.

As a senator, Gallagher will be replaced by another candidate from her Labor Party without a fresh election.

However, he says the coalition also has a point in saying the court reached its conclusion - that Ms Gallagher is disqualified - by "developing and applying its prior decisions" such as the Sykes and Canavan cases.

As the dual citizenship saga drags into its 10th month, leaving taxpayers with a legal bill of around $12 million to clarify whether politicians were in breach of the the Constitution, the latest resignations bring the number of MPs and senators who've stepped down because they were dual citizens to 15, with 10 leaving politics as a result.

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

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The Labor senator lost her seat after the Australian High Court ruled she did not renounce her British citizenship in time for the 2016 election.

Attorney General Christian Porter earlier called on opposition leader Bill Shorten to force the Labor MPs under a cloud to resign. Shorten said Labor would now consider the implications of the decision.

Three Labor MPs and a minor party MP quit within hours, accepting that the case was a precedent because they had relied on the same defence of having taken "reasonable steps" to renounce their British citizenship before the election.

Sharkie is from the Centre Alliance, formerly the Nick Xenophon Team, the fortunes of which have collapsed. But the Home Office didn't register that she was no longer British until August 16.

"To the people of the (Australian Capital Territory), I'm very sorry that this disruption has occurred to one of your federal representatives", she said on Wednesday.

"It is quite clear that Great Britain does not provide an insurmountable obstacle for any person wishing to renounce their citizenship", Porter said.



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