Labor Refers More MPs to High Court in Citizenship Debacle

More federal politicians could be facing the High Court over dual citizenship next year, with federal Labor and crossbenchers trying to refer more parliamentarians to test their eligibility to sit in parliament.

Labor has secured crossbench support to refer nine MPs to the High Court over their citizenship status.

It includes Labor MPs David Feeney, Josh Wilson, Justine Keay and Susan Lamb, Liberal MPs Julia Banks, Jason Falinksi, Nola Marino and Alex Hawke and Nick Xenophon Team representative Rebekah Sharkie.

Crossbenchers met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then met with Labor and agreed to name the nine MPs as part of a “joint referral.”

Parliament has not yet dealt with the move to refer the nine MPs.

It is likely the Government’s numbers will be boosted by one vote before it votes on the motion.

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce is due to return to Parliament shortly after winning a by-election on Saturday.

Earlier today, the Senate referred ACT senator Katy Gallagher to the High Court, with her documents showing she was still a dual British citizen when nominations closed for last year’s election.

However, Labor has argued she should not be found eligible because she took all reasonable steps possible and the British Home Office took 118 days to process her renunciation.

Senator Gallagher said in the Senate that she has legal advice informing her that she is eligible.

Labor had been resisting referring its own MPs to the High Court.

But Manager of Opposition business Tony Burke told Parliament it had decided to send four of its MPs, four Coalition MPs and crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie to the High Court.

Mr Turnbull had also refused to refer any further Coalition MPs to the High Court.

However, the Prime Minister has criticised Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for not being completely upfront about all of Labor’s MPs’ eligibility.

“Why didn’t he tell us about that before? What was he hiding? Why was he doing that?” Mr Turnbull said.

Labor argued its MP had taken reasonable steps to renounce their dual citizenship, constitutional law expert Anne Twomey said it would be up to the High Court.

“The question that needs to be resolved is whether it is enough to have done everything that the candidate can do before the nomination date; so sending off your renunciation, paying the fee, filling out the forms,” Professor Twomey said.

“If the test is that as long as you’ve done your part, that’s enough, they should all be fine.”

However, she said the High Court had taken a more stricter view the reasonable steps test.

“Just referring to it in relation to circumstances where, otherwise, the other country wouldn’t accept renunciation at all,” she said.

“If that is the view, taking a much stricter line on it, then these people are in trouble.”

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