Sting in the tail of strict High Court ruling

10 May, 2018, 06:42 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Labor’s David Smith is saying little until the High Court decides Senator Katy Gallagher’s fate

Mr Porter said the decision meant four other MPs, including SA's Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance) must immediately stand down.

Shorten told the media following the resignations that the by-elections will be "an early opportunity for Australia to pass their view on company tax cuts".

The latest resignations amid the citizenship saga, along with the departure of Labor MP Tim Hammond for family reasons, have prompted five by-elections in Queensland, WA, and Tasmania.

The High Court of Australia ruled that Gallagher's seat would be filled by counting back votes from the 2016 federal election.

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The court did not accept that and, in a decision handed down Wednesday morning, found Senator Gallagher ineligible.

Section 44 (i) of Australia's constitution bars "citizens of a foreign power" from serving in parliament, including dual citizens, or those entitled to dual citizenship.

He said the three Labor MPs had acted in good faith and was confident they would be eligible to contest the upcoming byelections.

Gallagher had referred herself to the court in 2017 after questions emerged over whether she had renounced her British citizenship in time to run for office.

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Senator Gallagher argued she took "reasonable steps" to renounce her British citizenship prior to the last election, but due to administrative complications, it had not been processed before nominations closed.

"The decision is clear and doesn't change the law", Mr Porter said.

At a media conference, Ms Sharkie confirmed she would stand again as a Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) candidate, denying speculation she meant to switch to the Liberals. But the Home Office didn't register that she was no longer British until August 16.

The four MPs stepping down today, who were also United Kingdom citizens at the time they nominated as candidates in 2016, but had lodged the initial paperwork to renounce it, were making the same failed argument as Gallagher.

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The procedure to renounce British citizenship was simple and the requirements not onerous. "But the High Court has looked at the facts in Senator Gallagher's matter, they have developed a new test, a stricter test, and we have accepted that".

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