Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Five lawmakers leave Australian Parliament due to foreigner ban

Katy Gallagher has been ruled ineligible for parliament Katy Gallagher has been ruled ineligible for parliament. AAP
Deanna Wagner | 10 May, 2018, 06:43

Four Australian members of Parliament resigned Wednesday after revealing they held dual citizenship, bringing the number of lawmakers forced to vacate their seats because of split national loyalties to 15 in less than a year.

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".

Labor already faces a byelection for the seat of Perth, with Tim Hammond announcing last week he would resign for family reasons.

Labor party opposition senator Katy Gallagher became a test case in the High Court in its interpretation of the ban on dual nationals being elected to Parliament.

Gallagher, who said she was disappointed but accepted the court ruling, will be replaced by another Labor politician in the Senate.

"It was the day I was endorsed as the Labor candidate for Fremantle", he said.

His resignation follows that of Katy Gallagherafter the High Court ruled the duo, plus Sussan Lamb, Rebekha Sharkie and Justine Keay, were dual citizens and did not take all reasonable steps to renounce their citizenship.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter had demanded all four MPs resign after the High Court's ruling on Wednesday.

Ms Sharkie, from the Centre Alliance Party - formerly the Nick Xenophon team - won the seat of Mayo from Liberal Jamie Briggs in 2016.

"It is a crystal clear clarification of the law as it was stated in the [Matt] Canavan decision previous year, and anyone, Bill Shorten or anyone else, who says this is a reinterpretation or a change, is talking absolute rubbish", he said.

"I think Mr Shorten has a credibility problem; yesterday I think people really saw Bill Shorten exposed".

The court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the senator was disqualified. He said the court had set a new precedent and he would "now consider what further implications today's decision by the High Court may have". But the Commonwealth says that she was still too late, as the UK Home Office did not registered her renunciation until August, more than a month after the election.

That would require an "insurmountable obstacle" to renouncing foreign citizenship, five justices said in a joint decision.