Katy Gallagher is now facing questions about her citizenship
Katy Gallagher is now facing questions about her citizenship Contributed

Four new Labor MPs in citizenship row

FOUR Labor MPs could face High Court referral after they lodged documents which could raise questions about their eligibility.

The citizenship and family history details of 150 lower house MPs were tabled in parliament on Tuesday afternoon, a day after the details of their 76 Senate colleagues were released.

Tasmanian Labor MP Justine Keay, whose father was born in the UK, completed a declaration of renunciation on May 9, a month before the close of nominations for the 2016 election.

Australia Post confirmed the form was delivered to the UK Home Office on May 23. However, the Home Office did not write back to her confirming the renunciation until July 8, six days after election day, and the declaration of renunciation was registered on July 11.

The Home Office letter was stamped both "received 31 May" and "received 16 June".

She also tabled legal advice which said she had satisfied all the legal requirements for renouncing British citizenship when she mailed her completed form.

Longman MP Susan Lamb, whose father was born in Scotland, filled out her renunciation form on May 24 and the Home Office processed payment on June 6, three days before the close of nominations.

However, the Home Office sought further information on July 7, which she provided, and on August 10 the British bureaucracy told her: "We cannot be satisfied from the documents available that you hold British citizenship. The application has therefore been refused."

The government could refer more MPs including Labor’s Susan Lamb. Picture: Gary Ramage
The government could refer more MPs including Labor’s Susan Lamb. Picture: Gary Ramage

Ms Lamb also released legal advice which stated she had taken all necessary steps to renounce her citizenship when she sent her form on May 25. Fremantle MP Josh Wilson, who was born in London, completed his renunciation form on May 12 and confirmation of its delivery was given on May 16, with the payment processed on June 6.

Earlier, house of representatives members had until 9am Tuesday to file documentation revealing their citizenship information, with the details are expected to be published later today.

Labor remained confident its MPs would pass High Court scrutiny despite at least one admitting she was a dual citizen when nominating for the 2016 election.

Senators produced their family history and citizenship documents on Monday, following the fiasco which has claimed the scalps of eight federal politicians so far.

The government is weighing up whether to seek Senate support to refer opposition frontbencher Katy Gallagher to the court, making her the first Labor parliamentarian to face scrutiny.

Senator Gallagher, the former ACT chief minister, did not receive confirmation of her UK citizenship renunciation until two months after nominations closed for the 2016 federal election.

Under section 44 of the constitution, dual citizens are ineligible to sit in parliament.

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek argues there's a vast difference between the cases of Labor MPs and those found ineligible by the High Court. "Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash and the others that were referred to the High Court ... took no steps to renounce their dual citizenship," she told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"We are confident that Labor MPs have taken all reasonable steps to renounce any dual citizenships."

Justine Keay could also face questions over her citizenship. .
Justine Keay could also face questions over her citizenship. .

According to paperwork she lodged under the new disclosure rules, Senator Gallagher completed a British citizenship renunciation form, with payment and copies of documents, on April 20, 2016.

But the UK Home Office wrote back on July 1, almost a month after election nominations closed, requesting original versions of her birth certificate and parents' marriage certificate - a move a legal expert has told Labor was unnecessary.

Senator Gallagher did not receive the formal renunciation document until August 16, just over two months past the nomination date for the election. She has legal advice which says she took all of the steps required of her under British law to renounce her UK citizenship.

Based on this, she sees no reason to refer herself to the High Court. Labor is unlikely to support a referral, requiring the government to win over the Greens and one crossbencher.

The minor party will discuss the referral at a party room meeting on Tuesday.

Labor MPs Susan Lamb and Justine Keay and independent Rebekha Sharkie are also in the government's sights.

Ms Plibersek said the citizenship disclosure process, while important, had been emotionally difficult for some MPs, including those with family who had fled war-torn countries or who never knew their parents.

"It has been sad and traumatic, and perhaps worst of all of for Linda (Burney) and Malarndirri (McCarthy) and our indigenous MPs having to prove that they're Australian citizens. What an insult," she told ABC radio.

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