The citizenship saga continues to wreak havoc in Canberra, with Labor Senator Katy Gallagher stepping aside from her shadow portfolio duties after referring herself to the High Court on Wednesday morning.
Gallagher has become the 12th Member of Parliament caught up in the dual citizenship crisis this year. The ACT-based senator says she has no evidence to say she is ineligible but accepts it is ultimately the Senate that needs to be satisfied.
ACT Labor senator Katy Gallagher has stepped down from her shadow portfolios and Manager of Opposition business over her citizenship pic.twitter.com/zj3AQMrZon
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) December 5, 2017
“It is a matter of enormous regret to me that I was not correctly advised,” Senator Gallagher said in a statement. “In relation to this parliament my eligibility is clear. I have acted at all times on the legal advice available to me.”
She was advised her eligibility was not in doubt which is why she didn’t believe she needed to be referred to the High Court. After mounting pressure from the government however she has decided to remove the cloud above her.
— Stephanie Peatling (@srpeatling) December 5, 2017
She will step down from her role as manager of opposition business in the Senate whilst awaiting a determination.
“On 4 September this year, I provided a detailed statement to the Senate addressing concerns that had been raised about my citizenship status. In my statement to the Senate, I informed the chamber that I had completed an RN—renunciation of citizenship—form on 20 April 2016. I did this based on advice from the ALP legal team and out of an abundance of caution. As I have previously informed the Senate, the UK High Commission had previously advised me that I would need to make an application to obtain British citizenship by descent. The renunciation declaration, supporting information and the prescribed fee were sent to the UK Home Office by registered mail on 20 April 2016. On any measure, I took all reasonable steps to renounce any entitlement I might have had to British citizenship by descent. At the time, I received advice that the action I took was sufficient to make me an eligible candidate for election.
On 16 August 2016, some 118 days after I renounced any right to British citizenship, I received confirmation from the UK authorities. It was also at that time, in August 2016, that the previous advice I received from the UK authorities and had acted on in respect to the ACT assembly and the Senate was clearly wrong—I had indeed received British citizenship from my father.”
The Attorney-General, George Brandis says there is no doubt that Gallagher took the required steps but says the timeliness of that action needs clarifying.
“I do not reflect at all on the integrity of Senator Gallagher and I don’t doubt for a moment the accuracy and the truthfulness of the statements she has made to the Senate,” Senator Brandis said. “It is necessary that reasonable steps are taken and one of the questions that goes to reasonableness is timeliness.”
— PatriciaKarvelas (@PatsKarvelas) December 5, 2017
The government wants Labor to refer four other ministers – Susan Lamb, David Feeney, Josh Wilson and Justine Keay – to the High Court amid doubts about their eligibility. Whether Bill Shorten does that, or the government seeks to enforce it, will be revealed in the coming days. If not hours.
The fall out is set to continue.