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May 8, 2018

Federal budget and dual citizenship: four MPs quit after high court ruling – politics live | Australia news on May 9, 2018 | The Guardian. | The Guardian

Federal budget and dual citizenship: four MPs quit after high court ruling – politics live | Australia news

Paul Karp

Here is what Josh Wilson had to say:
The High Court’s decision in the case of Katy Gallagher has changed the way the law is understood and interpreted in relation to eligibility under s.44 of the Constitution. Until today’s decision the ‘reasonable steps’ test had been accepted for more than 25 years. It continues to be the basis of the Australian Electoral Commission’s advice to candidates (in the current Candidate’s Handbook), and was the guidance I followed when I nominated in 2016.
The new interpretation of the law means the question of whether a person took all ‘reasonable steps’ to renounce foreign citizenship simply doesn’t exist for dual Australian-British citizens, irrespective of the administrative delay in the process (which is generally 2-4 months). Under the new interpretation any prospective candidate must have their British citizenship deregistered before the close of nominations. In my case that was effectively impossible.
I was endorsed as a late replacement Labor candidate in Fremantle on 12 May 2016 and completed the requisite UK Home Office paperwork to renounce my British citizenship on that day. I mailed the renunciation form and attached documents on Friday, 13 May, using express registered post. I received confirmation that the documents has been received by the UK Home Office on Monday, 16 May. The processing fee for renunciation was withdrawn from my bank on 6 June. I nominated the following day, two days before the close of nominations. I received a letter from the UK Home Office dated 24 June saying that my British citizenship had been deregistered, with a copy of the renunciation form stamped 29 June 2016.
I was elected on 2 July 2016. I have not served a single day as anything other than an Australian citizen.
I was born in London when my parents were on a working holiday. My mum was expecting me when they travelled to the UK, and I returned home with them at the age of one after we’d travelled in Europe for 6 months in a Kombi van. Both my parents were born in Australia. My great-great-grandfather came to Fremantle as a convict in the 1860s. I have never lived in the UK, and have only visited there twice, in 1998 and 2012, for a few weeks each time.
In any case, the High Court’s interpretation of the law has changed and I respect that ruling. That means I must resign as the Member for Fremantle and contest the forthcoming by-election.
As I said in my first speech, I can’t imagine a more meaningful kind of work than to represent the community where I’ve lived virtually all my life. Every opportunity I am given to ask the people of Fremantle to trust me with the responsibility of being their representative in the national parliament is an opportunity I will relish.
I am looking forward to once again seeking that trust and responsibility in the weeks to come, and I am happy to be considered by voters in the Fremantle electorate on the basis of my character, principles, work-ethic, and record.

Georgina Downer (Alexander Downer’s daughter) looks like the strongest Liberal candidate to run against Rebekha Sharkie in Mayo.
Alexander Downer held that seat for 24 years, up until 2008.

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Tony Burke says the case of Jason Falinski should be referred to the high court:
As you know last year, I did move for all of these cases to be referred to the high court, for all the ones where there could be considered any level of grey. The reason this court case doesn’t change anything for the Liberals involved, they are all people that took absolutely no steps. Absolutely no steps. So the reasonable steps test never helped them. There is still a cloud over their citizenship. The right thing for them to do, under, and this is all based on what they made public and what they left in doubt, with Jason Falinski being the one where the evidence appears strongest based on entry in 1958 and Polish passports there. We’re not saying he should leave the parliament tomorrow, but that is one case which should be referred to the court.”

Bill Shorten said his MPs did not resign, because they were waiting on the reasonable steps decision:
I’m giving you the answer. We relied on our advice that says all reasonable steps. Now what the high court has said is that all reasonable steps has to include the bureaucratic processing systems of a foreign government. That hasn’t been the advice we received. Whether or not we like what the high court has decided, they made that decision and we’re going to get on with it. Australians want to get on with debating what is the right sort of budget for the country.

Will Susan Lamb be ready (as in have her British citizenship null and voided by the time of the byelection)
Well, as we saw with more recent Coalition members, it would appear that British authorities are speeding up their responsiveness to resolving these citizenship matters.”
Tony Burke adds to that:
Since this issue has blown up even in the last few months, if you look at Fiona Nash, when that happened, the renunciation took place in three days. So the processes now are quite different. For the reference made earlier about the previous high court decision last year, as to why we didn’t have a response from that, that didn’t test reasonable steps. Because the people who were before the court then were people who had taken no steps to renounce. We have reasonable steps being tested and when you say, oh, what about the legal advice, can I just say, the Australian electoral commission had the same conclusion as the Australian Labor party, and kept that in the candidates’ hand book, even as recently as the Batman byelection.”

Bill Shorten says the Labor party won’t release its legal advice, but he says that he did check to make sure it was still sound when all the section 44 stuff started up again - and it was.

Susan Lamb has not yet renounced her British citizenship. Bill Shorten said he is “sure” she will have completed all the necessary steps by the time of any byelection.
Does he feel like “a goose”? (Don’t @ me, it was a question asked by a reporter at the press conference and I present it so you have the context for his response.)
At all times, the Labor party has acted in good faith. I have replied upon the legal advice provided to me by the Labor party, the same advice provided to Labor leaders since the mid-90s. Our quality candidates have relied on this advice. After asking all candidates to comply with the processes we thought were appropriate, the high court has set a stricter test. Legal experts such as Prof George Williams say they are surprised by this decision. The Australian electoral commission’s hand book for prospective candidates spells out [that] candidates, if they’re a dual national, have to take all reasonable steps. The high court has made the decision, these are the facts we’ve got to deal with, and that’s why all three of these quality candidate will be recontesting at the earliest possible date, and this provides, I must say, although this wasn’t the plan, it provides an early opportunity for Australians to pass a view about giving away $80bn to big business, of which $17bn alone goes the banks.”

Tony Burke on the details:
I met with the speaker and have explained to the speaker the situation, particularly for the members wanting to make sure, as good local members, they don’t want any of the constituent matters they have been dealing with to be disadvantaged in any way. They won’t be returning to the house of representatives until after they come back from the byelections. And they will be spending the next couple of days finalising different constituent matters they have to deal with [so] the resignations themselves will take effect on Friday. And I understand that Tim Hammond’s resignation will be received on the same day.”

Bill Shorten:
The high court has set a new precedent for the eligibility of candidates to nominate and still be constitutionally acceptable under section 44. In good faith, our candidates and the Labor party and I have relied on advice that’s been the same advice for over 20 years.
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.
I’m pleased to announce today that all three candidates, members who have fallen into the section 44 problems which have taken many other people, they have all agreed to renominate, so at these byelections which weren’t sought, it’s an early opportunity for Australians to cast their view on Mr Turnbull’s proposal to give $17bn to the big banks.”


Bill Shorten is holding a press conference in about 10 minutes.
A reminder that we still have question time ahead of us.
Oh, and Scott Morrison is still answering questions at the press club, but I might have to come back to that in a bit.

So since Scott Ludlam was made aware of his New Zealand dual citizenship and resigned on 13 July last year, and everyone in the government jumped up and down about how disorganised the Greens were, after Larissa Waters looked into her Canadian birth and found she too was a dual citizen, we have lost or held byelections for:
Barnaby Joyce
Fiona Nash
Stephen Parry
John Alexander
Malcolm Roberts
Jacqui Lambie
Skye Kakoschke-Moore
David Feeney
Katy Gallagher
Josh Wilson
Justine Keay
Susan Lamb

Queensland and Western Australia are also the two states the Coalition are desperate to win – or at least hold on to – at the next election.
So the “fuck” message I just received from a Coalition source makes sense in that context – the government might enjoy Labor having to eat some humble pie from the section 44 mess, but they are not overly excited about holding a bunch of byelections they may not win, when we are talking about the next election in terms of months, not years.

Out of all of those battles, Longman in Queensland will shape up as the one to watch. Susan Lamb holds that seat by 0.8%. It was one of the surprises of the 2 July 2016 election when she took it from Wyatt Roy and the demographics there are a little strange – it is a mix of working class and older residents, with some young families in pockets.

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