Labor senator Gallagher failed to renounce UK citizenship, government lawyers to argue

Lawyers for Labor senator Katy Gallagher will today attempt to convince the High Court judges she took “reasonable steps” to give up her UK citizenship prior to the last election and should not be kicked out of parliament.

But lawyers for the Commonwealth insist the Labor senator should be disqualified under Section 44 of the Constitution, which struck down a number of senators from across the political spectrum last year.

The case centres on whether Senator Gallagher took “reasonable steps” to sever ties with the UK.

In a submission, her lawyers argue the ACT senator sent in “sufficient” documents to the UK Home Office before the writs were issued for the 2016 election.

“By no later than May 6, 2016 … Senator Gallagher had taken every step which, as a matter of British law, was sufficient for her renunciation to be effective,” her lawyers wrote.

But then on July 20, weeks after the election, the UK Home Office asked for additional documentation. She then sent in her father’s birth certificate, her parents’ marriage certificate and her own birth certificate, the senator claims.

Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, representing the government, argues the previous dual-citizenship cases heard by the High Court established a high standard of “reasonable steps”.

In his submission, Mr Donaghue argues politicians should be required to meet the foreign government’s standards to fully cut ties unless there is an “irremediable incapacity” to comply.

Last year, the High Court pardoned Coalition senator Matt Canavan and independent senator Nick Xenophon, who both argued they were victims of complex foreign citizenship laws.

The Gallagher case could have implications for other MPs who were still dual citizens but seeking renunciation when they nominated.

The government wants her fellow Labor MPs Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb to have their citizenship matters referred to the High Court.

There are also calls for crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie and Liberals Julia Banks, Jason Falinski, Alex Hawke and Nola Marino to be referred.

– with AAP