Labor senator Katy Gallagher will learn her fate on Wednesday when the High Court hands down its decision in her citizenship case.
However, the case could have wider implications for a swag of lower house MPs – and the numbers on the floor of federal parliament – if the court finds her disqualified to sit in parliament due to her dual citizenship.
Senator Gallagher, who represents the ACT, argues she took every possible step to renounce her British ties to ensure her eligibility to run for parliament.
Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue told the court in March it was clear Senator Gallagher had not complied with renunciation requirements and as a result her Senate seat should be vacated.
But her legal team says she took every action she could to sever citizenship by descent through her father and it was “incredibly uncertain” how long a person should have to wait for British officials to approve the decision.
Senior government figures have said if Senator Gallagher is disqualified, three Labor lower house MPs in similar dual citizenship situations – Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb – should resign.
Labor last year sought, but failed to get, government approval for a job lot of MPs to be referred, including its own members as well as coalition MPs Julia Banks, Jason Falinski, Alex Hawke, Nola Marino and independent Rebekha Sharkie.
Some coalition members say the constitution needs to be changed to allow dual citizens to run for parliament, given Australia society’s multicultural nature.
WA Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, who is chairing an inquiry into section 44 of the constitution, is one member who says a referendum is needed.
But cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said he didn’t think it would succeed.
“But I’m personally not persuaded that the Australian people disagree with the proposition that a member of the federal parliament should be an Australian citizen only,” Senator Cormann told reporters in Canberra.
Australian Associated Press