Fact sheet

Fact Check: Was the latest dual citizenship decision 'absolutely obvious and clear'?

Publisher
Liberal Party of Australia Dual citizenship Parliamentarians
Description
The decision of the High Court in relation to the dual citizenship of Labor's Katy Gallagher led to the departure of five politicians from Parliament, four of whom were from the Labor Party. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed that "it was absolutely obvious and clear" that they were ineligible to sit in Parliament. But Mr Turnbull's claim is exaggerated. In its decision, the High Court made clear that a political candidate's renunciation of foreign citizenship needs to be complete before nomination, unless the foreign country's laws place "irremediable" obstacles in the way. Only then does the question of whether that candidate has taken "all reasonable steps" come into play. Lawyers for the five politicians had argued that it was sufficient for a candidate to have taken all reasonable steps within their power to renounce before nomination, regardless of the response by officials of the foreign country. The High Court's decision in the case of these five parliamentarians may have been the more likely outcome given its strict interpretation of section 44 in the case of Matt Canavan last year. But based on Fact Check's own analysis and consideration of the views of three eminent legal experts, there remained the possibility that the court would rule otherwise. This was acknowledged in the Government's own legal advice. Until this current decision by the High Court uncertainty remained: the fates of politicians who had taken "all reasonable steps" to renounce British citizenship but were delayed by UK Home Office processes were not "absolutely obvious and clear".
Verdict: Exaggerated
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