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Melbourne byelection looms as Labor's David Feeney falls into citizenship trap

06 December 2017

Two MPs with Polish heritage - Labor's Emma Husar and Liberal Jason Falinski - have requested their entitlement to Polish citizenship be renounced, but have not provided any response from Polish authorities confirming this had occurred.

Labor's Tony Burke has conceded that backbencher David Feeney might have to be referred to the High Court because he can not find paperwork to show that he renounced his British citizenship.

The Deputy Prime Minister blasted Bill Shorten in Question Time for standing by three of his MPs whose eligibility is in doubt after insisting for months no Labor MP would be caught up in the fiasco.

He said he signed renunciation documents and "as far as I am aware" they were sent to the relevant authorities in Britain and Ireland.

Ms Gallagher was a United Kingdom citizen when she ran for office in 2016 but argues she applied to renounce her dual status before that time.

This follows confirmation on Monday by ALP senator Katy Gallagher that she was still a British citizen when she nominated for last year's election, although she had taken steps to renounce.

"We have a continuing concealment, a continuing cover up from Malcolm Turnbull on behalf of the seven MPs", he said. These MPs had not provided the needed evidence to prove they weren't dual citizens, he said.

"In light of this and conscious the attacks on my legitimacy to sit as a senator will continue to be used by my opponents, I have formed the view that my situation be considered by the High Court, despite the lack of any legal advice indicating I have a problem that warrants referral".

Katy Gallagher
George Brandis has labelled Mr Burke’s comments as “utter rubbish”

He revealed Labor was even prepared to refer to court Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, whose parents arrived in Australia stateless after escaping the Nazis.

Mr Hawke and Ms Banks received advice that they had to be registered with the Greek municipal government in order to be considered a citizen despite being eligible.

"The government does expect that Mr Shorten will take the step that has been taken by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and refer those four members to the Court of Disputed Returns because if he fails to do so, that raises very serious questions about Bill Shorten's own credibility", Senator Brandis told the upper house after Senator Gallagher's statement.

Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the government did not reflect on the integrity of Senator Gallagher.

Ms Wong said Labor did not resile from their belief Senator Gallagher is entitled to be in Parliament.

Australia's constitution expressly bans parliamentarians from being "a subject or citizen of a foreign power".

But, she said, constant allegations against Senator Gallagher damaged the dignity and standing of the Senate.

Melbourne byelection looms as Labor's David Feeney falls into citizenship trap