Five Australian MPs ousted over dual citizenship

Katy Gallagher has been ruled ineligible for parliament

Katy Gallagher has been ruled ineligible for parliament

Australia has lurched into a fresh political crisis after a court ruled that a Labor senator was ineligible to sit in parliament because she had failed to renounce her British citizenship, triggering a spate of MP resignations.

There will be two by-elections in Western Australia.

With Gallagher disqualified and now four more quitting their positions, there will be a total of five by-elections coming up.

Gallagher's seat in the Senate will be taken by David Smith, the second Labor candidate for the Australian Capital Territory.

Fifteen of Australia's 226 MPs - most of whom were former British citizens - have now been forced out of parliament since it emerged less than a year ago that they were considered dual citizens when they were elected.

Gallagher, being a dual British citizen, did not have the same irremediable impediment.

The court found unanimously that opposition Labor Party Senator Katy Gallagher also held British citizenship at the time of her election, despite her attempts to renounce it, and so was ineligible to be elected to the federal parliament.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter had demanded all four MPs resign after the High Court's ruling on Wednesday.

The Labor line on the decision is that "the law has changed".

The four MPs stepping down today, who were also United Kingdom citizens at the time they nominated as candidates in 2016, but had lodged the initial paperwork to renounce it, were making the same failed argument as Gallagher.

Ms Sharkie, from the Centre Alliance Party - formerly the Nick Xenophon team - won the seat of Mayo from Liberal Jamie Briggs in 2016.

"Based on the recent High Court judgement, I will now take urgent legal advice", she said.

However, she did not get confirmation from the British Home Office that her renunciation had been processed until after she was elected, according to documents she disclosed to Parliament previous year. "It is quite clear that Great Britain does not provide an insurmountable obstacle for any person wishing to renounce their citizenship", he added.

Mr Shorten did not apologise for the latest development, saying the High Court had created "a new precedent", a claim fiercely rejected by the government.

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