One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts has admitted knowing there was a “possibility” he was a British or Indian citizen when he ran for federal parliament.
The Queensland senator told the High Court in Brisbane on Thursday he had “no hesitation” signing a form on April 29, 2016 to nominate for the party.
But two days later Senator Roberts sent an email titled “Am I still a British citizen” to two invalid email addresses he thought were linked to the British consulate.
“I couldn’t be absolutely certain, even though I felt certain,” Senator Roberts testified on Thursday.
“I had very strong confidence that I was Australian and only Australian. That’s the way I was raised.”
Senator Roberts was born to an Australian mother and Welsh father in India in 1955.
He is one of seven politicians caught out by the Australian constitutional rule barring federal politicians from holding dual citizenship.
An expert in Indian law gave a report to the court stating Senator Roberts would have been an Indian citizen by birth but automatically lost it after he gained Australian citizenship at 19.
The court heard Senator Roberts took no steps to confirm he was an Indian citizen but inferred he was not as he had been given an Indian visa in his Australian passport.
He testified he knew there was a “very, very low” possibility he was a British or Indian citizen but did not believe he was either when he nominated on May 1, 2016.
“At the time I signed that form I had no hesitation in that I was Australian,” he said.
The court heard Senator Roberts’ 16-year-old sister filled out his form to become an Australian citizen when he was 19.
But he has no recollection of signing the document and suspects his father would have instructed him, “Here, sign this”.
“I certainly would have asked, and this is all speculation, ‘What is this about because I’m already Australian?’ but I can’t recall any of that,” Senator Roberts said.
“I was more interested in playing football.”
The court heard when Senator Roberts questioned his sister, Barbara, in September 2016 as to what they were before they were Australian, she told him they were “stateless”.
Senator Roberts said he had renounced his British citizenship but would not accept he had been a British citizen because that was never confirmed by the Home Office.
That was despite his own lawyer Robert Newlinds admitting to the court Senator Roberts had been a British citizen by descent.
“I accept that he said that because that carries a lot of weight doesn’t it?” Senator Roberts said.
“I’m still not clear of my citizenship in the past.”
Senator Roberts said if he had been a British citizen his father would have let him know, even though documents show his father was the one who tried to register his British citizenship.
“He would of ribbed me for sure if there was any chance of me being British,” Senator Roberts said.