News State South Australia Family First’s Lucy Gichuhi elected to Senate despite Labor challenge

Family First’s Lucy Gichuhi elected to Senate despite Labor challenge

Lucy Gichuhi
Labor is set to challenge the eligibility of Family First senator-elect Lucy Gichuhi. Senate . Photo: ABC
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Family First’s Lucy Gichuhi has been elected to the Senate after the High Court rejected a legal challenge from Federal Labor.

Ms Gichuhi won a special recount last week to fill the final senate seat for South Australia, which became vacant when Family First’s Bob Day election was ruled invalid.

The High Court confirmed her election on Wednesday, rejecting Labor’s submission challenging Ms Gichuhi’s eligibility as a candidate.

The Adelaide-based lawyer had faced questions over whether she had renounced her Kenyan citizenship or was a dual citizen, which would rule her ineligible to stand.

She had maintained she was eligible to be elected.

“I am an Australian citizen and am eligible to serve — I will continue to take advice on all of these matters as we move forward,” Ms Gichuhi said in a statement last week.

Labor had said its challenge was “not about Ms Gichuchi” but the “integrity of the Senate and the electoral system”.

“It is incredibly important that the validity of each senator’s election is beyond question,” he said.

“The last thing the country needs is a re-run of the Bob Day disaster.”

The Kenyan-born lawyer migrated to Australia in 1999 and said she became an Australian citizen in 2001 and never held dual citizenship.

Australia’s constitution precludes anyone with dual citizenship from being in the Parliament.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to Australia said Ms Gichuhi automatically lost her Kenyan citizenship when she became an Australian citizen.

But legal experts argue a challenge could still be launched against her because of a change to citizenship laws in her country of birth.

It is unclear if Ms Gichuhi had to provide formal proof of having renounced her Kenyan citizenship before running for Parliament.

Born in Kenya, Ms Gichuhi is a qualified lawyer and accountant who has worked for Ernst & Young and the SA Auditor-General’s Department.

She migrated to Adelaide in 1999 and has been an Australian citizen since 2001.

Before the election, she told of her childhood growing up in Kenya, including going to a rural primary school with no real classrooms.

Ms Gichuhi will be sworn in on May 9 – the same day the budget will be handed down.

-with ABC

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