The citizenship spotlight has fallen on the Opposition for the first time amid claims Labor’s Katy Gallagher may be a citizen of Ecuador.
But Senator Gallagher, one of Labor’s leading figures in the Senate, emphatically denied she had fallen foul of the same section of the constitution that now threatens the future of Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce.
The former ACT chief minister was forced to respond to a report in The Daily Telegraph that claimed she held Ecuadorian citizenship because her mother was born there.
The paper obtained a passenger entry card that showed her British mother had listed Ecuador as her place of birth when she entered Australia.
But Senator Gallagher denied there was an issue in a short statement on Tuesday.
“I am not and had never been an Ecuadorian citizen,” she said.
“As part of the ALP vetting process, I disclosed that my mother was a British citizen, born in Ecuador to British parents, who were temporarily working in Ecuador.
“The circumstances of my mother’s birth and citizenship were investigated. As a result of these investigations it was determined that I had not obtained Ecuadorian citizenship by descent from my mother.”
The 2008 Ecuadorian constitution says anyone born in the country is an Ecuadorian – as well as their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Parliamentarians are prohibited from holding dual citizenship under Section 44 (i) of the Constitution.
But Senator Gallagher said the 2008 constitution was not in effect when her mother was born and did not apply retrospectively.
— WIN News Canberra (@WINNews_ACT) August 28, 2017
A handful Labor MPs who are under a citizenship cloud have so far refused to release documents to prove they are not dual citizens, saying they undergo a vigorous vetting process.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was accused of running a “protection racket” for his MPs on Tuesday.
Mr Shorten has said he has renounced his British citizenship, but won’t release proof.
That has led to claims from the government that Mr Shorten was reluctant to do so because it would compel other Labor MPs do the same.
The High Court is set to consider the dual-citizenship cases of Nick Xenophon, the Nationals’ Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts and the Greens’ Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters in October.
All have asked – or will ask – the High Court to determine if they can continue to sit in Parliament.
Both Greens senators resigned when they realised they were dual citizens, while Senator Canavan stepped down from Cabinet.
But Mr Joyce and Senator Nash have both declared they will stay in Cabinet because they are confident the High Court will find they are eligible to sit in Parliament.
Senator Xenophon has also said he will continue to sit in the Senate while the High Court hears his case.
– with ABC