Labor Senator referred to High Court over citizenship


Labor is preparing to refer nine federal MPs to the High Court over doubts about their citizenship status.

She said she was still eligible for United Kingdom citizenship when she nominated as a candidate for the last federal election.

The Labor senator Katy Gallagher has referred herself to the high court, and has quit her Senate positions, but she says she has no advice concluding she is ineligible to sit in the parliament.

However, the date of the UK Home Office letter confirming renunciation was June 24, well after the close of nominations for the 2016 election.

"It is, however, clear to me that the government has decided that I should be referred, despite having full access to all of my legal advice and expert reports for the past two days", Senator Gallagher said.

Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, brought on the referral motion, and said it was being done so to end the attacks on Gallagher that were "undermining the legitimacy and dignity" of the Senate.

"On this basis, if the relevant documents have not been located by the time this issue has been dealt with in the House of Representatives, I will be asking the manager of opposition business to refer this matter to the High Court", he told parliament.

Attorney-General George Brandis has accused some Labor MPs of hiding in plain sight amid questions over their eligibility to sit in parliament.

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"We do, of course, reflect upon the integrity of the leader of the opposition, Mr Shorten".

Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and David Feeney are the MPs involved.

Gallagher's move to refer her case will add to pressure on Labor to refer the other lower-house MPs.

"It doesn't have to be a showdown if Mr Shorten does the right thing", Senator Brandis said.

"We can't have a situation where the onus ... is on the candidate to complete all their reasonable steps but the decision about whether or not their eligible is driven by a junior public servant in Great Britain", he told ABC radio.

Feeney likely faces being referred to the High Court if he can't find documentation proving he renounced his British citizenship before entering the Senate in 2007 as he claims.

Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie's eligibility is also in doubt.