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Labor Senator Katy Gallagher Faces A High Court Referral Over Her Citizenship

The confirmation she had renounced her UK citizenship didn't come through until a month after the 2016 election.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Labor senator for the ACT, Katy Gallagher, faces being referred to the High Court after her citizenship disclosure revealed she didn't receive confirmation of her renunciation of UK citizenship until after the 2016 federal election.

The disclosure was made on the citizenship register published online on Thursday for all senators. A similar register for House of Representatives MPs will be online on Tuesday.

The ACT senator had been entitled to British citizenship via her father. Under Section 44 of the Australian Constitution, this would have meant she was ineligible for election at the time she resigned as chief minister in the ACT to fill the federal Senate vacancy in 2015, given she had not renounced her citizenship until 2016.

Gallagher did not seek to renounce until April 2016, and did not receive a response from the UK Home Office confirming she had renounced her citizenship to the UK until August 16, 2016 — over a month after the 2016 election.

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Gallagher has provided legal opinions that state that she "took all reasonable steps" to renounce her citizenship before the election, and that therefore she was eligible to be elected to parliament at the time of the election.

The Labor senator, however, could face being referred to the High Court for clarification. Gallagher said in a Facebook post she would not refer herself, and that it was up to the Senate to decide.

"I have acted, at all times, with the legal advice provided to me," she said.

"Based on all the advice I have available to me, I do not believe that I should refer myself to the Court of Disputed Returns, however ultimately that will be a matter for the Senate to determine."

Gallagher is also being investigated by the ACT Legislative Assembly over a statutory declaration she provided in 2015 stating she was not a foreign national to the best of her knowledge at the time.

Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

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