The eligibility of One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts to sit in the Senate will be referred to the High Court, after BuzzFeed News revealed a document that contradicted his claims about his citizenship.
Roberts is the latest senator to be caught up in the Australian parliament's dual citizenship mess, which has seen two Greens senators and the resources minister run afoul of Section 44 of the constitution barring dual citizens from running for federal office.
In a press conference on Wednesday, One Nation announced it would move a motion in the Senate referring Roberts to the High Court to prove his citizenship.
Roberts admitted: "I was a citizen of the UK and colonies" before making an awkward slip of tongue in saying, "I have always thought that I was British — that I was Australian".
"We all know that back then, that we were very strong members of the Commonwealth, we still are, we sang God Save the Queen until not long before then, I have always thought that I was British — that I was Australian. I have always thought I was Australian," he said.
Earlier in the day, the Australian Greens said it would move a motion in the Senate to refer Roberts' eligibility to the High Court, with Labor and key crossbenchers committing to support the motion.
Yesterday, BuzzFeed News produced Roberts' official Australian citizenship application, showing the senator signed that he was a British citizen at age 19 in 1974.
The document contradicts Roberts' previous claims that he never held any other citizenship, while casting doubt on his spokesperson's statement that the senator was "choosing to believe" he was never a British citizen.
Senator Nick Xenophon (below left) said the "paper trail" raised questions about Roberts' eligibility which should be tested in court.
"I can announce this morning that my colleagues and I have considered this matter carefully and we believe there is sufficient evidence for this matter to go to the High Court," Xenophon said.
"We believe that the paper trail, that the matters presented, indicate that it ought to go to the court of disputed returns (the High Court)."
Independent senator Derryn Hinch said he met with Roberts on Tuesday morning and discussed matters relating to Roberts' citizenship, which included the One Nation senator reading him a statutory declaration.
In light of the new information, Hinch said he thought Roberts was being "economical with the truth".
"He actually read me parts of his stat dec," Hinch said. "I think yesterday, senator Roberts was economical with the truth when talking to me and I'll be supporting the Greens on their referral."
After two Greens senators lost their jobs over citizenship concerns, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said it was encouraging to see crossbenchers support referring Roberts to the High Court.
"I'm very happy to see that our motion to refer senator Roberts to the High Court has drawn such strong support in the Senate," Di Natale said.
He added that there should be a full audit of every MP.
"Now they must get behind our motion for an audit of all MP's citizenship, which will restore some accountability and transparency to our democracy."
BuzzFeed News called Roberts' office on Wednesday morning. A spokesperson refused to comment on the motion, and then hung up.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at email@example.com.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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