Labor move to refer nine MPs to High Court

Politicians Are Tearing Themselves Apart Over A New Drama In The Citizenship Crisis

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne said the government is unlikely to refer any further MPs with citizenship doubts to the High Court this year unless it can win over an independent MP's support.

The former ACT chief minister is the first Labor figure to face a court test since the citizenship fiasco began mid-year.

He has reiterated his call for a referendum on section 44 of the constitution.

Gallagher filed paperwork, and paid processing fees, to renounce her British citizenship more than two months before being elected in July 2016.

But the UK Home Office wrote back on July 1, nearly a month after election nominations closed, requesting original copies of her birth certificate and parents' marriage certificate.

Ms Gallagher has always been under a cloud, having not received confirmation she'd renounced her United Kingdom citizenship.

She said she'd taken all reasonable steps to renounce her British citizenship.

"If Katy Gallagher is disqualified, those three members should resign", Mr Pyne said, referring to Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb, who also have United Kingdom citizenship.

"In light of this, and conscious the attacks on my legitimacy to sit as a senator will continue to be used by my opponents, I have formed the view that my situation be considered by the High Court, despite the lack of any legal advice indicating I have a problem that warrants referral".

Opposition Leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, immediately moved a motion to accommodate the referral.

Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke had little sympathy for his colleague Mr Feeney, and stopped short of endorsing him to be Labor's candidate at a by-election for the marginal seat of Bateman.

Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the government did not reflect on the integrity of Senator Gallagher.

The other eight who could be referred to the High Court are Ms Rebekha Sharkie from the Nick Xenophon Team party; Labor MPs Susan Lamb, Justine Keay and Josh Wilson; and Liberal MPs Jason Falinski, Josh Frydenberg, Julia Banks and Nola Marino.

Senator Brandis said a "showdown" would not be needed on Thursday if Mr Shorten did the "right thing". But she did not get confirmation from the British Home Office that her renunciation had been processed until after she was voted in, her disclosure documents show.

But, she said, constant allegations against Senator Gallagher damaged the dignity and standing of the Senate.

The escalating dispute has ensnared a growing number of politicians because of unknown or undeclared links via relatives or spouses who were born in other countries or have claims to foreign citizenship.

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