Queensland-based Labor MP Susan Lamb openly wept in parliament today fought during an emotional speech trying to explain why she was unable to renounce her British citizenship as part of the ongoing saga of MPs in breach of Section 44 of the Australian Constitution.
Lamb has been under pressure from the government over the ongoing dual citizenship fiasco, which has claimed the political careers of 9 MPs and senators, most recently Labor’s David Feeney, who resigned last week because he couldn’t find the paperwork to back up his claim that he renounced his British citizenship a decade ago. The futures of Labor’s Josh Wilson and Justine Keay are also under question.
A by-election for Feeney’s Melbourne seat of Batman will be held on March 17.
An emotional Lamb, fighting for her political future, offered a traumatic and deeply personal explanation for why she remains in legal limbo over her dual citizenship.
“I’d rather not share this with my closest friends, let alone the Parliament of Australia,” she said, explaining that because she is estranged from her mother, thus unable to get a copy of her parents’ marriage certificate, which the UK Home Office sought in order to approve her renunciation. Her father was a British citizen
Lamb insists she took all reasonable steps to renounce her citizenship, in compliance with the Constitution. But Queensland law prevents her from obtaining a copy of the marriage certificate without the permission of parents if they are still alive.
“The fact is we don’t have a relationship… so when people ask me why I don’t just call my mother, well this is why,” she said.
“The fact is my mum is not around to grant me access to her marriage certificate. And dad, passed away more than 20 years ago.”
Her father – “an amazing man whose example I try and live up to every day of my life” – raised her as a single parent.
Her mother, Hazel, told The Australian last month that should would have helped provide necessary paperwork if her daughter had asked.
Lamb detailed the pain of the relationship breakdown, which began in childhood.
“One day when around six years old my mum dropped me off at school and she never came back to pick me up,” she said.
“I don’t remember every detail of what happened afterwards. I remember lots of tears, I remember lots of confusion and I remember my dad trying to explain.”
The repercussions continue to this day and she has failed in attempts to reconcile.
“My mother wasn’t there at my seventh birthday or the birthday after that,” she said.
“She wasn’t there to help when I brought my fourth son home from hospital to meet his brothers. She wasn’t there for my school graduation.
“She wasn’t there at my youngest son’s graduation just last year when he was 17. In fact, they have never met.”
Lamb said: “I don’t know what was going on in my Mum’s life back then… I don’t know what is going on in her life now.”
She appealed to the Coalition to stop their campaign against her, saying “take a moment, and think about the circumstances, think about the consequences of attacks like this on my family”.
But her plea went unheeded, with one government MP interjecting to accuse Lamb of casting “the first stone” and after her explanation government MPs were insisting she either resign or refer herself to the High Court for a decision on her political future.
If not, the government has threatened to refer her case to the High Court.
— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) February 7, 2018
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