Uncertainty remains over the citizenship status of One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and whether he was a dual national when he stood as a candidate in last year’s federal election after he revealed last night that he only confirmed he was not a British citizen last December.
Section 44 of the Constitution bars people with citizenship in a country other than Australia from standing for election. Two Greens senators resigned from parliament earlier this month after discovering they were dual citizens because of their birthplace, while former Turnbull government minister Matt Canavan stepped down from Cabinet this week saying his mother registered the Australian-born Queensland senator as an Italian citizen a decade ago, but did not tell him.
Senator Roberts appeared on Sky News on Thursday night to explain the sequence of events in the lead up to his election as a Queensland senator last year. While he keeps giving differing accounts of what happened, he has refused to provide any documents to back up his claims.
The One Nation senator says said he wrote to British authorities in June 2016, just days before nominations closed saying he did not believe he was a British citizen, but “just in case I am, I renounce it, effective immediately”.
But it took another six months before UK authorities confirmed he was not a citizen on December 5 last year.
Roberts was born in India to a Welsh father and last week said he’d checked with Indian authorities in 2014 who confirmed he was not dual national before going on to send a racist tweet about Indians.
He previously claimed that he “never held any citizenship other than Australian” but after Buzzfeed discovered historical documents online that show Roberts travelled on a British passport as a small child and is listed on the Register Office’s register as a British national born overseas.
The senator’s office responded to the documents saying Roberts “is choosing to believe that he was never British”.
Last night on Sky News, Roberts said he “badgered” the authorities repeatedly to confirm he was not British, but complied with the Constitution be taking all reasonable steps to renounce any dual citizenship.
Roberts has the support of his party leader, Pauline Hanson, who said on Facebook that she “saw firsthand his renouncement of UK citizenship before he became a candidate”.
She labelled questions about the citizenship of her Queensland colleague a media “witch hunt”.
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