The parliamentary future of Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts may be decided by the High Court of Australia, with the Greens pushing to have the validity of his election examined by the court.
The Greens need majority support from the Senate to refer the matter to the court, and their chances of success increased dramatically today after Buzzfeed uncovered documents signed by Roberts when he was an adult that contradict his claims that he was only ever an Australian citizen.
Buzzfeed obtained official Australian documents from the Department of Immigration through the National Archives in Queensland. They show the family of the Indian-born senator applied to become Australian citizens on May 8, 1974, and Roberts, then 19, signed one of the documents saying he was a “British UK and colonies” citizen.
The One Nation senator, who has repeatedly refused to release documentation to support his claims, blaming Twitter, said last month that he was “choosing to believe” he was never British after evidence emerged last that he traveled as a child on a UK passport.
Two Greens senators resigned from parliament last month after discovering they were dual citizens because of their birthplace, while former Turnbull government minister Matt Canavan stepped down from Cabinet this saying his mother registered the 36-year-old Australian-born Queensland senator as an Italian citizen a decade ago, but did not tell him. Canavan plans to contest the matter in the High Court.
Section 44 of the Constitution bars people with citizenship in a country other than Australia from standing for election.
Roberts was born in India to a Welsh father, said he’d checked with Indian authorities in 2014 who confirmed he was not dual national.
Last month, as doubts over his citizenship status increased, the One Nation senator says said he wrote to British authorities in June 2016, just days before election nominations closed saying he did not believe he was a British citizen, but “just in case I am, I renounce it, effective immediately”.
After losing his two co-leaders to the dual citizenship rule, Greens leader Richard Di Natale plans to move a Senate motion on Wednesday referring the One Nation senator’s citizenship status to the High Court. But he requires the support of several crossbench senators, as well as the Labor, to for the motion to succeed.
The government has already ruled out backing the motion with attorney-general George Brandis saying “the onus of proof” lies with those making the claim Roberts was not elected constitutionally.
“It’s not a reverse onus of proof on Senator Roberts to demonstrate he was validly elected,” he said.
While One Nation leader Pauline Hanson promised last week that Roberts would provide the parliament with documents showing Roberts was in the clear when parliament returned today, they have yet to be presented.
The Senate today referred the election of former minister Matt Canavan and Greens Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, who have both resigned from the senate, to the High Court to determine their eligibility.
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