The citizenship saga rocking federal politics has spilled over into the ACT, with an Opposition push to investigate former chief minister and now senator Katy Gallagher.
The Legislative Assembly voted for Ms Gallagher’s elevation to the Senate in 2015 after a vacancy was left by former ALP senator Kate Lundy.
During that process the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, tabled a statutory declaration from Ms Gallagher, which read:
“I am a person eligible be be chosen as a Senator … in addition … I am not a citizen or subject of a foreign country.”
In the past year, as Section 44 of the constitution has gripped Federal Parliament, politicians including Senator Gallagher have come under scrutiny.
She told the Senate in September that she renounced any entitlement to British citizenship “out of an abundance of caution” ahead of the 2016 election, which came after her appointment in the previous parliament.
That decision has led Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne to seek an Assembly committee to investigate whether Senator Gallagher’s declaration was incorrect and misleading.
“I am not making any judgement about the citizenship eligibility of someone to sit in the Senate,” Mrs Dunne said.
“I am concerned about the processes and procedures that have taken place in this place.”
Mrs Dunne, who was speaker at the time, said she does not believe Senator Gallagher intentionally provided incorrect information to the Assembly.
“[But] I am concerned that I may have overseen something that in hindsight may have proved to be wrong and potentially misleading both to the Assembly and … the Governor-General,” she said.
ACT Labor slams ‘stunt’
The Chief Minister dismissed the move.
“It does reek of a political stunt ahead of a range of other, more important pieces of legislation and issues that need to be considered in this place today,” Mr Barr said.
In response to the move, Senator Gallagher pointed to her September Senate speech, noting she “never took any steps to become a British citizen”.
“Despite my clear understanding that I was not a British citizen, I followed the advice of the ALP vetting team [to formally renounce],” she said.
A bid to bring the matter up for debate today failed, and it will now be considered on Thursday.