A high court decision ruling Labor senator Katy Gallagher ineligible to sit in parliament has triggered four MPs – including three Labor MPs – to resign over dual citizenship issues. In a litmus test for both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten the four MPs will now fight to retain their seats in a “super Saturday” string of byelections in states that will be crucial to the next federal election including Queensland and Western Australia. While the Turnbull government dials up its rhetoric on Shorten’s failure to force his MPs to resign sooner, Shorten has attempted to frame the looming contests – to be held as early as June – as a chance to cast judgment on the Coalition’s big business tax cuts.
On Wednesday the high court unanimously held that Gallagher was ineligible because she failed to renounce her British citizenship by the nomination deadline before the 2016 election.
Three Labor MPs Josh Wilson (Fremantle, Western Australia), Justine Keay (Braddon, Tasmania) and Susan Lamb (Longman, Queensland), as well as the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo, South Australia) resigned within hours, accepting the Gallagher case as a precedent because they had relied on the same defence.