Citizenship crisis: High Court referral ‘probably the only step’ says Labor MP Justine Keay
Labor MHR Justine KeayThe Tasmanian Labor politician embroiled in the national citizenship crisis has released documents in an effort to clear her name.
Since Wednesday morning the citizenship status of Braddon MHR Justine Keay has been on the lips of her parliamentary colleagues, including the Prime Minister.
Ms Keay spoke exclusively to Fairfax Media about being the face of Labor’s perceived citizenship cloud.
Ms Keay, who was a British citizen on the night of the election, is relying on the steps she took to renounce her dual citizenship to make her eligible for parliament.
In February 2016, the Labor Party’s legal division notified Ms Keay of the required steps to be eligible as a candidate – but it was not until the election was called in May she began the renunciation process.
The emotional Member for Braddon began tearing-up when explaining why it took three months to renounce her British connection.
“I delayed it – it’s one of those things with the citizenship I knew I could never get it back,” she said.
“If I don’t get elected I can’t get my citizenship back and for me, it was a very personal thing.
“I try not to be upset about it but – it was that last tangible connection with my dad.”
She acknowledged the renunciation could have been done earlier, and the delay had created the cloud hanging over her head.
Despite taking steps to renounce her citizenship prior to the election, Ms Keay’s political opponents have seized on the confirmation she was British on election night.
“What’s frustrating is I have done everything possible and I have taken the constitutional requirements that I have very very seriously – you’ve got people like Barnaby Joyce and like Stephen Parry, possible Jacqui Lambie who have not even asked the question,” she said.
After the resignation of Mr Parry last week Ms Keay again sought legal advice for her own situation.
On Wednesday, Ray Finkelstein QC and Susan Gory advised she was eligible to sit as a member of the House of Representatives.
Ms Keay said there was no reason for her case to be tested in the High Court – but acknowledged it may be the only way to determine her fate.
“I would be incredibly confident of getting through that process,” she said.
“Part of me sort of thinks – that probably is the only step to really put an end to all this and completely clarify it.”
She was cautious about using the nation’s highest court as a testing ground and instead hoped universal disclosure in parliament would finalise the crisis that has gripped the parliament since July.
“For me to go to the High Court and say, can you just test my case, but I have no grounds for you do so, is pretty stupid,” she said.
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.
“Should the government decide to act in a partisan way and do that, that’s for them to determine.
“If they want to try to take out me on the way through their crisis – so be it, I’ll deal with that.”
Ms Keay said she was the “sacrificial lamb of Eric Abetz”, and her and fellow first-term MP, Susan Lamb, were being targeted by the Coalition.
She hoped explaining her steps would provide confidence for the people that elected her.
“This is becoming just farcical,” she said.
“This is it, let me get on with my job now and let’s get a process in place where we can sort this out once and for all because it’s just become a complete circus and I don’t want to be a part of that.”