LAMBIE TO THE SLAUGHTER
Yet another Tasmanian senator caught in citizenship clean-out
TASMANIAN independent senator Jacqui Lambie expects to resign today after discovering she could hold British citizenship through her Scottish-born father.
Senator Lambie has told colleagues in Canberra she expected the British Home Office would confirm her status today.
She told the Mercury yesterday: “If I am a dual citizen I will resign, if it is black and white there is no need to take it to the High Court, as simple as that.”
Senator Lambie rejected suggestions she might contest the state election in March. But sources are speculating she could stand if a byelection was called in Braddon as a result of Labor MP Justine Keay’s dual-citizenship problem.
If she does resign, Senator Lambie would be replaced in the Senate by Devonport Mayor Steve Martin — who was number two on the Jacqui Lambie Network ticket at the election last year.
TASMANIAN senator Jacqui Lambie is set to resign as soon as today when she receives advice from the British Home Office about her citizenship status.
Last week the outspoken senator revealed she could have dual British-Australian citizenship through her Scottish-born father who came to Australia as an infant.
“If I am a dual citizen I will resign, if it is black and white there is no need to take it to the High Court, as simple as that,” she said yesterday.
It is understood Senator Lambie yesterday told senators in Canberra she was still awaiting information but was likely to resign this week.
In a recount, she would be replaced by Devonport Mayor Steve Martin who was number two on the Jacqui Lambie Network ticket in the 2016 election.
Senator Lambie told the Mercury if she resigned she would not look at standing for Braddon in the state election because the state team was full.
“As I am the chief executive officer of the JLN, I will be working on that alongside the state candidates,” she said.
Political sources also speculated about the possibility that Senator Lambie could stand if a by-election was called in Braddon as a result of Labor MP Justine Keay’s dual citizenship problem.
Senator Lambie said she had only found out about her ancestry in recent weeks while writing her autobiography.
The Senate yesterday referred the resignation of its former president, Tasmanian Stephen Parry, to the High Court.
The court is likely to set a date for a special count, which would result in the return of former minister Richard Colbeck, who was dropped to number five on the Liberal Senate ticket in 2016.
The Senate passed a motion requiring more than 220 other members of Parliament, including Ms Keay, to lodge documents about their citizenship status by December 1.
Ms Keay and Queensland colleague Susan Lamb have been the focus of a Government push to embroil Labor in the citizenship crisis.
A further tranche of High Court cases or resignations could result in the Government losing control of Parliament.
Government Leader in the Senate George Brandis told the Upper House that Ms Keay had not taken reasonable steps to renounce her citizenship.
“She was preselected to be the Labor candidate for that seat on or around the 26 June 2015 more than a year before the 2016 election,” he said.
“She took no steps at all for almost a year and indeed waited until after the election was called.”
But Ms Keay said the difference between her case and that of Liberals such as Stephen Parry and Barnaby Joyce couldn’t be clearer.
“I took all reasonable steps to renounce my UK citizenship, they didn’t bother,” she said.
She said legal advice from a Queens Counsel, Peter Hanks, showed the Matt Canavan case revealed the key legal point was whether all steps were taken that were reasonably required, not whether the foreign power had eventually got around to reacting to those steps.
Ms Keay posted her renunciation form on May 13, 2016, but did not receive the confirmation until July 11, 2016 — a month after the required date.
The citizenship crisis has already claimed five senators, former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Bennelong MP John Alexander.
SINCE bursting on to the scene as part of the Clive Palmer juggernaut at the 2013 federal election, Jacqui Lambie has always made it clear she has never had any intention of being a bit player on the national political stage.
And despite more than her share of gaffes, Senator Lambie has proven to be perhaps the most vocal voice for Tasmania in federal politics – a role aided by the power she has wielded as one of the crossbench senators, but fuelled by her own energetic nature.
Senator Lambie’s personal background means she has been somewhat uniquely positioned to understand the struggles of our state’s battlers, and so has proven to be a strong advocate for the NorthWest.
It’s a shame, then, that her future is in doubt because she likely unwittingly holds dual citizenship through her Scottish-born father. Senator Lambie was telling colleagues yesterday she would resign immediately if she today — as expected — receives advice from the UK Home Office that she is a citizen, and is therefore ineligible to sit in Federal Parliament. In typical style, she has promised that Tasmanians will be the first to know once she gets the news.
The Mercury has repeatedly made the point that our system of government is a representative democracy, and so — it follows — should be representative of the community.
Senator Lambie was raised in public housing in
For all her quirks, one of Senator Lambie’s most endearing characteristics is that she is not a typical cookie-cutter politician
Devonport. She left school at year 11 to join the army, but had to postpone that move after falling pregnant. She later did enlist, and over 10 years rose to the rank of corporal. Her personal story, then, reflects the experiences of many in our community.
And for all her quirks, one of Senator Lambie’s most endearing characteristics is that she is not a typical cookie-cutter politician. That is something that should be celebrated – even if it means she is often a bit rough around the edges. That’s kind of the point. But don’t underestimate her. The other remarkable thing about Senator Lambie is what a politically astute operator she has proven to be during her time in Parliament.
She was quick to jump from the sinking ship that was the Palmer United Party. And she has parlayed those five minutes of fame into establishing her own party, the modestly named Jacqui Lambie Network — under whose banner she last year won back the Senate seat she might have to give up today.
Senator Lambie was no political novice when elected to Parliament, having worked in senator Nick Sherry’s office for several years. But she has kept it real. And along the way she has advocated hard for the people she was elected to represent.
When you strip away those very public gaffes — most of which were the result of her telling it like it is, a trait her supporters actually find endearing — she has done a good job for Tasmania.
If Senator Lambie somehow manages to escape the Section 44 trap that has already claimed seven federal MPs, Tasmanians can rest assured she will continue to fight for their interests in her unique style.
If not, it looks likely Devonport mayor Steve Martin — number 2 on the Jacqui Lambie Network Senate ticket last year — will take Senator Lambie’s Senate seat. Mr Martin would do well to learn from her example and use his time there to stand up strongly, proudly and unashamedly for Tasmanians.