Australia's elected representatives are enduring ongoing scrutiny in the country's dual nationality crisis. A number of sitting MPs and senators have been ruled ineligible, and have resigned or lost their seats.

by Rob Tarlton | | Blog

Australia's elected representatives are enduring ongoing scrutiny in the country's dual nationality crisis. A number of sitting MPs and senators have been ruled ineligible, and have resigned or lost their seats. 

Lawmaker Katy Gallagher has had her case referred to Australia's High Court Most recently, Labor Senator Katy Gallagher (pictured) has had her position challenged. The scandal threatens to tip the balance of power in the Australian parliament. Some are even calling it a constitutional crisis. It all hinges on Section 44 of the Australian constitution, the most popular and restrictive interpretation of which disqualifies a member with the nationality of any country other than Australia.

This sounds simple enough, but nationalities rarely follow simple rules. Many countries have a nationality law that often automatically confers citizenship on a child of a citizen. The transmission of some citizenships has been conditional on the history of the parent or grandparent, such as British citizenship which has many conditions which are often complex and counterintuitive. Other citizenships “for example German citizenship“ can flow freely and indefinitely down the generations, but are easily lost. This can happen when a German citizen voluntarily acquires another citizenship while an adult or serves a foreign government“ although, as always, various exceptions apply. Sometimes it can be reclaimed. So these 'free flowing' citizenships can also end up quite complicated, although for different reasons.

The important thing to understand is that citizenship is not black and white. Citizenship law is not like criminal law. Facts don't have to be proven 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Instead, citizenship can be proven on the basis of likelihood or probability. There are shades of grey. If citizenship can be proven to be more than fifty per cent likely, that is usually adequate for official recognition. To make things even more complicated, citizenship law doesn't stand still. New court judgments periodically open up new possibilities.

Passportia is a consultancy that specialises in assessing, preparing and submitting claims to citizenship of the UK, Ireland and Germany, generally based on ancestry. In preparing a claim Passportia makes the best use of all laws, judgments, and available evidence to maximise the chance of success at first application. If you would like to assess a claim for yourself, your children, or a politician, you can complete the details requested in the form below  


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