Kenya born Australian senator Lucy Gichuhi not recognised as dual citizen
Workplace Minister Craig Laundy says Lucy Gichuhi has legal advice saying she is not in breach of the constitution, after the Liberal was dragged into Parliament’s dual citizenship saga.
Kenya’s government has provided the former Family First member with a letter saying she has not been recognised as a citizen of her country of birth since changes to the constitution in 2010, and that she had not applied for dual citizenship before nominating for the Senate in May 2016.
Senator Gichuhi joined the South Australian Liberal Party in February and her place on the Senate ticket for the next federal election is under scrutiny as party of factional fighting.
News Corp Australia reported on Sunday a constitutional law expert claimed she had not automatically lost her Kenyan citizenship on becoming an Australian citizen and could be in breach of section 44 of the constitution.
University of Nairobi professor Edwin Abuya said Senator Gichuhi was required to write to Kenya’s nationality affairs minister to renounce her Kenyan citizenship before nominating.
He said constitutional provisions need to be read alongside the country’s citizenship laws.
A letter from the Kenyan High Commission in Canberra, provided to the Senate as part of new citizenship declarations by MPs, says since she had not applied for dual citizenship she wasn’t recognised as a citizen.
“Mrs Gichuhi sought to know her status in regards to her Kenyan citizenship. Mrs Gichuhi was then informed that since she had not applied for dual citizenship following the promulgation of a new Kenyan Constitution in 2010, we did not recognise her as a Kenyan citizen,” the letter says.
“We advised Mrs Gichuhi that she still had her rights to Kenyan citizenship as outlined under Kenyan law. To date we have not received any application from Mrs Gichuhi, seeking dual citizenship.”
Mr Laundy told Sky News his Liberal colleague had followed the rules.
“I take her at her word. It’s there, it’s public. I know there is a dissenting view, however, there’s strong legal advice that supports her,” he said on Sunday.
He said she should not be referred to the High Court because all the required information was in the public domain.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Senator Gichuhi said the full bench of the High Court had already rejected Labor’s attempts to question her citizenship.
“My advice and case is clear. I am Australian and only Australian,” she said.
Labor frontbenchner Brendan O’Connor said the citizenship problems had become “an ongoing saga”.
“It would appear on the face of it that if the legislation has to be read with the constitution, she may well be in some difficulty,” he told ABC TV.
“That’s now, I guess a problem for the Liberal Party given that she’s now another crossbencher who has chosen to leave the party of origin and join another party. It’s a very unstable crossbench that never seems to stay where they originally started.
“This is a very unusual time in the Parliament, very unprecedented.”
The questions come as South Australian Liberal Senate nominee Alex Antic has been required by party officials to provide additional evidence to demonstrate he is not a Serbian citizen.
Mr Antic, a local government councillor, wants to be placed ahead of Senator Gichuhi on the Senate ticket, potentially seeing her dumped to the unwinnable fourth spot.
Queensland Coalition Senate elders Barry O’Sullivan and Ian Macdonald along with NSW MPs Craig Kelly and Ann Sudmalis. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the next election will be held in the first half of 2019.