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Lucy Gichuhi: Coalition says it will take senator 'at her word' over citizenship

Simon Birmingham says legal advice clear and high court has already considered complaint from ALP

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Simon Birmingham and Lucy Gichuhi

Simon Birmingham and Lucy Gichuhi. The Turnbull government says the senator has no case to answer on the matter of citizenship.
Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP

The Turnbull government says the Kenyan-born senator Lucy Gichuhi has no case to answer about whether or not she is eligible to sit in federal parliament.

The government frontbencher Simon Birmingham said on Sunday the legal advice about her citizenship status was clear and the high court had already considered a complaint from the ALP.

Simon Birmingham

Not only is the legal advice clear that @senatorlucy is solely an Australian citizen but last August the High Court threw out Labor’s attempts to question it. https://t.co/fEITYLhpjY

June 3, 2018

Birmingham pointed to the decision last August by the high court that Gichuhi was eligible to replace Bob Day as a South Australian senator in the federal parliament when the Family First senator resigned after a constitutional breach concerning the lease of his Adelaide office.

News Corp reported over the weekend a new legal opinion arguing the senator did not automatically lose her Kenyan citizenship when she became an Australian citizen.

Advice from the University of Nairobi professor Edwin Abuya says Gichuhi should have written to Kenya’s nationality affairs minister to renounce her Kenyan citizenship, News Corp reported on Sunday.

But the government says there is no case to answer. Appearing on Sky News, the workplace relations minister, Craig Laundy, said there was strong legal advice supporting her position, and “I take her at her word”.

Laundy said there was no reason to send her case to the high court, because the Kenyan embassy had made her citizenship status clear.

Gichuhi included on the citizenship register a letter from Kenya’s high commissioner in Canberra, Isaiya Kabira, declaring she had not been recognised as a Kenyan citizens since 2010. She nominated for the Senate in May 2016.

Appearing on the ABC, the shadow workplace minister, Brendan O’Connor, said the senator’s position was a problem for the government.

“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”.

Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

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