Parliament's citizenship saga looks set to drag into 2018

Parliament's citizenship saga looks set to drag into 2018

Parliament's citizenship saga looks set to drag into 2018

Updated 7 December 2017, 22:45 AEDT

2017 has been the year of dual citizens emerging in the ranks of Federal Parliament, but the crisis looks set to drag into 2018 too, writes Ashlynne McGhee.

It has been the year of the covert Kiwis, the enigmatic English and casual Canucks emerging in the ranks of the Federal Parliament.

But strap in, because the citizenship saga looks set to drag into 2018.

Despite repeated assurances that its vetting processes were rock solid, Labor has suffered its first citizenship casualties, with ACT senator Katy Gallagher and the Member for Batman David Feeney off to the High Court in the new year.

There could be more referrals before Parliament rises, but the most likely scenario is that MPs in similar circumstances will await the court's decision in those cases.

The two major parties are at a stalemate and, in what has been described as a "prisoner swap", Labor teamed up with the crossbench yesterday to refer a group of MPs in one fell swoop:

Labor MPs Justine Keay, Josh Wilson and Susan Lamb, Liberal MPs Nola Marino, Julia Banks, Jason Falinski and Alex Hawke and the Nick Xenophon Team's Rebekha Sharkie.

The bid failed because ultimately, no-one has the numbers on the floor of the House to resolve the dispute.

Even with their benches full, Labor and the crossbench are short when the speaker casts his vote.

The Government does not have the numbers either, and that means it cannot pull a partisan move to refer just the Labor MPs and the NXT MP.

But the move proved partisan politics is at play.

The Prime Minister wants Parliament to deal with each citizenship case individually and was particularly incensed with Labor's bid to refer Mr Hawke, given the MP has a letter from the Greek Government confirming he "cannot be considered a Greek citizen or national".

The High Court will be dealing with at least two cases in 2018.

Senator Gallagher has asked it to establish whether she was a dual citizen when nominations closed for last year's election.

And the fate of Mr Wilson, Ms Lamb, Ms Keay and Ms Sharkie will likely hang on that ruling because their circumstances are almost identical to Senator Gallagher's.

The court will also have to decide whether Mr Feeney's lost British Home Office paperwork is a problem.

The Member for Batman will be hoping it is not, because he is unlikely to win a fresh fight for his seat.

He narrowly held off the Greens at the last election, relying on every last preference, but this time round the Greens are confident they can snare it.

Today is supposed to be the final sitting day this year, so if the Parliament wants citizenship tied up with a neat little bow under before Christmas, this is the final chance.

Otherwise, like New Year's fireworks, it could explode into 2018 when the Parliament returns.