I was endorsed as the Labor candidate for Fremantle on 12 May 2016, and I completed the paperwork to renounce my British citizenship on that day in accordance with the UK Home Office requirements. I tracked its arrival in the UK on 16 May 2016 and the Home Office withdrew the fee for processing the renunciation from my credit card on 6 June 2016.
I completed the nomination form mindful of the guidance provided in the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Candidate’s Handbook and the specific AEC Electoral Backgrounder on eligibility, both of which explain the requirement that a candidate must take reasonable steps to divest her or himself of foreign citizenship prior to nominating for election. My nomination was submitted on 7 June 2016.
That AEC guidance remains current today, which is understandable because it was affirmed in the recent High Court decision that found a person is eligible under s.44, “Where it can be demonstrated that the person has taken all steps that are reasonably required by the foreign law to renounce his or her citizenship and within his or her power.”
That is precisely what I have done.
On that basis, I nominated in the knowledge that I had taken all proper and reasonable – indeed, all possible – steps to divest myself of UK citizenship prior to nomination in accordance with the requirements of the UK Home Office.
I am pleased and not surprised that legal advice obtained this week from one of Australia’s preeminent experts in this area, retired Federal Court Justice Ray Finkelstein QC confirms: “it is clear that Mr Wilson was validly elected.”
I welcome the opportunity to participate in the parliamentary citizenship disclosure regime that has been agreed to this week. It will confirm what I already know to be true: I am completely qualified to represent the people of Fremantle in the Australian Parliament.
It is a great shame that in response to the citizenship crisis, Mr Turnbull is seeking to drag anyone and everyone into his mess.