It continues to be the basis of the Australian Electoral Commission’s advice to candidates (in the current Candidate’s Handbook), and was the guidance I followed when I nominated in 2016.
The new interpretation of the law means the question of whether a person took all ‘reasonable steps’ to renounce foreign citizenship simply doesn’t exist for dual Australian-British citizens, irrespective of the administrative delay in the process (which is generally 2-4 months). Under the new interpretation any prospective candidate must have their British citizenship deregistered before the close of nominations. In my case that was effectively impossible.
I was endorsed as a late replacement Labor candidate in Fremantle on 12 May 2016 and completed the requisite UK Home Office paperwork to renounce my British citizenship on that day. I mailed the renunciation form and attached documents on Friday, 13 May, using express registered post. I received confirmation that the documents had been received by the UK Home Office on Monday, 16 May. The processing fee for renunciation was withdrawn from my bank on 6 June. I nominated the following day, two days before the close of nominations. I received a letter from the UK Home Office dated 24 June saying that my British citizenship had been deregistered, with a copy of the renunciation form stamped 29 June 2016.
I was elected on 2 July 2016. I have not served a single day as anything other than an Australian citizen.
I was born in London when my parents were on a working holiday. My mum was expecting me when they travelled to the UK, and I returned home with them at the age of one after we’d travelled in Europe for 6 months in a Kombi van. Both my parents were born in Australia. My great-great-grandfather came to Fremantle as a convict in the 1860s. I have never lived in the UK, and have only visited there twice, in 1998 and 2012, for a few weeks each time.
In any case, the High Court’s interpretation of the law has changed and I respect that ruling. That means I must resign as the Member for Fremantle and contest the forthcoming by-election.
As I said in my first speech, I can’t imagine a more meaningful kind of work than to represent the community where I’ve lived virtually all my life. Every opportunity I am given to ask the people of Fremantle to trust me with the responsibility of being their representative in the national parliament is an opportunity I will relish.
I am looking forward to once again seeking that trust and responsibility in the weeks to come, and I am happy to be considered by voters in the Fremantle electorate on the basis of my character, principles, work-ethic, and record.