|In the photo: High Court of Australia / Photo by: Flickr|
Senator Malcolm Roberts was the fourth Australian senator referred to the country’s High Court to rule on the legality of his election due to his alleged violation of the constitutional proscription on dual citizenship.
In an interview, Roberts said that he was confident about the legality of his election. Nonetheless, he asked his anti-immigration political party One Nation to refer his case to the High Court "in the interests of honesty and transparency." Roberts has been under fire since his disclosure last month that he only received a written confirmation that he was not a British citizen five months removed from his election to the senatorial office.
"I have always thought that I was British — that I was Australian, always thought I was Australian," Roberts said, correcting himself during an interview.
Following established court precedent in Australian jurisdiction, Roberts’ election to office was illegal if he was a British national on the date of the elections.
One Nation political party leader Pauline Hanson said that she believes Roberts had been qualified to be elected as senator, although his case is "very complex." On the other hand, Greens political party leader Richard Di Natale said that even if One Nation decided not to refer Roberts to the High Court, the Greens political party would have done so due to his inconsistent statements during the legislative proceedings.
The Senate later rejected Di Natale's Senate motion that would require all senators to be independently audited to ensure that they are qualified in accordance with the Australian Constitution.
Roberts, who was born in the Indian city of Disergarh in 1955 to an Australian mother and Welsh father, was the fourth Australian incumbent senator whose case was referred to the High Court for final determination. The others were Matt Canavan and two minor Greens party senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters.
Ludlam and Waters, who were natural-born citizens of New Zealand and Canada, respectively, resigned last month after their discovery of their citizenships. Roberts and Australian-born Canavan, who said his mother applied for his Italian citizenship without his consent, are staying in the Senate until the High Court’s final adjudication of their respective cases.
Since the last election, a senator has resigned from his post because of his indirect ownership over a building in which the government leased his office. This is in violation of the Constitution which prohibits public officials from acquiring pecuniary interests in government contracts. The High Court also ruled for the removal of another senator who has been bankrupt and for nondisclosure of a previous criminal record.